Ever since humans first sat around the campfire, stories have been told to create emotional connections. Stories have also served as containers of information. In many societies, they have been passed along nearly unchanged for generations. The greatest stories of all time were packaged and transferred so well that hundreds of illiterate generations could repeat them. Our early ancestors had stories to explain day-to-day occurrences in nature like why the sun rises and falls, as well as more overarching, meta-narratives about the meaning of life. Stories are the most powerful delivery tool for information, more powerful and enduring than any other art form.

People love stories because life is full of adventure and we’re hard-wired to learn lessons from observing change in others. Life is messy, so we empathize with characters who have real-life challenges similar to the ones we face. When we listen to a story, the chemicals in our body change and our mind becomes transfixed. We are riveted when a character encounters a situation that involves risks and elated when he averts danger and is rewarded.

If you’re like many professionals, using stories to create emotional appeal feels unnatural because it requires showing at least some degree of vulnerability to people you don’t personally know all that well. Telling a personal story can be especially daunting because great personal stories have a conflict or complication that exposes your humanness or flaws. But these are also the stories that have the most inherent power to change others. People enjoy following a leader who has survived personal challenges and can share her narrative of struggle and victory (or defeat) comfortably.

Explore the multimedia version of Resonate to learn more about crafting a compelling story.

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