3 Ideas in 2 Minutes on Persuasive Storytelling
Stories and the Mind, Narrative Fallacy & a Repertoire of Stories
I. Stories and the Mind
Somehow people aren’t persuaded by being slapped in the face with facts and logic. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explains why:
The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor. Everyone loves a good story; every culture bathes its children in stories.
—Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind
II. Narrative Fallacy
The Narrative Fallacy is one of the challenges that come with our tendency to think in stories. This misconception causes us to see narratives where there are none.
When we learn about a series of events or facts we tend to sequence them together. We fill in the gaps of time and place, flesh out the characters and think about what might happen and why. In short, we turn random facts into a story.
The dog sleeps under the combine harvester.
The farmer turns the keys.
…are two completely unrelated statements. But our mental cinema carefully crafts a needlessly terrible story out of them. With imaginary causes and effects. So relax, the farmer is alive and well.
III. A Repertoire of Stories
Great leaders should also be great storytellers. But in order to tell a good story, you need to have one at hand. This is why executive coach Shawn Callahan proposes a deliberate approach to persuasive business storytelling:
Stories serve as great examples when you’re trying to make a point. They are concrete and specific — they demonstrate how the world works. In order for a story to come to mind, you need to have already discovered some stories and committed them to memory.
—Shawn Callahan, Putting Stories to Work
Shawn suggests building your personal story repertoire. Collect them from your own experiences, tell stories about people you know, or source them from anywhere you encounter a great narrative. Memorise and practise them so you always have one to tell.
Coincidentally, I’ve recently put together a collection of inspirational stories with a moral. 🐘
Have a great week,
P.S.: Check out my new essay on Chesterton’s Fence: How to Enact Change.