Stories are authentic human experiences. Stories can also build relationships, and bring people closer together. Stories connect us to each other. Whether we are aware of it or not, stories have a huge impact on who we are, the way we learn, and the way we teach. A good story can capture the attention of a huge audience, and really cement a point that you are trying to make. Stories leap frog the technology and bring us to the core of experience.
- Humans are narrative creatures by nature. And stories have always been a primal form of communication. They connect us to a self larger than us and to universal truths. They bring us back to ancient traditions, legends, archetypes, myths, and symbols. They also transcend generations.
- Stories are about human connection and relatedness. They engage us through emotions of joys, laughter, sadness, hardships and passions. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better, to find our commonality with others and overcome differences, to share meaning and purpose in the different aspects of our lives.
- Stories reveal our thought processes and how we make meanings of life. Psychologists use different names such as mental schemas, scripts, cognitive mapping, mental models, metaphors, or narratives. Nevertheless, they all lead to a common purpose — We use stories to explain how things work, how we make decisions, how we justify our decisions, how we persuade others, how we understand and define ourselves, and how we teach human values such as responsibility, commitment, compassion, and the like.
- Stories can be therapeutic and provide order. People seek certainty and this is a universal truth. And narratives offer a structure that is familiar, predictable, and comforting. Within the context of the story, we can withstand intense emotions because we know that resolution follows the conflict. Narratives can provide solutions and a safety net. In my private practice, I have used stories to help children gain mastery and overcome some of their intense experiences (e.g., separation anxiety, low self-esteem), fears and emotions that can be too overwhelming.
- Stories can be gateways that tap into our right brain and trigger our imagination. Through imagination, we become participants in the narratives. We can step out of our own shoes, see things differently, and increase our empathy and compassion for others. Through imagination, we think outside the box and harness our creativity that is the foundation of innovation, self-discovery and change.
In the context of social media, organizations, causes, brands or individuals identify and develop a core story. They create and display authentic meaning and purpose that others can believe in, participate with, and share. Stories are so important today because there is SO much information out there and stories can serve as an effective filtering agent. Good stories will get someone to pay attention without clicking on the next link, changing the channel, or flipping the page. So what makes up a “good and powerful” story? Most good stories will have the following elements:
- Must have a Clear message (be engaging with tension or drama to evoke a powerful emotional experience
- Mush have a Powerful introduction
- Be Authentic
- Be Relevant
- May or may not have a call to action