4 Ways Neuroscience Helps Us Tell Better Stories

No matter how you frame your corporate storytelling … literary, theatrical, business-centric, etc. … the knowledge of neuroscience can make them better. 

When we hear a story, brain activity increases 5x and our bodies release oxytocin … a feel-good hormone. Working together, these reactions create powerful, positive memories.  

Neuroscience has identified four key elements that support successful communication; relatability, novelty, tension, and fluency.  Let’s examine how marketers can use them to improve their corporate storytelling. 

  1. Relatability: All successful stories begin with a situation or an idea to which the listener can easily relate.  Corporate storytelling is no different.  This can be a shared industry challenge, or a familiar situation a la a case study. However, relatability is closely tied to the second key …
  2. Novelty: The setting for the story must be familiar, but also unique in a way that catches the listener’s interest.  This is a tricky balance.  Imagine a Venn diagram with two circles labeled “relatability” and “novelty.”  Now imagine a small overlap between the two; this is the sweet spot.  
  3. Tension: Aristotle said that all stories should maintain a tension between what should be, and what is.  Corporate stories must maintain this tension throughout, moving back and forth until it ends and the outcome is resolved … preferably by using your product or service. 
  4. Fluency: Marketers often get bogged down in market-speak, e.g. “Our solutions help you leverage KPIs to optimize Q1 results and achieve maximum storyscapes.” This is a big reason webinar or Zoom Meeting listeners click on another tab and play digital solitaire. Use language that’s accessible, clear, and easy to understand.  Most popular novels are written at a 7th-grade level; Hemingway wrote at a 4th-grade level. 

The neuroscience of effective storytelling is clear. To be successful, stories must be familiar yet unique, keep the listener engaged with the continual push-pull of conflict and resolution, and use easy-to-understand language in a comfortable format.

Hopefully, just like this blog.