At work, play or just everyday life, good storytelling skills can be your Mjölnir
By Ranjani Krishnakaumar
If the idea of storytelling brings to mind the grandmother’s tale of monkeys and crows, you are not thinking big enough. In today’s world, storytelling is everywhere. Journalists, politicians, CEOs, even that charming software engineer is telling stories. Because stories engage, impact and influence the listener. If you can tell a good story, you can breakdown mountains, as Thor could do with his hammer, Mjölnir.
In this blog, let’s explore how storytelling, and especially story visualisation, is an important part of ‘creativity’, a 21st century skill that every child must have.
No fun in data, if you can’t show me a narrative.
Ever since the world moved digital and the Internet came along, the amount of time and energy that ‘data’ occupies in our lives is mind-boggling. But, data is merely raw numbers, and there’s no fun in that! Mere numbers are not going to change anyone’s perception; you need to give them context and build a narrative to show why these numbers matter.
In life, much as we like it or not, emotions are as crucial as logic. Your audience — whether it’s your voters in a local election or a potential customer on a sales call — want to be convinced before they begin to see your point. Your presentation has to appeal to both the rational as well as their emotional sides. You’ve got the rational side down with the numbers and evidence backing up all the points you’re making. But what about the emotional side?
Storytelling for engagement
Even when you’re putting forth the most well-researched theory to your audience, you must remember that they have a million different distractions. No data you can possibly share will be more attractive than that adorable cat video! Not only that, they already absorb plenty of data from emails, conference calls, newspapers, social media etc.
To grab their attention and keep them engaged, tell a story. Make it relatable.
If they can put themselves in the shoes of the characters in your story, they’ll keep their phone aside for a moment and focus. In today’s world, focus is worth its weight in gold.
Storytelling for connection
Data is not just boring, it’s also gruelling and nerve-wracking. But when you tell a story, you strike a connection. You take the audience on your side. Without the barriers of me vs. you, the atmosphere eases up and audiences get more engaged. Naturally, you will be able to influence their views better.
To achieve a personal connection with your audience, be authentic, respectful, and non-judgmental. Build an environment in which your audience can safely share their own stories as well. Be thoughtful, inclusive and imaginative.
Storytelling to kindle emotions
We know exercise helps us release endorphins, our brain’s “happy chemicals.” But did you know laughter also releases endorphins and this leads to increased brain activity? Emotions are located in the same part of your brain that also handles decision-making. So, when you make your audience feel relaxed and happy, they’re more likely to consider your arguments favourably and make a positive decision.
Use memes, videos, and GIFs and what have you! These are powerful tools at your disposal when you want to sway your audience’s mindset. Pick the one that’s perfect for the emotion you’re going for!
Storytelling for impact
Which of these has a greater, longer-lasting impact on you: statistics showing the dwindling numbers of polar bears or that viral video of a starving polar bear stranded on iceless land?
The importance of identifiable victim effect cannot be emphasized enough. When you tell a distinct story of one, it influences your audience and triggers their donating or buying tendencies more. When you couple one distinctive story with a striking image, the effect you can have on your audience is multiplied.
Now, close your eyes and think of a data point that’s very close to your heart. No? Okay, try thinking of your favourite story? Are you feeling a flurry of visuals from your favourite books, movies and TV series. There’s a reason why no one learns a phonebook by heart, but can memorise every last trivia about the Harry Potter universe — stories are magic.
At QShala, we take storytelling seriously. We encourage our participants to find connections across various data points to build their narratives. We bring unique tools and techniques to teach children storytelling, that will put them in good stead, whatever career they dream of. Watch this space for more on how we do this.