WHY do stories work?

Think of C. P. R. as a way to resuscitate your communication.

The C stands for Connection.

Stories connect us. They always have and always will. We are hard wired for stories, they are the corner stone of our consciousness, and telling stories is in our DNA.

If you fail to connect with your audience, you’re gonna be in for a long hard day, and the likelihood of your audience receiving, recalling and acting on your information is pretty much shot.

The P stands for Persuasion.

Stories are persuasive and are the best way to move people to action.

A famous old English playwright and director called Keith Johnstone once said,
“People are inhibited from seeing that no action, sound, or movement is innocent of purpose.”

So I was thinking about this and thought to myself, wow I think he’s right.

Every time I speak, every time I move or initiate an action it’s driven by a purpose, which is usually a want. So it just made sense to me to get really good at doing whatever it is, that will help me get what I want.

Now, I know this might sound horribly selfish but when I looked at my wants, virtually all of them were good, with the vast majority of them aimed at helping other people.
The fact that helping other people was important to me meant I had no choice, but to get good at telling stories.

The R in C P R is for Recall.

Stories make facts memorable so they can be recalled and told forward.
In fact, Jerome Bruner, a cognitive psychologist, said that a fact, wrapped in a story is 22-times more memorable!

Stories are also the original “viral” before YouTube cornered the phrase.
Stories get passed on from person to person and your message gets passed along with it.

Think for a moment, how many times today has a friend or business associate come up to you and recited a list of bullet points, or quoted their mission or vision statement?

Now think about the number of times today that someone has shared a story with you?

What is a story?

My favorite definition of story comes from a gentleman called Peter Guber. He is a producer out in L.A. who produced such movies as Color Purple, Batman, Kids are Alright, Midnight Express, Gorillas in the Mist and many more.

In his book, “Tell to Win”, he stated that all his successes have been when he told the story, and his failures have been when he got too wrapped up in the numbers and profits.

At one point he said, “A story is a vehicle that allows you to put the facts in an emotional context.” I have always loved this definition for a few reasons.

First I like its simplicity.

Think of stories as little pockets of information. They can be short, concise, purposeful, and often can be told in the same amount of time it would take to list facts or figure. Don’t think of stories as long-winded, drawn out tales that take a long time to tell.

Second, it’s all about the facts. Facts are important. For years people have thought of stories as fluff. They are not. It’s just a different, more successful way of delivering your facts.

And third, it tells us what to do! All we have to do is take our facts and wrap them in an emotional context so the audience can recall them.

That’s it. Simple. Done.