The Power of Storytelling


Why do we love a good story? And what makes a story good?

We were delighted to host a gathering of clients and friends to answer these questions and explore the power of storytelling for leaders recently in San Francisco.

An eager group of leaders celebrated the power of stories to bring their work to life. They noted that stories connect people, invite the listener to join in the experience of the story along with the teller, provide an invitation for others to tell their own story, that stories are “are data with a soul” as Dr. Brene Brown remarked in her Ted Talk, and that they compel action.

Why is that?

Together we explored the neuroscience behind our experience and highlighted some key research. Stories activate multiple areas of our brain simultaneously, leading to more engagement and focus. Our brains release oxytocin when we hear stories—the same neurochemical released by a mother and her child, and perhaps the reason we tend to feel more trust and empathy towards people when we know their story. Stories also activate our mirror neurons, inviting us to identify more closely with the emotions conveyed.

Armed with all these important reasons to tell stories—but acknowledging that compelling stories take planning and preparation—the group was eager to learn some key elements of successful storytelling.

How do we craft a story that is crisp, engaging, and motivating? We shared a few simple frameworks, including Pixar’s, and some helpful story “hooks” that can engage the listener and provide a welcomed jumping-off point for those who consider themselves nascent story tellers. Time spent planning a story is worth it! Equipped with a few simple steps to prepare, organize, and present, the group began applying the learning immediately.

It was a terrific discussion; thank you to all of you who joined us!

To learn more about our approach to storytelling for leaders, please join us for a complimentary webinar on Sept. 29th, presented by communications expert and Boda’s Director of Learning, Deborah Grayson RiegelRegister here.