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The Power of Storytelling When Communicating

communication tips how to communicate better storytelling Mar 20, 2023

Let Me Tell You a Story

“Click. Click. Click.”


 I remember listening to the sound. 


I remember opening the door to my father's office at the hospital, hoping I would hear “the” sound.


When I was a young child, my mother would occasionally pick up my father from his office. He was one of the heads of psychiatry at Saint Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. 


I would be dragged along.  


Opening the door into that office was like entering another world. There were shelves upon shelves, and stacks of books. There was also a couch and two chairs for his sessions. 


Most of all, I loved sitting behind his desk and pretending I was my father. Pretending to be important. There were notepads, pens, and a very modern (at the time) large dictation recorder which of course, I was forbidden to touch. 


I wasn’t allowed to touch anything except for my other favourite item on his desk: a Newton’s Cradle. A Newton’s Cradle is a small structure with a set of five hanging silver balls of equal weight. You know the one.. you pull the ball back and let it go. Then just watch and listen. It would hit the little row of balls, resulting in the ball on the far side swinging at the same height that I dropped the first ball. 

I loved this toy.  I would play with Newton’s Cradle for as long as possible, and in different combinations, raising one ball, two, or three. And as I was being ushered out of the room, and hurried home for dinner,  I would always attempt to do one last click. I would raise the ball as high as I could, and…I would listen to Newton's Cradle, clicking as I was walking out the door. 


Click click click.


I would listen to it on the other side of the door.


Click click click.


We would go down the hall and into the elevator, and, even as we got outside, I would look up to the window on the third floor, hoping that I would hear it still going.


Click click click.


When we communicate, isn't that what we hope for?


That our message will “CLICK”.


That it will be received, shared by others, and most of all, that it will have an impact.


The Power of a Story

Now, I could have simply shared. However, when sharing our expertise, we must shape it in a way that makes it easy for people to remember and share. 


But…I illustrated this point in a way to help you remember. I told a story.


It was a way in…for you.


When we start a presentation or message with the words, “I once did a crazy thing…” or  “This may be hard to believe, but…” or “What I am about to tell you is true…”, we create a gateway


Each of these sentences is a gateway. A way in. And when we communicate new insights, information, or expertise, that’s what our audience is looking for. A way in.


The way in is…storytelling.


Yes, as leaders, we have to be clear. We need to elevate our audience. Essentially we are facilitating a way into our knowledge, a way into our process, a way into our world. It’s a very simple way to make our world bigger and better. 


Stanford Graduate School Of Business study cited inThe Atlantic Noted that when information is woven into a narrative, people recall it “up to 22 times more than facts alone.” A study conducted in the 1960s found that people have different levels of information retention based on how information is delivered to them and that “retention is six to seven times higher through stories.” In addition to Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area, other parts of the brain get activated with story. Each area plays a significant role in how we perceive information


If you’re interested in learning more about storytelling and how to lead with a story to create more impactful communication, please join us at our upcoming Lead with Storytelling webinar on March 30, 2023 at 11:00am EST. You can register here.