The good storyteller is a travel guide through the listener’s memories.

Stories are the real metaverse.

Human brains work with stories. If you have read only a handful of articles about this topic, you know that a story is helpful in convincing people. Stories are the second best thing next to the experience. Stories act as a simulator, allowing the reader to live the story mentally.

But what makes a good story, and why are some stories better than others? Extensive literature exists on this topic, for example, the book storytelling animal.

Today I want to write about what makes some stories more appealing than others and the role our mind plays.

Be consistent with the reader

We commonly understand a story’s consistency to be within the story itself. But this is only one-half of the medal. Good stories arise if the consistency stretches from the past experiences of the listener over the entirety of the story.

Long stories usually require a long time to achieve this consistency. Some books feel dull in the beginning. Slow. Nothing seems to happen. But suddenly, you find yourself sucked into it. Characters and actions become consistent.

Bring the reader into the story

Other stories, usually the better ones, directly relate to something in our daily life. Take, for example, Harry Potter. The first few pages of the first book describe the everyday life of many children. Every person can relate to these events. Fantasy elements only start appearing by and by, allowing us to catch up. Wands and flying brooms suddenly seem very consistent in this world.

Start where the people are

Use this gradual approach in your presentations. The audience needs to hear information consistent with their worldview. Any full-blown confrontation with controversial facts will lead to strong resistance.

Usage of shared experiences as priming

Imagine that you talk to climate change deniers. If you would state the experimental data and then open a discussion, you will only face a wall. However, if you slowly evoke memories of cold winters and emotional elements of increasing weather catastrophes, even the most outspoken deniers will start to discuss these events.

This effect is related to priming. You have set the baseline for your data by recalling singular events that may never have been an objective baseline. Recall today’s weather disasters and profoundly affect the listener’s consciousness. The vivid images will replace any memory of his comfy warm armchair.

Usage of priming in your meetings

A good example is the typical meeting check-in. You can ask everybody on Monday how he is feeling today. Many people are ignorant of those meeting tricks.

But you can influence the response by talking about something good that happened during the last work week. It is essential to speak of shared memory and direct the focus on positive thoughts. There is nothing to gain if you talk about your fancy weekend.

In addition, most people feel happier during their personal life than their professional life. The workweek memory establishes a positive baseline.

Usually, people want to share something equally lovely or more admirable. As a result, they will focus on what was even more positive on their weekend.

Relate unknown things to known things

Sometimes it isn’t easy to describe the quality of a new thing. How would you describe the internet to someone from the 17th century?

You can use a long explanation of what it can do and where it is. Still, you may fail.

Better are phrases like,
“the internet lets you have the world’s wisdom at your fingertip.”

Make it concrete:
“The internet lets you see the number of cows in your country as quickly as the content of your storage cupboard.”

Relate information by matching across different dimensions, like speed and information retrieval:
“You can speak to distant relatives as quickly as water flows from your tap.”

This last approach is the most difficult to come up with but bridges the widest gap of understanding.

Next time you present something, think about the listener’s world.