Numbers numb, jargon jars. Tell a Story!

If scientists taught preschool.

“Even if you have reams of evidence on your side, remember:  numbers numb, jargon jars, and nobody ever marched on Washington because of a pie chart.   If you want to connect with your audience, tell a story.”

“While we will always need hard facts to make our cases, we often fail to realize that the battle for hearts and minds starts with the hearts.”

That’s storytelling guru Andy Goodman, in his practical and eye-opening handbook Storytelling as Best Practice (p. 2).    He offers a lot of useful suggestions for breathing life into presentations with stories.  Here are some more excerpts:

“The audience you seek will only give its attention to things it cares about. . . Consequently, it’s incumbent upon us to make an emotional connection before we start feeding them raw facts, and stories have this ability. “

 “There’s a maxim in public speaking . . .  in a two-hour speech, people will remember a 2-minute story.

“I simply want to reinforce the importance of telling stories if your goal is to educate, persuade or in any way connect with your audience.  .  .

“When was the last time somebody sidled up to you with a sly look in his eye and said, ‘Have I got a juicy statistic to tell you.’

“All the evidence in the world may go down in flames compared to a compelling story on the other side.”

Goodman notes that storytelling has its own skeptics, “who claim their field is so driven by data that stories ‘just won’t fly.'”   But the human mind appears to be hard-wired for narratives over isolated bits of information.     Decades of research show that weaving facts into a story helps people remember.

The book is a careful selection of articles from ten years of Goodman’s e-zine, Free-Range Thinking, with intriguing titles such as:

  • Stories  vs. Data:   Which Makes the Stronger case?
  • Seven Questions to Sharpen Your Stories
  • How to Find Good Stories
  • The 10-Immutable Laws of Storytelling

You can subscribe to Free-Range Thinking for free, and browse or print any articles in its comprehensive online archive.

Got a short, compelling story that relates climate change or clean energy?    We’d love to hear it.    And so would every audience you speak to.


2 thoughts on “Numbers numb, jargon jars. Tell a Story!

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  2. Pingback: Must-See TEDx Video: If You Want Them To Remember, Tell A Story |

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