Why tell your story?
Stories are one of our most powerful communication tools. A compelling story can change minds and inspire action.
Stories are how people learn.
We don't just listen to stories, we experience them.
Stories are remembered and retold.
Stories are easier to remember than data and statistics and makes a greater impact in conversations - because we’re trained to follow a narrative thread.
Stories connect with emotions.
- Emotions influence decisions. We only take action about issues we care about.
- We all already use stories. You don't need to be an expert (you already are), and you don't need a particular background or education.
- Stories are the single most powerful communication tool we have.
How can stories help you?
Stories show rather than tell. (example: one simple technique is highlighted here for teaching about improved pedestrian routes).
What kinds of stories teach?
- Short, memorable stories that illustrate one surprising or unexpected fact
- Stories that show human experience as authentic and credible, lending believability to science and research. (example: how a school changed its lunch menu)
If you are working to change policy and systems, your group needs a strong and united commitment to persevere. Stories can help build, maintain and reinforce this commitment.
What kinds of stories build commitment?
Those that build trusted relationships—"why you do what you do" stories. For example when telling these stories people most often talk about:
- Why they care about the issue they're working on
- What happened in their life that led them to do this work
(Here are examples on our Why You Do What You Do page)
Story has the power to help people believe in new possibilities. (Here's how a school got kids excited about eating vegetables).
What kinds of stories transform?
- Stories with a sympathetic character who changes.
- Stories that show achievement and motivation.
- Stories of success and impact.
You have to connect with emotions and values for people to make decisions and act on them, whether it is to join a coalition, visit a legislator, or support your idea. Stories build trust. The audience doesn't separate the speaker from the message; by telling a personal story you are more likeable, knowable, and easier to trust.
We all have stories that can make a difference. Many people already are sharing their stories and taking part in activities that help our communities become healthier places to live, work, learn, and play.
Click here to learn how you can share your personal story with Cook County Voices and inspire others!
For more information on storytelling and use, please visit Prevention Speaks.