Persuasion and the Power of Story: Jennifer Aaker (Future of StoryTelling 2013)

Video Transcript

once upon the time information was
scarce so we made decisions based on the
advice of experts using them as North
Stars for instance now thanks to the
internet we can ourselves try and find
our own answers to questions that plague
us and find information to make informed
decisions but instead of finding clear
answers we often find noise we’re living
in a world where we have too much
information and because of that were
even more susceptible to great story
it’s what helps us decide what to
believe in stories are important because
they’re meaningful and they’re
meaningful because they’re memorable
impactful and they personally connect
first let’s talk about memorability
Eugene O’Kelly was a CEO of a consulting
company he started having headaches he
was referred to a top neurosurgeon in
New York where he was diagnosed late
stage brain cancer and he was given
three months to live he started talking
to his wife how does he want to spend
those hundred days he was purposeful
about who he spent time with and what
stories to share with them he also
thought hard about what would be
remembered in those last 100 days
Tina’s wife would live each day with a
focus on finding perfect moments where
time expands and we noise is separated
from signal all that exists is that
single moment and he found in those
perfect moments those were the most
memorable stories that defined his life
in one study researchers asked students
to make a one-minute persuasive pitch to
other members in the class and on
average typical student use 2.5
statistics in their pitch only one in
ten told a story 10 minutes later the
researcher asked everyone to pull out a
sheet of paper and write down every
single idea they remember only 5%
remember any statistic 63% of the
students remember the story stories are
memorable in a way that statistics
aren’t now let me talk about impact
research shows that individuals are more
likely to buy from a person or an
organization whose story they believe in
and which resonates become in one study
Deb small at the University of
Pennsylvania and her colleagues wanted
to determine how to best raise money for
Save the Children a charity focused on
the well-being of children worldwide we
created two versions of a marketing
pamphlet the first version featured
statistics about the magnitude of
problems facing children in Africa the
second version also featured those
statistics but in addition provided
information about Rokia a seven-year-old
girl from Mali who faced the threat of
severe hunger the subjects were given
five dollars as compensation for the
study and before leaving the researchers
asked if they wanted to donate any money
to the cause the individuals in the
story condition gave nearly twice as
much money as those in the statistics
we used to think it was our rational
brain that makes decisions now we know
it’s emotion driving decisions and we
rationalize the decision afterwards
finally I want to talk about personal
connection research shows that if we
present statistics to an audience a
certain part of the brain called the
Broca’s and Wernicke’s area gets
activated so the language processing
part of the brain is activated and we
can understand but not feel when the
story is shared the audience feels the
story our whole brain is activated and
meaning is extracted the meaning of the
story comes from the personal connection
audience feels when they’re listening to
the story and when a story is well told
they’re able to feel connected not just
to the story but to the storyteller when
most of us think of advocating for ideas
we go to statistics we go to convincing
arguments facts and figures but studies
show that if we share a story people are
more likely to remember the message be
persuaded by it feel personally
connected to it and when data and
stories are used together audiences are
moved both intellectually and
emotionally for lasting effect you need
to persuade the rational brain but also
resonate with emotional brain recent
behavioral research has shown why
stories are so powerful it’s because
they’re meaningful those who tell the
best stories will become the best
leaders if we consider the simple
question what is the story or why am I
doing this we may find we make very
different choices at how we spend our
isabel allende once wrote silence before
being born so it’s after death life is
nothing but noise between those two
unfathomable silences but there is
signal and there is noise and how do we
reduce the noise story

Video Description

Jennifer Aaker studies happiness, and how stories can affect our happiness; she believes that stories are more meaningful — more memorable, more impactful, and more personal–than statistics alone.

When used with statistical data, stories are an incredible persuasive tool that can help us as humans decide what to believe in a world that is otherwise incredibly over-saturated with information.

A Future of StoryTelling Film. Produced by Melcher Media and Banana Bird, animated by Evan Seitz

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Author: dhobson