Keys to Storytelling

Storytelling | Communication | Neurology | Chemicals | Marketing

It’s no accident that storytelling is one of the most effective forms of marketing. It’s not just a historical form of communication going back to cavemen illustrations. It actually triggers neurological responses that make the listener more receptive to the message you’re trying to convey. Here are three of the chemicals released by the human brain when it receives a story.

One of the first chemicals released is dopamine. This is a pleasurable response, usually coupled with rewards. Your brain releases dopamine whenever you see a notification on your phone that someone liked your picture on social media or left a comment. It’s created by a sense of anticipation that the experience will reward the listener by the end of the story. With storytelling, this chemical is created during times of tension—for example cliffhangers. The promise of a reward and the euphoric feelings will encourage the listener to focus while you tell your story.[i]

Next is Oxytocin, which makes listeners more receptive to the message of your story and more likely to accept your call to action. This is created when you create a sense of empathy between the audience and the characters in your story. An example of this is when you hear marketers preaching authenticity. It makes the storyteller more relatable, more empathetic. If they share an intimate detail about their past, about a thanksgiving dinner that changed their life, or the time they suffered a tragedy, the audience will feel a sense of connection to them.

The third and final chemical I will discuss in this article is endorphins. These are popularly known as a runner’s high because our bodies create them during exercise. They boost overall health and relax the listener. One way to enable the release of this chemical is humor. Endorphin production is common with memes and meme marketing online because it’s easy for the viewer to digest and makes them laugh. If you can fit in a well-timed joke the audience will associate your brand with that feeling.

This concludes the audience’s reaction to storytelling and how this form of marketing works. These responses, combined with the three traits all stories need (characters, conflict, resolution) will help you create the blueprint for your future stories to encourage the kind of response you want to generate from your audience.


[i] https://www.forbes.com/sites/giovannirodriguez/2017/07/21/this-is-your-brain-on-storytelling-the-chemistry-of-modern-communication/#6890812dc865

https://demandspring.com/blog/the-science-behind-storytelling/

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