Why do we tell stories?

Imagine the following situation. An office. Three people meet at the coffee machine, all wanting fresh coffee. 

While they’re filling their mugs, one of them asks, “Who wants to hear a funny story?”. The other two nod and the first guy tells them about something funny that happened to him last night. Everybody has a good time, and after a few minutes, they all return to their desks.

Now imagine the same situation, except this time the guy asks, “Who wants to hear a sales presentation?”. The other two hastily fill their mugs, mumble something about having to work, and run off to their desks.

Why do we hate presentations?

Why does listening to a story seem more exciting or rewarding than listening to a presentation? Because we are addicts!

Wait, what? Yes, all of us are addicted to the hormones our brain dispenses. Most of us are serotonin or dopamine junkies, and some are adrenaline junkies. The so-called “happiness hormones” are the primary driver of most of our decisions and actions. 

And this is what happens when we listen to a story. When we make an emotional connection with the person telling the story and can relate to the content of the story, our brain hands out free rounds of “happiness hormone” cocktails. And the junkie gets his reward. Nothing terrible about it. It just means you’re a human being.

What does that mean for my business presentation?

So does this mean you should never again do a business presentation and, from now on, just tell funny stories about what happened to you last night?

No, of course not. It’s just a straightforward example of the impact of stories and why you should consider using storytelling as a tool the next time you prepare a business presentation.

If you think that sounds interesting but don’t know where to start, get in touch with me, and let’s talk about how I can help your audience get the hormone reward they need.