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Fact: Humans Think in Stories, not Facts

Enhance your communication skills with these simple techniques.

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open facing story book in nature
Open Facing Story Book

Have you ever wondered how some of the greatest minds are able to break down such intricate ideas and share them so fluidly with the rest of the world?

Additionally, have you ever thought about how you’ve been able to grasp such complex ideas and why you can remember some ideas better than others?

Yuval Noah Harari writes in his book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century that, “humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers or equations and the simpler the story, the better.”

Ideas, concepts and thoughts that are communicated via a simple story allow for visualization to occur. This engages the mind fully, as well as the brain and both System 1 and System 2 have a chance of fully grasping the concepts being explained. When you visualize an idea you also have a better chance of retaining the information presented.

Performance Pressure and Effective Communication

Most of us learned the rules of communication at a young age, perhaps in elementary school and through public speaking. Yet as we’ve progressed into our professional lives, the rules have slightly changed by the pressure to perform, to showcase our skills, and to gain the “right” to have a voice.

These pressures can easily interfere with communicating effectively and though it may seem like a good idea to “number stuff” or talk in statistics to show you know what you’re talking about, the sole focus must always be on whether the listener can grasp the concepts being explained.

Here are 3 Tips for Communicating in Simple Stories:

1. Start small and add on.

When presenting an idea, explain it in short sentences. Answer the basic 5W’s and how. Then if necessary, add on. Chances are the listener will be highly engaged because you’ve given them the opportunity to be. This will likely lead to questions where you can mention additional info and stats!

2. Inverse Funnel: Present your idea backwards.

Though we have a natural tendency to save the grand reveal until the end, your story may be even more intriguing if you share the big idea first. Have you ever heard a neuroscientist talk about advances in neuroplasticity and how it can change the genetic makeup of generations to come? Woah. That’s a big idea. Aren’t you intrigued to understand how this was figured out?

3. Ask Questions.

Lastly, engage your audience. Ask questions that will keep them actively listening but that may also give you additional opportunities to explain your idea. This is of mutual benefit to both parties because you get to explain your idea further and they get to learn more.

As we advance our knowledge, our careers and relationships, the rules of impactful communication will remain vital if we want to share and express our ideas, and most importantly have them proliferate. The world’s greatest minds patiently helped shape and advance our knowledge, we can do it too.

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