What if Martin Luther King, Jr. had given the “I Have a Dream” speech with PowerPoint slides? I have also wondered what would have happened if Winston Churchill had given his now-famous “Never Give Up” speech with PowerPoint slides. Which is better: the PowerPoint or a Story Point? Both are useful. Both can be insightful; however, when it comes to persuasion, telling a compelling story has greater potency. Let us explore some of the science underlying this idea.
Thanks to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, it is now known that the chemistry of the brain changes significantly during an engaging or a dramatic story. This is particularly true “when you listen to an emotionally-charged story,” according to Dr. Paul Zak, a pioneer in the field of neuro-economics.
When you listen to a story, both the “left and right” brains are engaged. They come alive in response to the details expressed in a story. This is a far cry from what happens when a hotshot MBA holder delivers a PowerPoint presentation that is skillfully constructed with graphs, complex charts, and chockful with statistical data that predominantly engages the logical brain.
Stories tend to be more engaging in that they are relatable and arouse human feelings. Take, for instance; when you mention in your story that you took a warm bath with a lemon-scented soap. This elicits a sensual response beyond the logical language-processing brain that tends to focus on facts, figures, and logic.
PowerPoint presentations tend to activate mainly the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas of the brain. These are primarily responsible for language processing, i.e., where the brain decodes words logical meaning. If you are the creator or the founder of Rosetta Stone’s home study program on languages, that is where you make your living.
On the other hand, if you are a teacher, a coach, or an entrepreneur, you need to share facts that are wrapped with inspiration and encouragement. If you like your job and want to engage, encourage, and uplift reluctant people, then choose story point over Powerpoint.
Use your story power as Mandela did; not only to spare yourself of capital punishment but also to rally a rainbow nation and paint a picture of a future that is appealing to most people of goodwill. To paint a picture that is more persuasive, dare to persuade with a story point, not PowerPoint.