Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Go from Facts to Truth with Neuroscience and Storytelling
There is no one thing more powerful than the power of a good story.
Ask someone a direct question and they'll try to give you an honest answer. But have them tell you a story and jewels will emerge that will be surprisingly illuminating. Professional storyteller and CEO of Story Strategies Lisa Lipkin shared her storytelling experience at the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference. Lipkin shared original storytelling techniques for extracting emotionally honest information in a safe and effective way and how to interpret those narrative responses.
At the most basic level, humans are hardwired for stories because our brains thrive on wanting to know, “will this information help me survive?” When we share information, e.g., what we as moderators tell respondents or clients and what we hear in return, the information gets translated neurologically in ways that are undoubtedly powerful, although, not fully understood. We do know, however, the benefits of storytelling are multi-fold. Lipkin shared that storytelling promotes healing, increases dopamine and decreases stress levels. If we tell an emotionally-inducing story, not only are we the storytellers producing oxytocin, but so does the listener. Storytelling creates a neural coupling affect that results in greater connection and resonance between and/or among listeners.
Tips and tricks for delivering and eliciting stories:
See the story in everything. Every object and person, even the most mundane of things has a story. We may have to stare at things for uncomfortably long periods of times, but staring long enough will reveal the story.
Tip: Have respondents use the things and objects around them to tell their story.
Fact is not the truth. Never start your presentation to a client by stating what the important facts are. Instead, consider what fascinates, compels and/or moves you the most, and start with that. Due to neural coupling, if you are not engaged or moved by the story, nor will your audience be engaged.
Tip: The key to compelling delivery is to start with the emotion and it can be a totally random emotion but make this the core story, then follow with the facts. Let the facts hang on the core or the emotionally punchy story for more impact.
- Know when your chapter is over. Be mindful of your audience and timing so that you know when your story has run its course. Listeners and audiences will know if the storyteller is not being authentic
Tip: It is important to regularly recharge emotionally to ensure your storytelling stays effective.
Three specific techniques to help with eliciting stories from your participants:
- Ask them where did they play as a kid? Have them be very specific as they answer.
- Use objects. E.g., tell me the story about your accessory. Objects are vehicles that allow participants to not know that anything is being expected of them so that they can share deeper nuggets of truth.
- Use the invisible. For example, hand an imaginary box to your respondent and ask her to reach in and take out any object that was precious to her grandparents. Asking the participant to speak about her grandparents and not herself helps remove the direct association to the respondent; allowing her to be more honest. This approach almost always, and subconsciously, reveals what is ultimately truly meaningful to the respondent.
Remember: There is no one thing more powerful than the power of a good story.
Putting it into practice:
I really enjoyed the session and appreciated Lipkin sharing her experience with all of us at the conference. I thought the elicitation tips were spot on and will incorporate them into practice.
We are all neurologically wired for a story, so let's start telling stories.
There’s no way to prepare for what we are going to hear, but as moderators we have to release some control and trust that these questions will go somewhere and lead to some very insightful information and jewels!
QRCA Reporter on the Scene:
Verbal Clue Qualitative Research