The Old is New Again

Posted by on November 7, 2011

Storytelling is gaining momentum.  Open-mic nights are the hot ticket in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and New York with people lining up two hours before show time to hear storytellers tell stories.

Let’s look at the reasons why:

“Storytelling is human connection at its most primal form,” says Catherine Burns, artistic director for the storytelling broadcast, The Moth, winner of the 2010 Peabody Award for excellence in electronic media. “In the midst of this technological revolution, it’s not surprising to me that people are looking to return to their roots. We want more than a status update about a breakfast cereal or someone’s child’s potty-training escapades. We crave more than a ‘like’ on Facebook or a retweeted Tweet. Storytelling is to entertainment as the slow food movement is to dining – it’s fresh and it’s local.”

Researchers at Princeton University in 2010 discovered that storytellers cause the brains of their listeners to operate in synch with their own. Greg J. Stephens, Lauren J. Silbert and Uri Hasson used functional magnetic resonance imaging to reveal how the same brain areas in the storyteller and the listener were stimulated at precisely the same points in the story.

The biological mechanism that enables vicarious experience was only recently discovered. Groups of specialized neurons called “mirror neurons” exist opposite each other in the left and right hemispheres of the brain, allowing us to vicariously paricipate in what someone else is experiencing.

These neurons enable human empathy, allowing us to tune in to each others’ feelings. In effect, mirror neurons allow you to live inside the minds of others. This is why hearing stories of adventure is almost as exciting as having the adventure yourself.

You don’t take books and movies with you; they take you with them.

When you’re watching sports, a piece of you is in that game.

Salespeople, evangelists and speechwriters have long known that a good story can cause the listener to see and feel what the storyteller is seeing and feeling, thereby empowering the storyteller to transfer ideas and emotions intact.

Every good story provides a point of entry – a portal – that allows the listener to join in the adventure.

Secrets to Storytelling in Advertising will be the topic of our monthly webinar next Monday, November 14, and a special Storytelling Workshop will soon be announced at Wizard Academy.

Questions? Jackie is your girl. You can phone her during business hours (Central Time) at 512-295-5700 or email her at

Adventure. Storytelling. Advertising.

Taking your business to the next level.

Find your adventure. Tell your story.

It works every time.

Roy H. Williams

PS – Let the chaos begin.

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