July 10, 2019 | Storytelling

Storytelling and the Richest Man in the World


When you have a choice between your audience remembering 10% of what you have to say or 65%, which would you choose?

There are many reasons why stories work better than facts. But the main reason is that we are wired for interpersonal connections and stories ignite our natural tendency to emotionally engage in the lives, experiences, and drama of others.

It’s no surprise then that the richest man in the world has banned PowerPoint presentations in executive meetings at Amazon. In his 2018 annual letter to stockholders, Jeff Bezos said that “narrative structure” is more effective than PowerPoint.

Instead of bulleted PowerPoint presentations, executive meetings begin with attendees sitting silently for about 30 minutes to read a “six-page memo that’s narratively structured with real sentences, topic sentences, verbs, and nouns.” After attendees are done reading, they discuss the narrative.

“[Storytelling is] so much better than the typical PowerPoint presentation for so many reasons.” – Jeff Bezos

Imagine that.

And the richest man in the world isn’t the only trillion dollar company CEO to also believe in the power of storytelling. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, is training executives and employees to present information in a bolder, fresher style—less text heavy and more visual.

“Since stories are best told with pictures, bullet points and text-heavy slides are increasingly avoided at Google.” – Sundar Pichai

There’s a good reason for all this focus on storytelling. As humans, our brains are incredible at remembering pictures, especially when combined with stories. Hear a fact, and three days later you’ll only remember about 10% of it. See a picture and hear a correlated story and you’ll remember about 65%.

When the power of visual storytelling is combined with individual relevance, a level of interest, engagement, and impression can be formed beyond that of any other means of communication.

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