The brain science behind how storytelling affects all of us is truly fascinating. I think the most interesting part is that it is totally out of our control. It just happens!
When we hear emotional stories, our brains release oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for creating trust, recognition, and bonding in humans.
Oxytocin is present in our most intimate interactions, like kissing a partner or breastfeeding. It’s powerful stuff that increases our empathy and trust. It’s the reason you cry during certain T.V. commercials! Here is one I have loved since the moment I first saw it.
When we hear or read stories, it ignites the parts of our brains that we would use if we were actually experiencing those events ourselves!
We’re putting our sensory cortexes to work, and those experiences are then stored in the hippocampus, the part of our brain that has powerful recall skills.
Whenever I’m doing a presentation, I always start off with a personal story. It’s definitely putting myself in a vulnerable position to share something from my life with a sea of strangers, but it’s a powerful way to create a human connection … and that’s the part that I enjoy most.
An emotional reaction to the character in the story (or the speaker) is the catalyst for releasing oxytocin and creating a real bond.
To me, this can all be compared to looking for a house … you know if it’s the right house for you within a couple of minutes of walking through the front door. When telling a story or making a presentation, you need to capture your reader or your audience within the first 10 pages or 2 minutes!
Storytelling is definitely an art, but there is a huge biological component to it as well. Our brains are just wired this way. Never miss out on the opportunity for a real human connection!