Storytelling: Beyond the buzzword

Why do we connect with stories more than numbers?

Stories are an essential component of the way we communicate and understand our world. They have the power to connect people with purpose, customers with products and citizens with their leaders.

A cheat code for being understood

When you connect to a story, your brain becomes actively engaged in processing the narrative, characters, and events. This triggers a series of cognitive, emotional, and physiological responses that allow you to experience the story in a way that feels real and meaningful.

When you hear a story, the language-processing regions of your brain become activated—allowing you to understand and comprehend. At the same time, your brain's emotional centers—such as the amygdala and insula—are activated. This allows you to experience emotions like those of characters in a story.

What happens to us when we listen to someone's story?

When you hear someone's story, several chemicals can be released in your brain, contributing to the experience of empathy and connection. Some of the most notable chemicals include:

  1. Oxytocin: This hormone is often referred to as the "cuddle hormone" because it is associated with feelings of bonding and trust. When you hear someone's story, the release of oxytocin can help you feel more connected to the speaker and their experiences.

  2. Dopamine: This is a neurotransmitter that is often associated with pleasure and reward. It can be released when you hear a story that is enjoyable or engaging.

  3. Serotonin: This neurotransmitter is associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. When you hear a story that is satisfying or uplifting, the release of serotonin can contribute to a sense of happiness and satisfaction.

  4. Adrenaline: This hormone is known for its role in the "fight or flight" response, but it can also be released during intense emotional experiences, such as when you hear a dramatic or suspenseful story.

  5. Endorphins: These are natural painkillers that are also associated with feelings of pleasure and euphoria. When you hear a story that is enjoyable or engaging, endorphins can be released, contributing to feelings of happiness and satisfaction.

Storytelling as a reporting method

Storytelling can be a more effective way to communicate information than statistics because it has the power to engage people emotionally and create a memorable impact. When you hear a story, your brain becomes actively engaged in processing the narrative, characters, and events, which allows you to experience the story in a way that feels real and meaningful.

Statistics and data can be difficult for people to understand and relate to, especially if they are presented in an abstract or dry manner. People remember stories better than facts which makes the information more memorable and impactful.

If we are to make compassionate and empathetic choices, stories can help us see the world from another person's point of view. Although statistics and data are important in understanding our impact, we have the opportunity to complement those numbers with authentic stories.

To learn more about Folktale and how we can help you collect stories from diverse voices in your world, contact

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Speak to one of our team to learn more about how Folktale can help you understand your impact beyond numbers.

We would like to acknowledge and pay respects to the Traditional Custodians and Elders of the lands where we live, learn and work and extend our respect to Traditional Custodians whose country we create on, to their Elders, both past, present and emerging. We also celebrate and embrace diversity and strive to take an inter-sectional approach that empowers those around us and is respectful of their lived experience. We endeavour to create an environment that is equitable and  inclusive for everyone we work with and for, where everyone's voice is heard.

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