Stories BEFORE Theories

People will forget what you say — they won’t forget how you made them feel — stories make people FEEL SOMETHING.

Imagine coming home after a 12 hour workday, you had 3 straight-from-hell-client meetings, you spent an hour begging your Macbook to please print a document without chopping off part of the page and had a one hour long commute on the subway trying not to touch anything, only to stumble into your house at a quarter past 8.

Luckily, your dear husband took care of dinner and put the kids to bed, so you inhale a plate of spaghetti and meatballs while trying not to snap his head off and take yourself and your twice-topped off glass of wine to the master bathroom.

You light a couple of candles and run the water hot enough to boil lobster in, and when the tub is almost full you lower yourself into the tub sighing with relief and exhaustion and gratitude all at the same time.

Oops — you filled the tub almost to the brim and most of the hot water sloshes out onto the floor.

Oh well, you sigh and resolve to clean it up later and so you sip your wine, lean back and get to thinking:

  • The amount of water that’s displaced in the tub is probably equal to the amount you weigh.
  • There is a force gravity that’s keeping you down while there is a force called buoyancy trying to exert itself in the opposite direction and keep you afloat.
  • If the buoyancy exceeds the force of gravity you are exerting you’ll probably float.
  • Excited you grab a pen and piece of paper and scribble formulas until you come up with this: (density of object / density of fluid) = (weight / weight of displaced fluid).
  • You are a genius, you can now calculate if ships will sink or float in shallow waters and a whole host of useful things.
  • You decide to call this formula Archimedes Principle — after yourself…and you smile and relax back into the now warm water, knowing that you will be the source of equal parts delight and torture for generations of physics and maths students to come.

Okay — okay that’s not exactly how it happened but isn’t this story so much more interesting and understandable than; ‘Archimedes came up with his formula in the bath and it’s (density of object / density of fluid) = (weight / weight of displaced fluid). Now let’s use this formula to do 16 pages of poke your eye out with a sharp pencil science problems.’

Really sometimes I wish I could go back and re-write my high school textbooks just to make them more fun, relatable, memorable and engaging; however what I can do is share this story and perhaps motivate you to share stories with your audience before you share theories with them.

Stories stick in our minds, they help us understand concepts better even help us see how we can apply them to our own lives.

I know in your work as online entrepreneurs and course creators you have tons of super valuable theories, and techniques and tools to share with your audience but before you do that…try sharing a story instead.

To get you started, here are 3 tips to weaving stories into your course material:

  1. Share a story that’s linked to your topic, it could be from personal experience, it could be a well-known tale or it could be something current and in the news that you tie into what you talk about.
  2. Make it detail rich — engage the senses, try and tell the story with as much detail as possible, think about how you would describe this story to someone if they had their eyes closed and you wanted them to experience the moment almost as if it was happening to them.
  3. Use humour or not, share the story your way. Some of us are dramatic storytellers, some of us can make anything sound funny or frisky or exciting. Let your personality shine through and become an excellent spinner of stories and an even better facilitator of content.