Dramatic Tension

“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.” This is how Louise Erdrich started her book, Tracks. A tactile opening is essential to engage readers and audiences alike. And if the opening includes a challenge, all the better. Obstacles create dramatic tension and hook the audience. Well-crafted narratives are critical for any speaker, whether convincing your team to adopt a new program, your Board to sign off on a new budget, or a client to engage your services.

Anecdotes activate specific areas of the brain. Include taste or smell, as in “fresh grass, or burning tar” and the sensory cortex lights up. Include motion, as in “lightning flashed, or the bird flew” and the motor cortex lights up. When more than one region of the brain is illuminated, content has a better chance of being embedded into long term memory.

Stories are about cause and effect, which is also how the brain works– interpreting patterns to form a narrative. Use specific, visual details and make the listener “see” your words.

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