When I was young girl, pink wasn’t exactly my favorite color. It wasn’t because I didn’t like “girly” things. I just didn’t think pink was a particularly strong enough color for my personality.
But as I have gotten older, my mind has changed. I now see pink as a vibrant and powerful color. Why? Because every year, I am reminded of what pink stands for: strong women united together through shared experiences and stories, educating other women about a life-threatening and life-changing disease—breast cancer.
Think what you will about the mass marketing of the Pink Ribbon, but I challenge you to think about the meaning it embodies and not be stirred by its powerful emotions. It is not, however, the color of the ribbon. Rather, it is the stories behind it, particularly the personal voices of everyday women and families.
In today’s environment, the personal story is critical in how we motivate people to think and act differently. Patients and doctors often engage in storytelling. Whether it is from a patient in a breast cancer support group or between a physician and a patient during an office visit, stories are an essential part of how we communicate, interpret experiences and incorporate new information into our lives.
New evidence shows that storytelling can even help improve health. Earlier this year, The Annals of Internal Medicine published the results of a clinical trial examining the effects of storytelling on patients with high blood pressure. Researchers involved with the study found that patients experienced “substantial and significant improvements in blood pressure” when they heard the personal stories of other patients like them.
At Ogilvy PR, storytelling is at the core of what we do. We believe stories can cause change and stir people into action. From its origin, behavioral scientists, research psychologists and neuroscientists have all come to agree that humans use stories to make sense of things, from organizing experiences, to interpreting complexities and making decisions.
Our need for story goes back a long way. To a long time before the written alphabet. Which is sort of the point—stories were how our ancestors, huddled around campfires shared and learned and warned and celebrated. Consider Aesop, one of our first story-tellers. His fables are some of the best known in the world. It’s a tradition that has carried on, through masters of the modern fable: George Orwell, Italo Calvino, and Dr. Seuss…
From some of the best, we have found that there are some simple rules for telling a story
•Show–Don’t Tell: Create a movie in the listener’s mind using your own words to connect with the audience. The more visually-enticing language that you use, the more people will take note.
•Hook Them With a Great Beginning: Great stories have great beginnings, with vivid words and phrases that spark intrigue and make people listen.
•Simplify: A good story does not have to be long; a few magnificent, concise thoughts can hook an audience immediately.
•Details Make it Real: People want to hear about real-life experiences because it’s those details that help to make the story more believable.
•Know Your Listener’s Frame of Reference and Use Metaphors and Analogies.
Personal stories are important. As you see now, sometimes… yes, sometimes they can even save your life!