Storytelling is an old tradition that was always about more than just entertainment. Oral histories are all about stories because people remember something more clearly if it comes wrapped in a story.
The concept of storytelling
I learned this concept at a seminar on building memories. We were learning about mind mapping as a tool. The presenter used mind maps to model every presentation he did. To show us the effectiveness, he told us a story of the solar system. The audience admitted to knowing what most of the planets were, but they were iffy about the order of the planets.
His story stuck with me all these years – at least 25 so far. The solar system is like a neighborhood.
In the first yard is a shiny little ball of Mercury, next door is a beautiful woman named Venus, who picks up the ball thinking it would make some lovely jewelry. It is hot and she tosses it over her shoulder into Earth’s garden. Earth doesn’t want that metallic object in the center of his organic garden so he tosses it to his angry neighbor, Mars.
Mars is all red faced and angry so he bats the ball across to his giant neighbor, Jupiter who thinks the ball would look lovely in the ring of his neighbor Saturn. She looks up and sees her friend in the sky, Uranus, and shows off her new bauble. Before Uranus can say anything, the last neighbor on the street Neptune picks the bauble up on his trident and offers it to his little dog Pluto. Yes, there were 9 planets when I heard this story.
The point is that memorizing the nine planets is one way to do it, but storytelling gives you some action to hang onto. If memorizing names worked every time, we would all know the seven dwarves, and the 9 reindeer.
Try storytelling for things you need to know
The trick is to find an analogy – the solar system as a neighborhood, and then build a thread through the information until you have a story.
The solar system story used links like Earth being an organic garden, Pluto being a dog (Disney). It used the travel of the bauble as plot and the final snatch by Neptune as the climax.
Storytelling doesn’t have to be subtle, it doesn’t have to be great. It just builds a framework for information.