Storytelling, the Brain, and the Worst Boss Ever
RobThank you for reading. I hope you enjoy this month's stories and tips. And for those of you celebrating the holiday next week, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
—  Rob Biesenbach

This is Your Brain on Stories

When I was three years old I got my head stuck in the railings of our balcony. I remember it vividly.

We were living in a high-rise apartment in France and my father, an Army paratrooper, parachuted from the roof of the building and pushed my head back through the rails on his way down.

Obviously, only part of this story is true. And that says a lot about how our brains work and how we can use that knowledge to our advantage when communicating.

Lesson 1: Your Brain is a Story Machine

At some point I manufactured the part of the story where I got my head unstuck. But I "remember" it just as clearly as I recall the other elements of the story.

Our brains are so wired for stories that they are constantly working to assemble the random bits of our experience into a structure we can comprehend. My Dad was my hero, he jumped out of planes for a living, so naturally he swooped down to rescue me. It made sense then and it made a better story.

Lesson 2: To Make Your Ideas Stick, Tell a Story

As for the true part of this event, I don't know if I remember experiencing it or if I've just heard the story so many times around the family dinner table that I think I remember it.

Studies have shown that when a person hears a story, it triggers the same area of the brain that's stimulated when a person experiences an event. So as far as the brain is concerned, there's little distinction between story and experience, which is part of what makes stories so powerful.

Lesson 3: Know Your Audience

If you want your stories to resonate and stick in the way you intended, get to know your audience. Who are they, what do they want, how are you connected? 

Since people are already reshuffling your stories in their minds, it pays to tell stories that will connect with their values, beliefs and world view.

How Can I Help You Tell Your Story?

In the past few weeks, I've had the opportunity to help a variety of people tell their stories:
  • I conducted a 90-minute storytelling workshop in New York for a CEO and his direct reports.
  • I delivered a new webinar on Storytelling for Lawyers for alumni of American University's College of Law.
  • I've scripted videos, speeches and even edited a short remembrance book a client wrote for a loved one.
If I can help you tell your story, just reply to this email and let's talk!

The Worst Boss Ever: A Thanksgiving Video

Video Screen Cap

We've all experienced it: the boss or client from hell who absolutely, positively needs it yesterday. It's particularly painful when it happens around the holidays. So a few years ago I created this video:

Watch "The Artificial Deadline" on YouTube

By the way, xtranormal was a great little tool for creating quick videos like this. Alas, it's no longer available.

What's Tweeting

Here are some great things I've come across and shared recently: 
What's New
  • Fifth Third Bank AdThe caption for this ad would have scared the daylights out of my Dad, who was always very concerned about whether I was planning my financial future properly. The ad is for Fifth Third Bank and is running in magazines and online.
  • My alma mater's alumni magazine got me to narrow the 11 Deadly Presentation Sins down to the 6 most critical in this nice feature. Look for the book in early 2014!
  • In the new year I'll be developing a custom workshop and coaching program to help a client's staff improve their writing skills.

What He Said

"When you're telling these stories, have a point.
It makes it so much more interesting for the listener."

– Steve Martin, Planes, Trains and Automobiles

My mailing address is:
Rob Biesenbach LLC
2011 Orrington Ave
Evanston, IL 60201

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