the power of story and stats

There is an ongoing debate as far as sales presentations are concerned.

Stories or statistics?

Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, a character on the AMC original series Mad Men, didn’t use statistics or numbers in his presentations. Draper focused on stories.

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For most people, numbers aren’t memorable. Stories are. Stories are emotionally persuasive. We make decisions primarily with emotion and use logic to justify them later. There’s the power of the story.

When we hear a story, we become the protagonist. In our minds, the story is real and it’s happening to us, not somebody else. If the story is about food, our sensory cortex lights up. If the story is about motion, our motor cortex lights up. This is as if we are eating cake or driving a race car.

When we tell a story, our brain and our listeners’ brain sync up.

We plant ideas and emotions into our audience’s brain with a story.

Data depends on how we use it. Story activates the emotional centers of the brain and data activates the logic centers. Activating both at the same time can be extremely powerful.

For example, if you tell a story about how you helped someone, then combine that story with data that explains how much you helped them, your story becomes more compelling.

For some consumers, a story is all they need. But others aren’t so sure.They’re  less impressed by the flashy details. Numbers make us trust. We think of numbers as unbiased, objective, and unemotional. Numbers do not trigger the emotional parts of ourselves.

We treat numbers with logic and we expect the same treatment from data in return.

It’s a bias marketers can use. While people act on their gut instinct (intuition), they still confirm that instinct with logic. Data should confirm the story… not replace it.

In writing or speaking, lead with the story. Grab attention with an anecdote. Paint a narrative picture. Put the data in a visual context. Illustrate your point.

Data storytelling is a powerful tool for content marketers. Use your data analyst to create compelling data that informs and entices, blending data and story to provide value, insight, and meaning to your audience. To drive the point home, explain your data visualization.

Answer, “So what?”

Become more persuasive by delivering data in the context of the larger story. You become more persuasive with a more powerful story.

 

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