The Perfect Story

From the time we’re born, the human brain works hard in organizing patterns.  Patterns of images, patterns of speech, patterns of thought. The brain attaches feelings and emotions to those images.   It processes images not words.  If I said the word, ‘KITA,’ your brain may sense a word soundly like kitty; however, it is Swahili for ‘horse.’  Once a word is attached to an image the brain moves to make other connections.   Our brain is naturally hot-wired to identify images and patterns.  Storytelling is perfect for both communication and learning.

Two thousand years ago, Aristotle, identified a pattern and created a formula or template for what he felt was the perfect story.  He broke down storytelling into three distinct parts:


  1. Ethos is Greek for Credibility, which constitutes 30%.
  2. Pathos is Greek for emotions, which constitutes 50%
  3. Logos is Greek for logic, which constitutes 20%.

I purposefully have developed this blog into smaller chunks of 500 words so that the main idea can be quickly absorbed.  We will cover emotions today and the next two blogs will focus on credibility and logic.

Leonardo Da Vinci wrote, “The principles for the development of a Complete Mind:  Study the science of Art.  Study the Art of Science.  Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Let’s look at the science of Art, or in our case—Strategic Storytelling.

Modern Neuroscientist have been exploring the human brain for the past 50 years.  They have used MRi scanners and other technology to map the human mind.  Physiologist have discovered that the human brain releases certain hormones when emotional events are activated. Six of these hormones are: Dopamine, Serotonin, Cortisol, Endorphin, Adrenaline, and Oxytocin.  I will discuss the two key ones.


The first is dopamine.  This natural drug is associated with attention, motivation, short-term memory tasks.  Dopamine helps the listener to focus or pay attention.  Think when you are at the movies.  Your focus is on the screen, not on the people around you.  The movie captures your emotions visually, because it is a story.

Another example: I tell you I’m about to give you a phone number.  I will say it only once.  If you call this number within one minute of my telling you, you will win one million dollars.  If the reward is worth it, dopamine will be released to aide in your short-term memory.

The second natural drug is Oxytocin.  This is also known as the ‘Trust’ drug.  It is a n natural drug that we humans experience when we experience mutual social bonding and at higher levels sexual pleasure.  It is released when you ‘like’ someone or feel safe around a person.

Together Dopamine and Oxytocin are very important in strategic storytelling.  I call them the ‘DO’ mix.  The DO mix transforms a speech from a rehearsed pitch into a flowing strategic storytelling venture.

In my next blog, I will talk about the importance of credibility.  How to build it and how to incorporate it into your strategic story.

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