Field Note 4

Field Note 4

Narrative (storytelling) is powerful because it is built on cause and effect.

Narrative, or storytelling,  describes cause and affect.  Cause and effect, by definition, create movement.  This engages us and carries us along.


  1. Jack is a 10-year veteran of our customer service department and cares deeply about customer satisfaction.  Time and time again Jack goes above and beyond to make sure customers are happy.
  2. As he drove home from work Jack noticed an email on his iPhone from a customer he had spoken to that afternoon. He pulled his car over and spent the next 15 minutes on the phone digging through reference materials in his briefcase to walk the customer through troubleshooting the software installation.

The first Jack barely gets your attention because there’s no narrative.  The second Jack?  You know he’s committed to excellent customer service.  Noticed an email, pulled his car to the side of the road, dug through his briefcase, to walk the customer through.  Cause and effect.  Movement.  All coming from narrative.  This is what storytelling does.

Our brains are wired for cause and effect.  It’s how we make sense out of situations.  It helps us remember.

If you want to persuade, if you want to be remembered, use narrative. Tell a story.

  • Stephen Lahey

    Excellent advice. Enjoyed this post, Hamilton!

    • hamiltonwallace

      Thanks Steve. It boggles my mind at how little narrative is used today with content that is supposed to persuade. Narrative, cause and effect, storytelling, all have “wired” our brains for thousands of years. We are literally wired for story. Narrative lights up the pain/pleasure parts of the brain when lists/features cannot. Is this a “secret” people?? If so, it’s the most obvious secret ever!

Breathe power in to your stories!

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