3 Reasons Why Storytelling Is Such A Powerful Teaching Tool

For the last 10 years, we’ve had the privilege of speaking with hundreds of thousands of young people from all over Australia and New Zealand. During this time, we have become more and more passionate about improving the way we deliver our message. We continue to strive to increase our reach and grow in our ability to resonate with the hearts and minds of the young people we work with.

Our research-based approach to everything we do has become foundational to our organisation. Another thing that has remained a huge part of everything that we do is the role of storytelling in our seminars.

The impact of storytelling never ceases to amaze me. Whenever I share a powerful story with a roomful of young people, the atmosphere immediately shifts. I often refer to these moments as ‘pin drop moments.’

The room becomes silent.

Every student in the room is completely engaged.

Young people lean in and hang onto every word.

This is why I am such an advocate for incorporating storytelling into both our teaching and parenting toolbox. If you can weave stories into the conversation, it will create lasting change in your child.

Here’s why.

1) Humans Have A Long-Standing History With Storytelling

It can be hard to picture a world where books, videos or the internet weren’t at our fingertips. But humans have lived without these modern-day dependencies for the vast majority of our history.

Without Google search, and long before written language was ever invented, the primary way that humans passed information on from person to person and from generation to generation was through storytelling.

Because of this long-standing historical relationship, storytelling remains one of the most effective and engrained mediums of human communication. Brain activity has been shown to heighten significantly when another person is telling a story. Listening to stories was one of the key ways that we grew to learn about our environment so we could survive and thrive.

2) Stories Are Memorable  

I love this thought by author, speaker and coach Eric Edmeades,

“Emotion is the glue that helps memories stick.” As parents, teachers and educators, it’s important for us to remember that our young people learn in ways beyond thought. The more we are able to engage young people emotionally when delivering our messages, the more memorable they will be.

Have you ever noticed how the moments and the seasons of your life that you remember most vividly are the ones that have a strong emotional charge around them? Great experiences, great friends, falling in love, and even heartache and heartbreak? Emotion is the glue that makes memories stick.

A 2012 Spanish study highlights what happens to our brain activity when we listen to a story. This research reveals that when a story is shared, it not only activates the language processing parts of the listener’s brain, but the brain responds as though the listener themselves has had the experience. It actually activates the part of the brain that would normally be activated if the listener was experiencing the events of the story themselves.

This research highlights the way that stories literally give us a taste of the emotional reality of experiencing the events in the story. This is why storytelling is so powerful. This is why storytelling has the capacity to invoke such emotion and empathy. This is why stories can be so memorable.

3) Stories Introduce Us To Role Models Who Inspire Us

Have you ever been facing a struggle or a challenge in your life that caused you to question yourself, but then remembered the story of how someone in a similar situation successfully overcame it? Did this inspire you to keep going? Did it give you hope when there seemed to be none? Have you ever been unsure of how to behave in a certain situation, but remembered the example of how a role model upheld and stayed true to their values, even when they were tested?

A great story with a great role model inspires us. 

It gives us examples to emulate. 

It sets a standard for us to live up to. 

Humans learn through observation. This is why sharing stories about the heroes, the overcomers and the aspirers, is such a powerful way of helping pave the way to positive living.

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As parents, teachers or educators who want to truly reach, inspire and empower young people in your world, I encourage you to harness the power of storytelling to communicate your message.

The story you share might just be one that sticks with your young listener, for life.



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