Is Storytelling Really As Powerful As We Think?

Storytelling is a very important part of modern communication, especially with the availability of tools and technology that make it easier to design, tell and share stories.

You will often hear communication experts talk about the power of stories to touch the heart and change the world, but storytelling expert Sisonke Msimang – from the Centre for Stories – offers a different perspective. In her TED Talk, “If a story moves you, act on it”, she warns us that stories aren’t always as powerful as we might think.

She says:

“It’s not uncommon to hear people say that stories make the world a better place. Increasingly, though, I worry that even the most poignant stories … can often get in the way of action towards social justice.”

She presents three reasons:

  • Stories can create an illusion of solidarity, but just listening to a story doesn’t accomplish anything.
  • We are drawn towards characters and protagonists who are likable – but that also means we’re less attracted to characters we don’t like, and they are often the people with the most important messages.
  • We can get so invested in the personal narratives that we forget to look at the bigger picture.

Watch the full humorous and thought-provoking TED Talk here:

What Next?

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