Manner of Speaking

Powerful “Stories of Unlimited”

This morning, I was rereading the chapter on storytelling in one of my favourite books, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Health. (To see the seven-part series that I wrote on the book, you can find all the posts here.)

Our brains are wired for stories. Stories add meaning; stories contain wisdom; stories are effective teaching tools; stories are memorable. As the Heaths write:

Stories illustrate causal relationships that people hadn’t recognized before and highlight unexpected, resourceful ways in which people have solved problems. …

The story’s power, then, is twofold: It provides simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act). Note that both benefits—simulation and inspiration—are geared to generating action. [W]e’ve seen that a credible idea makes people believe. An emotional idea makes people care. [T]he right stories make people act.

By coincidence, I also came across a brilliant advertising campaign by Western Sydney University called “Stories of Unlimited“. It features 90-second videos of alumni and shares the stories of their background, challenges, passions and current status. Each video is beautifully crafted and inspirational. The university’s messages to prospective students:

“We believe in a world of unlimited opportunity for those with talent, drive, confidence and ambition. It’s about what’s inside you, not where you’ve come from. Your future success starts here.

Kudos to Western Sydney University for tapping into the power of stories to encourage prospective students to apply. What stories can you tap into for your next presentation?

For now, please enjoy the following three “stories of unlimited”.