Storytelling and why testimonials work.


The brain works in strange ways, right? You have to repeat a phone number over and over in your head to remember it, but you can recall a funny joke or a news story pretty easily. Why? Because that’s the way the human brain works. 

A list of bullet–points or a rote remembered fact engages parts of your brain called Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. These decode the words into meaning but the brain does very little else with them. 

A story or a joke draws all sorts of other parts of your brain into action. Stories give context to facts and our brains crave context. 

Our brains love context because they remember things by their relationship to other things. Think of those sphincter-puckeringly cringe worthy teambuilding exercises HR do where they get everyone to stand around in a circle and unco-ordinatedly toss koosh balls at each other whilst saying “Greg – grapes”, “Steve – sausages.” 

Bless those well-meaning HR-types! They’ve almost got it. 

Sure, pairing your name with a food gives some context but if the context makes actual sense and it’s joined with other pieces of context, you get narrative. Narrative is what helps the brain store and process information. In fact, we’re so attuned to storytelling as a way of thinking and communicating that 65% of our conversations are personal stories and gossip. 


We’re social creatures, we respond better to things that have people in them. When we hear a story with people in it, our brain produces more oxytocin. This is the neurochemical that people involved in selling anything should love. Oxytocin tells us this person is “safe to approach” and it encourages co-operation and working together. 

So, you can double the power of a story by making it about someone relatable or well known. That’s why personal recommendations and testimonials work – they’re stories about your product from real people.

Take away the features and benefits bullet–points and put in a good case study or testimonial, and you’ll get much more attention.

Humans create awe with humanity: Honesty. Story. Vulnerability. Truth. Humour. And information the audience has not seen or heard before. We create awe by showing people who we are and relaying something deeply personal and very exciting to support our message. It can be about us, the service we provide or the product we offer. But it must be delivered with truth and emotion to even begin to be awesome. The effort you put in to creating awe in the first 90 seconds of your presentation will be the difference between success or failure.  

Stun creates presentations and videos designed to initiate an emotional response from your audience. We aim to get as close to awe as we can. And what our clients will allow us to! 

Get in touch to discuss how we can help you create awe for the next presentation you must win.


This article was taken from our Book of Stun. For more on this and other cool stuff, order your free copy today.