Why Stories Matter


Why Stories Matter

Dec 09, 2015By Voltaire Santos Miran

My institution needs to be better at telling our stories.”

— Everyone

We hear this all the time, and it’s true. As individuals, as communities, and as organizations, we could all be better at articulating who we are, what we’ve experienced, and why it matters.

The meaning behind “we need to tell our stories better” is different for each institution. For some, the barriers are technical. For others, the issues revolve around staffing and skill, or clarity or ownership of messages, or a true understanding of and empathy for their audiences. Sorting through issues of who, what, where, when, and how is significant and important work.

But first, the fundamental question, “why?” Why do we need to tell better stories? Why does it matter? Is it just about a good narrative that keeps us engaged until the bottom of the page or the end of the video?

Jonathan Gottschall, in his book “The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human,” considers the neuroscientific, psychological, and sociological factors that ignite the magic of storytelling. His book outlines six specific ways in which stories make a deep and meaningful impact on us:

  1. Stories educate us.
  2. Stories teach us to solve problems.
  3. Stories provide pleasure and emotional release.
  4. Stories assimilate us into our culture and community and bind us together socially.
  5. Stories provide pattern and order to our lives.
  6. Stories connect us to each other and encourage empathy.

In essence, “The human mind was shaped for story, so that it could be shaped by story.”

Our recently published Mythbusting Admissions report, a joint research project with Chegg, reveals that print is still the best way to capture a prospect’s attention initially. Further, an institution’s website remains the most important and trusted source of information throughout the admission process. Finally, students are both market-savvy and inundated with materials — reaching them, getting their attention, and igniting their curiosity is harder than ever. That’s why the stories matter. Stories connect those students with the people and the institution in ways that facts, figures, and similar content simply can’t.

Over the course of the next year, our team is going to cover multiple aspects of storytelling through interactive webinars, workshops, white papers, and case studies. Our goal is to help you harness the power, purpose, and relevance of storytelling for your education institution.

Join our digital storytelling mailing list for updates and opportunities for participation.

  • Voltaire Santos Miran Chief Executive Officer, Head of Client Experience I've developed and implemented communication strategies in education for more than 20 years now. I think my team at mStoner is the smartest, funniest, and coolest group of colleagues ever, and I can't imagine being anywhere else. Except Barcelona. Or Paris. Or Istanbul. To quote Isak Dinesen, "the cure for everything is salt ... tears, sweat, and the sea."