January 17, 2018

Stories: better than sex?

Give readers a shot of the love drug, oxytocin

We knew stories were more effective than charts, tables, graphs and simple assertions at helping readers remember what they’ve read, use the information and make good decisions based on the information.

Stories: better than sex

I love you, too! Stories — like canoodling — give your brain a hit of oxytocin. Image by India Tupy

That’s according to a 2003 study by University of Oregon professors Judith Hibbard and Ellen Peters.… Read the full article

Concrete material more memorable

Readers see ‘white horse,’ not ‘absolute truth’

Write “juicy hot dog,” and your readers may see a frankfurter nestled in a bun, slathered with mustard and onions. They may even taste it.

Make messages memorable with concrete copy

Hold that thought Concrete phrases like ‘white horse’ are more memorable than abstract ones like ‘basic theory.’ Image by Trevor Paterson

This “dual coding” — where your brain processes not only the words, but the sensory experience of the object the words describe — is one reason concrete copy is so powerful.… Read the full article

Incubation in action

If all else fails, run out of gas

When George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum had worked at the White House for about a week, he got an assignment to write a speech alerting the country that a serious recession was about to begin.

Incubation in action

Fill ’er up! ‘There’s a warning light flashing on the dashboard of our economy,’ wrote a political speechwriter after running out of gas. Image by Evan Kirby

“I just couldn’t think of anything,” Frum told Terry Gross on “Fresh Air.” So the man who put the “axis” in “axis of evil” wasted the afternoon trying one thing after another, then went home, figuring he’d show up early the next day.… Read the full article

3 ways to explore

Tips for foraging from the author of IdeaSpotting

Einstein used to spend 55 minutes exploring for every five minutes he spent coming up with ideas, says Sam Harrison, the author of IdeaSpotting: How to Find Your Next Great Idea.

3 ways to explore

Let’s go! Need an idea? Get out in the world and find one. Image by Amanda Sandlin

Clearly foraging — the feed-your-brain step of the creative process — is essential to inventiveness.… Read the full article

Get to Aha!

Creative process helps you write better, easier and faster

Have you ever come up with a brilliant idea — on the way home from the brainstorming meeting? Developed a creative theme for the annual report while pulling weeds? Written the perfect headline in the shower?

Creative process generates fresh ideas

Colorful results The 5-step creative process helps you produce better ideas, more colorful pieces. Image by rawpixel.com

Welcome to the wonderful world of the creative process, where working sometimes doesn’t look like working, and where sticking with it is often the worst thing you can do to move ahead.… Read the full article

Is it live or is it metaphor?

‘Kick the habit’ lights up the brain’s motor cortex

When your readers kick, the motor cortex in their brains light up. If they read, “the player kicked the ball,” that cortex lights up as if they’re kicking.

Metaphors stimulate the brain

Metaphor … or virtual reality? Your brain doesn’t know whether you’re kicking … or just reading the metaphor ‘kick the habit.’ Image by Brooke Cagle

But what if they read, “The patient kicked the habit”?… Read the full article

Come to your senses

Analogy helps readers experience your story

What does an epilepsy seizure taste like?

Help readers experience your story

More colorful copy Use all your senses to make your messages more creative. Image by Joe Shillington

That’s the question Paul Harding answers in this passage of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Tinkers:

“Howard had epilepsy. His wife, Kathleen … cleared aside chairs and tables and led him to the middle of the kitchen floor. She wrapped a stick of pine in a napkin for him to bite so he would not swallow or chew off his tongue.… Read the full article

A bear’s tale

3 steps to a great story

Facts tell, stories sell.

Craft an anecdote

Tell me a story How can you make the most of your best business stories? Image by Jessica Weiller

But it’s not enough just to have a great story. To make the most of your best business stories, you also need great storytelling.

Fortunately, great storytelling is as easy as 1-2-3.

Here’s how to turn facts that tell into stories that sell, in this rewrite of one of my favorite corporate stories, a piece about FedEx helping rescue a bear named Ben.… Read the full article

Thumbs up

Get The Peer Principle of Persuasion into your next campaign

“What others say about you and your product, service, or business is at least 1,000 times more convincing than what you say, even if you are 2,000 times more eloquent.”
— Dan Kennedy, author of No B.S. Sales Success

Too often, communicators use first-party testimonials. That is, they quote their own VP of product development on how great the new product is.… Read the full article

Write quotes that sound human

Convey personality, passion and a point of view

Too many quotes don’t even sound human. Instead, they clatter in your ear like a computer spit them out.

Write quotes that sound human

Stand out from the crowd Write quotes that sound like a real person said them, not like a computer spit them out. Image by Brooke Cagle

Add personality to your quotes through passion, humanity and colloquialisms.

Make it personal.

When two-thirds of Californians failed every question on a fast food nutrition quiz, the California Center for Public Health Advocacy distributed a release including this sound bite.… Read the full article

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