Often a group that tells an authentic story that resonates with the people will win the day over opponents who want to persuade us with logic and reason.
I would like to share with you the example of an organization called “charity: water”. The group’s purpose is noble, clear and straightforward: As their mission statement declares, “charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.”
Though their cause and their approach were laudable from the outset, they were not immediately successful at convincing individuals to contribute. To understand one of the reasons why, I would propose watching and comparing two videos.
The first video is well done, spelling out the problem with insightful and persuasive arguments. Unfortunately, though, this video had only limited success in raising money from the public.
The second video was far more successful at generating both interest in the organizations and financial donations. As you watch it, think about the differences with the first one, and why it may have more impact on the people who watch it.
Why was the second video so much more effective? To me, with my long background studying the storytelling phenomenon, the answer is clear. The first video touches people in their heads, appealing to their logical brain. In contrast, the second video tells a story, one that touches people in their hearts and their imaginations.
The first video asks people to THINK about the problem; the second video asks people to FEEL the problem, to make it their own. When we watch the second video, we empathize; we imagine ourselves in the story. We wonder what it would feel like if we–and our families–had no access to clean water in our daily lives. What if we had to drink the water we watch the actress in the video serve to her children? And with that thought, many of us will wonder how we can help others access water more easily.
This all may seem overly simplistic, but I see it as an important distinction that can often be transformational for a brand or an organization. Outsiders will engage with us for emotional reason rather than rational ones. They will want to help not when we explain the problem but when we let them feel it. And, the best way to touch the emotions of other human beings—to get them to truly FEEL our message—is with an effective narrative.
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