We don’t just listen to stories, we live them
You might be sitting comfortably, but on a cerebral level, listening to a story really gets your brain going. If you read about someone running away, your motor cortex gets ready to run, too. If you hear about a rich, oozing chocolate pudding, your sensory cortex starts to taste it. And if you visualise doing a new activity for long enough, your brain will begin to shift and change as though you’re actually doing it.
Scientists at Harvard Medical School put this to the test with a piano-playing experiment. Over five days they taught one test group to play simple five-finger piano exercises and practise them daily. They also described playing the same exercises to another test group, and asked them to sit and think about playing (without moving their fingers) for the same amount of time. By the end of the week, the area of the motor cortex needed to play the piano had expanded in the same way in both groups.
This tells us that sometimes classroom theory can be as good as on-the-job practice. The trick is to make that theory as specific, clear and visual as possible. So ditch any abstract language that’s hard to picture: we will leverage user-centric linguistic techniques to optimise click-through rates. And replace it with something that’s easier to visualise: we’ll help you write web links your customers actually want to click on. We can all imagine a person clicking on a web link. Picturing click-through rates is much harder.
But it’s not just the visual side of stories that lodges them in our memories. We need a little bit of mystery, too.