I recently sat down with storytelling expert Anthony ‘Tas’ Tasgal for a wide-ranging conversation about the power of storytelling. We could have talked forever about the history and science of narratives, but as a content creator, I know the value of keeping it simple.

Headshots of Sabrina Stubbs and Anthony Tasgal

A serial author, Tas now has 4 works published. His most recent piece “The Storytelling Workbook”, a practical guide to working the power of storytelling into everything from sales pitches to dating profiles, is available now.

Tas has carved himself out an impressive career, training and lecturing using his understanding of storytelling and the potential a well-spun yarn holds for businesses. He has worked with a range of household names, from Microsoft to the Royal Albert Hall; Destination New South Wales, to University of Glasgow.

Here are 3 of my favorite talking points from our conversation:

📨 Avoid the ‘Attention Spam’ inbox

An area of agreement between Turtl, myself, and Tas is that competition for attention has never been fiercer. It’s estimated that the average consumer sees somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 marketing communications every day. But how many do we actually remember?

This barrage, along with good fortune and fat-fingers, is what led Tas to Coin the phrase ‘Attention Spam’:

“I was trying to type the phrase ‘attention span’. But if you look at your keyboard, you’ll see the letters ‘n’ and ‘m’ are next to each other, and I accidentally typed ‘attention spam’! And I thought, oh, that’s quite good. I quite like that.”

“We tend to think that whatever we say has an inherent importance to it, and that people will just lap it up. We think we’re sending communications from our attention inbox, into your attention inbox. But the reality is that 90% of that goes into what I now call attention spam.”

“So your first task is to realize that you may just be just adding to people’s attention spam, as opposed to creating something they genuinely want to see, or feel, or get involved with.”

Realizing this is the first step you can take towards preventing readers from overlooking your content. After this, try steps such as adding authenticity to your content.

🪡 Power in the Golden Thread

A lot of our conversation centered on ancient mythology and philosophy. These ancient concepts, fables, and stories have withstood the test of time, and that alone should make them good indicators of the power of good storytelling!

And mythology also happens to be where the idea of the golden thread comes from. Theseus navigated his way back out of the labyrinth after defeating the minotaur using a golden thread.

Today, we as businesses use the golden thread concept to ensure that our efforts stay directly connected to our goals.

But for Tas, ‘golden thread’ has a dual meaning:

“For me, it’s one of the key ways that stories work. Storytellers create a path through the labyrinth.”

“When all you have is details and facts, these often aren’t compatible with how the brain works. In a lot of cases, we bombard people with pure facts. But the brain needs a thread to guide itself through it all.”

“In this digital marketing and digital content case, the maze is all the facts and the details, the data. So it’s the storyteller’s role to create a path through the maze to guide the reader.”

Where content is concerned, never assume the conclusion is obvious. You know where you’re ultimately aiming to lead your reader, but they don’t. Use your research, data, and numbers as landmarks along the way, but don’t confuse them with the destination.

stock image of needle and thread

🧠 Good storytelling is chemical

Building on these thoughts around data and information, our conversation launched deeper into the divergence between storytelling and pure information. I asked why it is that marketers could have mountains of data backing them up, but might still struggle to get noticed?

“The great names in the advertising world understood that it isn’t just about finding a lowest common denominator, rationalizing a product’s existence, and then just throwing it out there. You have to be much more subtle, much more emotional about it.” 

“Paul Zak, who’s a neuroscientist, talks about the power of oxytocin (the hormone that plays a role in creating the human desire for social bonding). He acknowledges that storytelling generates oxytocin, and that makes us bond with people that are telling us a story. So it’s it is something that seems to be literally part of our body chemistry.”

When harnessed in the right way, this hormone can be used to ensure that your B2B communications inspire brand loyalty and capture repeat customers.

Positively affecting the way your audience feels as they view your content is one of the most influential steps you can take toward making better content. Choosing the best format to showcase your findings and tell your stories can make a huge difference in how your content performs.

Want to know how powerful storytelling can help your business? Take a deeper dive into the power of stories (including more on our brains’ chemical response to storytelling).

Check out Turtl’s Unraveling the Power of Stories Doc below ⤵

Click to read Unraveling the power of stories with Nick Mason | Turtl

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