Book Review: Storytelling Edge by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow

At a recent conference I was attending I was given The Storytelling Edge written by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow. This book is a highly engaging read on the power and necessity for businesses to use storytelling in their messages. The essential premise of the book is that customers remember and connect with the stories that people and businesses tell more than any other message.

According to the research gathered by Lazauskas and Snow, our brains are built to connect to stories for so many reasons.

  • Stories generate empathy
    • Scientists monitored the brains of subjects as they watched a James Bond movie and they were able to see the heart rates of the audience rise during tense parts of the movie.
  • Stories bring us together
    • Americans are patriotic and love their country over a shared history of the founding of the country which was transmitted in a story format. Events like the Boston Tea Party and surprise attacks on the British – which are stories –  bring us together.
  • Stories are memorable
    • In a research study it was discovered that the most popular Super Bowl commercials were not the funniest or the wittiest, but the ones with best story. Years later people can recall the story more than they remember the jokes.

The authors built out a compelling playbook on how businesses can go about telling better stories which consists of creating a relatable narrative, making new and adding in an element of tension.

There’s an extremely helpful checklist on how to analyze stories towards the end of the book.  The authors believe that 15 seconds is the bare minimum anyone should spend reading the story and readers should be getting through at least 25% of the full story.

The book closes with directives on how to build storytelling into a habit by building a culture of storytelling within an organization. They use the example of Marriott’s blog written by the founder Bill Marriott where the storytelling culture was driven at the highest level.

In short, if you want to increase your marketing abilities and storytelling habits, the Storytelling Edge is a book you are going to want to read right away.