Keep it simple

Stories stick when they are simple and teach us something profound. Think proverb: bite-sized chunks of wisdom.

Be specific


Test the specifics

Get a timer and a pen.

Name as many green objects as you can in 15 seconds.

Now do the task again but this time name as many green objects as you can in your fridge in 15 seconds.

Did you get more green objects the second time?

Being specific and using visuals makes it easier for our minds to remember.

Focus on the individual

If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one I will
Mother Teresa

When it comes to our hearts one individual beats the overwhelming masses. Remember Obama, he never spoke about the millions; he spoke about one grandparent and one child in his keynote speech.


Make your statistics more human to demonstrate a relationship.

For example: If you say Texas is 695,662 km² in size; my face will do this:

Blue blob with confused face

If you say Texas is so big, it can fit ten European countries inside it with room to spare; my face will do this:

Blue blob shocked face

Cold hard numbers overwhelm most of us and make it difficult for us to relate. It shifts our thinking to the analytical rather than the emotional. Analytical thinking is not the best source of thinking for encouraging empathy.

Don’t use tired concepts

If everyone drove a yellow car, yellow cars would not stick out. People tend to over use any phrase that delivers an emotional kick. When that happens it doesn’t kick anymore; it drags.


Language matters. Too many stories in the change making world are dry, privileged gobbledegunk, that most of us do not understand. Communicate your message so we can care.