Tell a better story for fundraising

Is this the way to make the story in your fundraising appeal more memorable and more impactful?

Tell it in the present tense.

Most of the time, stories are in the past tense. This happened, then that happened, then this happened. But there’s research to suggest that stories in the present tense pack a lot of punch and leave an impression on the listener. And that’s because researchers found neural coupling between the storyteller and the listener in a story that’s told in the present tense.

Granted, this research involved verbal communication, so it may not be directly applicable to written words. But still, it is interesting.

The researchers wired up the brains of the storyteller and the listener. And when the story was told in the present tense, similar parts of both brains were lighting up. This could mean that the storyteller and the listener are more in sync.

Partially this could be because a story in the present tense is more likely to be judged by the brain receiving it as an emotionally charged event. Which means that the person hearing the story gets a shot of the brain chemical dopamine. Which makes the whole experience for the listener more impactful and more memorable.

That’s the theory, anyway, and when you think about it, it does make sense. A story seems more immediate in the present tense. Which means that you’re listener is going to be more, well, present and more likely to stay with you for the whole story and what follows. Like the call to action.

Naturally, nothing has been conclusively proven in this research. Communication is far too complex for almost anything to be conclusively proven. But it is something that could be worth trying and testing.

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