The Science Behind Storytelling at Events

Brittany Chaffee

24 January 2020

teemu-paananen-bzdhc5b3Bxs-unsplashPhoto by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash

Cool fact for the day: according to a Google Trends report, “content marketing” leads the buzzword race. In fact, the conversation around content marketing has shot up past inbound marketing, marketing automation, conversational marketing and account-based marketing since 2010, particularly spiking in 2016.

So, what are those measurements telling us?

Storytelling is the thing. Sharing our values and what we believe in connects people at another level. Instead of selling an idea, we share the idea. We develop stories built on passion and values. That's the win-all.

Think about this. How has your brand evoked change? How does your brand speak with people in conversation? It's key to humanize these pieces and make the story relatable. Stories are bread and butter of effective marketing. People have been telling stories since the days of the caveman!

If events are a big component within your marketing strategy this year, we’re here for you. Events are a wonderful activation to build leads and make valuable connections within core audiences. Using storytelling at your event is one of the most effective communication tools you can employ. Success is all about emotion and connection. So, how will your brand build the storytelling-blocks to launch into the New Year? Read on. It's allllllll science, folks.

Step 1: Know Your Brand Story

Every brand has a big, beautiful story to tell. And when it comes down to it, emotion is the most powerful way to grab the attention of your audience. It starts with values and beliefs. What are the values and beliefs of your brand? If your brand were a person, what would they be like? When you build these core elements, you're better able to attract like-minded individuals. Values and brand personality should be expressed in keynote speeches and throughout all messaging during an event.

Step 2: Build the Emotional Narrative

This is where the science comes in. According to the George Lucas Educational Foundation, the narrative model has been proven to aid in recall. Delivering content through a story has positive effects on students’ information retention. Think about kids. They love reading the same books over and over when they’re little. Why? Because the story establishes supportive conditions in the brain for learning and remembering. The familiar feelings we get when we hear a narrative becomes a strong memory-holding template. Stories are comforting.

Also, stories that are positive and express shared values offer a dopamine-reward response. As we listen to stories and make assumptions, if we’re correct about them, we feel good. When we’re kids, stories reflect a positive experience and as adults, we constantly search for those kinds of stories in our lives. Stories make us feel cared for, positive, and pleased.

Telling stories at events, no matter the format, strikes emotion. Emotion is the draw. It’s what gets our attention. It’s what makes us listen. Next, the dialogue and facts are offered, along with the narrative, and we remember. It’s the memory recall that connects people to brands.

The entire story should live within handouts and all messaging throughout the event. Use sensory elements throughout to trigger emotion, like product samples – smells and sounds.


The "Storytelling Flywheel" explains the process behind capturing an audience's attention through the core of emotion, keeping them engaged with a detailed narrative, and providing them with the facts and figures to benefit the brand. All of these elements of story, stick with the memory.

Step 3: Utilize the Event as a Medium of Truth

An event is like a good book cover. It truly catches the attention of a bustling audience and becomes a memorable opportunity for brands. People will approach the brand that shares their story quickly, efficiently, and differently – and that most relates to their values and concerns. To ensure all of the good stuff is happening, be sure to ask these questions as you’re planning:

  • Where will your event be launched? What is the space like? How can you create moments and assets to reflect that space best?
  • What is the “True Purpose” of the event? Define your Why.
  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • Who are your attendees and what is their why?
    • What makes your audience truly ticked off?
    • What are they afraid of?
    • What do they dream of?
  • What are your future ambitions? Where can this event take you?

All of these core elements should be considered while you’re building the story surrounding your event. Especially when it comes to the subject of your event message. When you have all of these questions’ answered, your event is the solve-all. It’s the solution. It’s the story you tell.

Your event is the audiences’ truth.

Step 4: Share That Story Everywhere

To truly resonate with your audience, the event isn’t the only place that should reflect your “why.” Shout this message from the mountain tops! Across fields and planes and rivers! When someone walks away from your event and goes to your website, is the story reflected there as well? When they receive your newsletter, does it follow-up on the event and continue the conversation? Driving the story after the event is over continues to drive value.

Have questions about what we do at STAR? Want to talk experiential marketing? We're happy to chat. Contact us here.



Brittany Chaffee



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