The Power of Storytelling

Framework curated by Meghann Coleman, Director at MindFrame Connect

Since the beginning of time, storytelling has been used as a mechanism for teaching and influencing others. Generation after generation has passed down stories and experiences – both good and bad – in the hopes that those who come after them begin with a better foundation based on this shared knowledge.

But, did you know that good storytelling can actually affect the brain of the listener?

A team of researchers at Princeton University, led by Uri Hasson, discovered that as you hear a story unfold, your brain waves start to synchronize with those of the storyteller. During the study they recorded brain activity when a story was shared and found that the greater the listener's comprehension, the more closely the brain wave patterns mirrored those of the storyteller.

Another study conducted by Paul J. Zak and as shared by Harvard Business Review, found that the degree to which the amount of oxytocin was released by the brain during a story predicted how much people would be willing to help the storyteller. The more compelling the story; the more oxytocin (the neurochemical that indicates safety of others) was released. This created a better feeling of empathy towards the storyteller, but also better recall of the information shared.

How does this translate to mentorship?

To build a strong mentor/mentee relationship, there must be a foundation of trust and connection. Sharing personal stories, failures, and experiences is critical to building an authentic relationship (and proven to signal to the brain that there’s safety in the connection). Stories also help to influence attitudes, emotions, and perspectives – allowing a mentor to guide a mentee without having to provide prescriptive advice.

Storytelling can also be a powerful tool for a mentee to harness. In fact, “strategic storytelling” is one of the most important founder competencies that investors look for when evaluating an entrepreneur. As shared by Permjot Valia, in our most recent video framework, how you communicate to those you hope to engage with is incredibly important. In his words, “visionary storytelling is one of the eight most important traits of a trillion-dollar company.”

The Disney/Pixar Model

How do you begin to develop a winning storytelling formula? One approach is to look at the experts of captivating stories - Disney and Pixar. They have developed an effective formula for bringing an audience along on a journey. This formula can be translated into a framework that can be used in business as follows:

Step 1: Set the stage:
“Once upon a time”

  • Begin by describing how the world is today
  • Set the scene and the origin

Step 2: Explain the pain point: “Until one day”

  • Describe the incident or pain point – the “why”
  • Detail what makes you the person to solve the issue

Step 3: How you solved the problem: “Because of that”

  • Detail how you and your business solved the problem
  • Share the “hero” moment

Step 4: The End: “They lived happily ever after”

  • Share the results and how you achieved success

AIDCA Framework

Another storytelling framework that has a proven model for success is the AIDCA framework:

  • Attention – what will grab someone’s attention?
  • Interest – what is the headline that will garner interest with the individual listening?
  • Desire – how do you create desire in the individual? What is the business model?
  • Credibility – demonstrate credibility; why are you the person to solve it? Why should the mentor support you?
  • Action: come up with the ask; what is the action plan? Where can they help you?

As you get more seasoned in your practice of storytelling, you will develop your own style that is as unique as the stories you share. Remember that a good story captivates a listener through emotive detail, thoughtful descriptions, and vulnerability that allows someone to truly connect with your perspective and experience. Storytelling can be used both as a mentor and entrepreneur to create impact on those around them. In practice, you will quickly find that the more you share with others; the more they’ll want to be a part of your story.

Want to share your story with MindFrame Connect? Email us at and tell us your story – we might feature it in an upcoming video series.


Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication.

Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling. Harvard Business Review

What does AIDCA stand for? LinkedIn

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