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Effective Anecdotes

Until recently, I kind of hated anecdotes. I thought they were irrelevant stories people used in place of facts to prove a point. This isn’t how effective anecdotes are used. Effective anecdotes are used to make people care, not serve as the facts themselves. Our experience is what makes ordinary ideas different. People like the human aspect of things, because it connects the ideas to their reality. Effective communication will always answer the question “why should I care?” If you are telling someone something they’re not already interested in, that question translates to “how is this relevant to me?” This is where the anecdote would prove relevancy, not fact. In the second grade, I distinctly remember two music teachers who were trying to teach us to read music. One told us how to read music and had us sing. The other lined the floor with tape in the shape of a giant musical staff and had us throw bean bags onto the lines and spaces of the staff. Wherever the bean bag landed, you had to say what musical note that was, and if correct, you got a point. Which teacher was more effective? The one that made learning relevant. The stories that stick are ones that make you care and are powerful tools of communication.

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