Enhance SEO through the art of storytelling, engaging audiences with authentic and emotional narratives.

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Show Notes

Curious about how storytelling can hold the attention of your audience and make your message truly memorable? Do you wish you were a better storyteller? 

In this episode, our host David Hall sits down with Karen Eber, author, leadership consultant, and keynote speaker, to delve into the art of storytelling and the impact of story on our brains.  You’ll learn about how storytelling can evoke emotions, ignite empathy, and create lasting connections.

Karen shares valuable insights on becoming a better storyteller, emphasizing its profound benefits for introverts. From tips on gathering and preparing stories to understanding the neurological impact of storytelling, this episode offers actionable takeaways that will enhance your storytelling prowess.

Plus, uncover why sharing your stories can be an impactful tool for introverts to connect with others and learn how you can harness their strengths. Join us for an enlightening conversation, embrace the art of storytelling, and be strong.

– – –

Karen Eber is an author, leadership consultant, and keynote speaker. Her TED Talk on how your brain responds to stories continues to inspire millions. Her book, The Perfect Story: How to Tell Stories That Inform, Influence, and Inspire, was selected as a Next Big Ideas Club must-read and published with HarperCollins this October.

As the CEO and Chief Storyteller of Eber Leadership Group, Karen helps Fortune 500 companies like GE and Microsoft build leaders, teams, and culture, one story at a time. She guest lectures at universities including MIT, and Stanford. She is a former Head of Culture, Learning, and Leadership Development at GE and Deloitte and is a frequent contributor to media including Fast Company, Quartz, Entrepreneur, MSN, and Business Insider.

Contact Karen:


Get Karen’s Book:  
The Perfect Story: How to Tell Stories that Inform, Influence and Inspire

LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter

– – –

Contact the Host of the Quiet and Strong Podcast:

David Hall

Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster

david [at] quietandstrong.com

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Time-stamped Overview

00:00 Worked in corporate roles, now helps companies with leadership and storytelling. Wrote “The Perfect Story” book.

05:36 Susan Cain’s “Quiet” helped with self-acceptance, embracing introversion, and understanding others.

09:09 Embracing introversion and empathy as strengths.

11:55 Awareness in leadership: Not everyone fits the same mold; embrace diversity and create space for introverts. Leaders need to evolve and adapt to individual needs.

14:14 Young person at awkward business dinner feels relieved when conversation finally starts.

18:10 Sharing vulnerable stories creates empathy, increases oxytocin, and builds trust. It can help people feel connected and understand each other better.

22:32 Hearing stories creates neural coupling, making the brain activity of the listener similar to the storyteller’s.

25:12 Addressing the need to captivate attention in storytelling by engaging the brain.

28:27 Brain makes subconscious decisions based on past experiences, emotions affect decision-making. Subconscious decisions made before awareness.

33:55 Create a dedicated list of story fragments to prompt ideas. Use it to inspire storytelling for specific scenarios.

37:35 Introverts can use storytelling to gain energy, share unique perspectives, create connection, and deescalate conflict.

39:46 Over 50% of keynote speakers are introverts. Extroverts and introverts approach speaking differently.

44:35 Great storytellers aren’t born, they’re made through practice and adaptability to their audience.

46:36 Thank you for joining. Connect at david@quietandstrong.com. Free Typefinder assessment at quietandstrong.com. Request show topics or guests. Embrace being an introvert.

Key Takeaways from the Episode

– The brain reacts to storytelling, making listeners feel like they’re part of the story

– Storytelling can capture attention by engaging the senses and building tension

– Storytelling impacts decision-making by connecting emotions and can aid in creating trust and credibility

– Introverts can excel in storytelling by being precise with words and using stories to engage listeners and create connections

– Understanding individual needs for creativity and managing energy is crucial for effective communication

Podcast Transcript

David Hall [00:00:00]:

If someone feels like they’re not a great storyteller, can they get better?

Karen Eber [00:00:04]:

100%. 100%. No one is born a great storyteller. You may see people that have some knack for it, or maybe they seem to tell it with ease, but what has probably happened is they’ve figured out what works for them. They’ve noticed where people respond to certain things that they tell stories with. Maybe what’s natural for them is thinking quickly on their feet or putting together ideas in a clever way or using pause so that the story has impact, but No comedian walks on stage and tells an amazing set the 1st time. Same is true for stories. We’ve learned to become great storytellers and there is no such thing as the perfect story.

Karen Eber [00:00:46]:

It’s about taking the stories you have and making them perfect for the audience that you’re telling them to.

David Hall [00:01:02]:

Hello, and welcome to episode 150 of the Quiet and Strong podcast, especially for introverts. I’m your host, David Hall, and the creator of quietandstrong.com. It’s a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced. Normally, we’ll air each episode on a Monday. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform. Leave a review. That would mean a lot to me.

David Hall [00:01:27]:

Tell a friend about the podcast. Help get the word out there that introversion is a beautiful thing. Karen Eber is an author, Leadership consultant and keynote speaker. Her TED Talk on how your brain responds to stories continues to inspire millions. Her book, The How to Tell Stories That Inform, Influence, and Inspire, was selected as the next Big Ideas Club must read And published with Harper Collins this October. As the CEO and chief storyteller of Eber Leadership Group, Karen helps Fortune 500 companies like GE and Microsoft build leaders, teams, and cultures, one story at a time. She guest lectures at universities including MIT and Stanford. She’s a former head of culture, learning, and leadership development at GE and Deloitte and is a frequent contributor to media, including Fast Company, Quartz, Entrepreneur, MSN, and Business Insider.

David Hall [00:02:27]:

Alright. Welcome to the Quiet and Strong podcast, Karen. Karen, it’s so good to have you on today.

Karen Eber [00:02:32]:

I’m so excited to be here.

David Hall [00:02:35]:

Cam, we’re gonna talk about your work and storytelling. I came across some LinkedIn posts that were talking about storytelling and introversion and how introverts Actually can have a great gift for storytelling, so we’re gonna get into that. Tell us about yourself and your journey to becoming a CEO, and I love your title, chief storyteller.

Karen Eber [00:02:54]:

I spent, a career on both sides of the desk, I like to say. So I have worked in Fortune 500 companies like General Electric and Deloitte as a head of culture, a chief learning officer, head of leadership development, always in this place of trying to create Enjoyable, thriving, whatever the right word is, workplaces. And then I went on the other side of the desk as a, a consultant, an author, a speaker, Taking all of those experiences that I had and helping companies build leaders, teams, and culture often 1 story at a time because I feel like and I know we’re gonna talk a lot about this. I feel like storytelling is such an important skill in work and for leaders to establish trust and credibility. I did a talk that ended up on ted.com. That’s about what’s happening in your brain when you are listening to stories And then wrote a book that builds on that and and gets into this premise of it’s not enough to tell a story the way you tell one’s gonna make a difference in the experience. And so I break down the science in a relatable way, but more importantly, help you recognize what do you Actually, do with that when you’re building stories to make it be compelling. So the book is titled The Perfect Story, How to Tell Stories That Inform, Influence, and Inspire.

Karen Eber [00:04:10]:

And it’s a bit of a playful term because the perfect story doesn’t exist like an impulse buy on the counter at a grocery store. It’s something that we actually shape through our, our own experiences. So I love to tell people, especially introverts that are feeling a little hesitant towards Stepping forward and taking the spotlight in the story, don’t wait for the perfect story. Take the stories you have and make them perfect.

David Hall [00:04:36]:

Awesome. Have you always been a storyteller?

Karen Eber [00:04:39]:

I have, but I don’t know that I would have labeled myself that or recognize it. So I am an introvert. I feel like this is the beginning of a joke. Right? To introvert to walk into a Zoom and what happens?

David Hall [00:04:50]:

Yeah. Right.

Karen Eber [00:04:52]:

I feel like I probably always knew that I was an introvert, but I don’t feel like I had the label to understand what that meant until much older in my professional life, but I was always observing things and recognizing what made shifts in different moments or How stories could create a connection in artificial settings or change the energy. And so, I always did it, but I was never The Fozzie Bear Center of Attention going, you know, walker, walker, walker. It was just more in conversations with friends or in certain moments, I would share stories.

David Hall [00:05:27]:

Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about the introversion then. So when did you put a label on it? When did you understand what it was and and embrace it?

Karen Eber [00:05:36]:

I think probably Susan Cain gave so many of us this gift when she put quiet out, when she published quiet, because Maybe we had the label of introversion or introvert, but and had some understanding of it, but I feel like that was the moment where Maybe other people understood it, and that makes it so much easier to be who you are when other people understand and accept that. So I would say that was probably a big, point where maybe I started feeling less ashamed for not being more Shreverented center of attention, able to do things that other people could, wanting to have quiet time to myself and embracing it. Like, I have a a friend when I was at Deloitte, if we came home from a week of travel, I would go straight home and just be quiet and numb and, you know, watch TV, and she would go straight to dinner and a bar and talk to people and socialize. And the thought of that, like, was just unbelievable to me. And I don’t know that I Embrace like there’s nothing wrong with me because I’m choosing something else. I need something else. And there’s nothing wrong with her because she does that. So Sadly, later in life than I wanted of recognizing it, but then even later to embrace.

Karen Eber [00:06:52]:

This is a good thing. It’s not a bad thing.

David Hall [00:06:54]:

Yeah. Yeah. What made you pick up Susan Cain’s book?

Karen Eber [00:06:58]:

The title is really compelling. Right? Quiet is a interest saying, like, what do you mean? And they’re I work in the space of leadership development, and how are we helping people consider different perspectives or embrace a different way of working or become more of who they are. And it was such a great, tool to use to to help leaders understand when they are trying to lead, when they’re running their meetings, how do you think about this different? And so It’s in the sphere of what I do, but there was definitely personal reasons of, like like, everybody, I think, who read it. You were like, I feel seen. Thank you, Susan.

David Hall [00:07:35]:

Yeah, I benefited from the book too, and I highly recommend it. And I’ve had so many guests like yourself say that. I think we’re 10 years now. I think she it was 2013, so Yeah. That’s amazing.

Karen Eber [00:07:46]:

She was the big momentum maker for sure.

David Hall [00:07:48]:

Yeah. Yeah. What would you say is the strength that you have as an introvert?

Karen Eber [00:07:53]:

For me, I definitely do my best thinking when I have that internal reflection in time and have to structure my time and my weeks for that. A big part of my job is putting content out there and keynote speaking. And when I have that time, I feel like I’m able to not only make connections that maybe the average person isn’t making. But my other Part of my background is in this space of, instructional design, adult learning, and performance consulting. How are you connecting people to information they need to be successful? So I feel like because I get a lot of energy from reflection And thinking and putting together ideas, I’m able then to put out things for people in a way that that helps them Either learn something new or connect with something in a way they haven’t considered before.

David Hall [00:08:44]:

And that’s so key. It just like you were saying, you know, you went on a trip with your colleague and And you needed to recharge after. It’s the same thing. How do you need to work? A colleague might not need that same space to really be creative And innovative, but that’s where you thrive. And so that’s what we have to understand is we can’t compare ourselves to somebody else and their methods. We have to find out what works for us, and And that’s amazing.

Karen Eber [00:09:09]:

And that’s a journey of kindness, right? Because you’re naturally going to be comparing yourselves to what people around you are doing because you’re gonna notice, Oh, I don’t do that or that doesn’t work for me, which then the next thought is often, well, gosh, what’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t that work for me. What am I doing wrong? I just have to grit it out and try harder. And none of that’s true. And that to me, I feel like the shift has been as I’ve embraced being an introvert that is a empath and probably a highly sensitive person. Like that’s a whole bunch of combinations that you have to do a lot of care, and protection to show up your best every day. And it probably was about 10 years ago where I realized none of this is a weakness. This is a great thing and nurture that.

David Hall [00:09:53]:

Yeah. And that’s the thing, whether it’s you’re an introvert or a highly sensitive person or empath, there is great gifts that come with all those. But you have to figure out what your needs are too, and they may be different from the person next to you, and that’s where you really shine. So we talk about strengths on the show, and we also talk about needs, and then we bust some myths. Is there a myth about introversion that you wanna dispel today?

Karen Eber [00:10:18]:

It’s probably that there’s any negativeness around this, the shame, the, If you bear with me, I’d love to take you on a story for a few minutes because I’ve been, so I was on a different podcast and the host asked me, You know, work keeps changing. What would the lyrics of 9 to 5 be if Dolly Parton rewrote them for today? And I’m like, what an amazing question. Still reflecting on this, and I hope to write an article about it. But where I went with it is if you think back to, Like, let’s say the 1960s. Right? You’re coming out of World War 2. People are getting jobs. They’re starting to live Whatever the family dream is or whatever the dream is of professional life. And they’re hired into jobs that were sane.

Karen Eber [00:11:02]:

Like 1 manager would tell everybody what to do, and you would just do it. And people weren’t hired because they had really incredibly unique skills. You were trained for the jobs that you had and that started to evolve and continue where you get into the nineties and people are hired for their unique skills. We want the person that has the really specific skill in the dot era because all of these companies are trying to go public and make a ton of money, which meant leadership had to change. We’re now in this moment where I am not here as a leader telling all of you how to do the exact same thing the exact same way. My job is how do I figure out and bring forward the things you do best? And now we’re in this area, era of this is complete individualization. We wanna bring forward everyone’s Strengths and make sure that we are creating the pathway to make that happen. And that means as a leader, Empathy is key.

Karen Eber [00:11:55]:

Awareness is key to recognize you are not going to treat everyone the same way. You cannot assume that everybody is going to be this extroverted thinker in person that can spend their whole day stacked in meetings and be able to come forward and do their best stuff. And I feel like our leadership In many ways is dated because the way we taught leaders for the 1960s, seventies, eighties, you know, hasn’t evolved enough to where we need to be. And so the myth is that, you know, you have to conform to 1 type of employee, 1 type of person, and that Being an introvert shouldn’t be celebrated or, you know, it should be celebrated. It should be a gift that we are able to bring forward and create space for. And if I’m a leader, I’m gonna be thinking about how I do that and how I make sure that you have the space to do the best work that you need to do and Make little shifts that’ll make that happen instead of treating everyone the same way.

David Hall [00:12:56]:

Yeah. That’s very insightful because that definitely Over the years you described it, we weren’t looking for individuals. Like, here’s what has to get done. Here’s the way to do it. To me, it’s just barely where we’re looking at individual strengths. It’s it’s very in the just recent past, and we still have a long ways to go.

Karen Eber [00:13:17]:

Yeah. But isn’t that a great question? If Dolly Parton rewrote 9 to 5, what would that be? It’s an interesting lens to consider. Yeah.

David Hall [00:13:25]:

Definitely. We’re gonna get into your book. Early on in your book, this is related, you talked about, you know, being at an event and you sat down with the table of all introverts and there was some awkwardness And then, you know, story to do it. Yeah. Yeah, please.

Karen Eber [00:13:40]:

Let’s tell it. So, so I am established as an introvert and probably a socially awkward one at that. So I’m in my 1st job. I’m like, you know, 22, 23 years old and find out I have to go to my 1st business dinner. I really don’t wanna go. The whole reason I went this is such an introvert’s thinking. I volunteered to go because I thought if I go now, I get this over with, and I won’t have to go for another year, so I’m just gonna go and get it over with. And I was coming together with people from 2 or 3 different companies, We were trying to see if their companies were gonna work with mine.

Karen Eber [00:14:14]:

So already I’m this young person that’s at my 1st business dinner that’s bracing myself for a sales conversation, which I feel like probably some other people listening will identify with, these types of interactions you kind of brace yourself because you don’t wanna get into this awkward conversation about being pitched. And so all of the ingredients for a terrible dinner and sure enough, that’s what happens. Cause we sit at this table, no one can get the conversation going. We’re looking around the restaurant and all the other tables are lively Laughter, you’re like wishing you were at any of those tables. And the energy at our table was like a helium balloon sinking to the ground on its last day. Like it, we were just miserable. And this 1 person at the table named Aaron clears his throat and he says, so I’m building a deck on the back of my house and we’re all like, Thank goodness. Somebody say something because this is awful.

Karen Eber [00:15:08]:

And, you know, we’re not really expecting a conversation about a deck, but we’ll take it. And he says, so I have to relocate this woodpile to make space for the deck, and I have to to move the that logs over to the edge of the yard. So I have a wheelbarrow, and I’m filling it full of logs, taking it to the edge, come back on my 2nd load. I take a log off the stack and come face to face with a raccoon. But then he gets up and he’s pantomiming, holding his hands up in shock almost like he’s under arrest. The raccoon is in the same pose, which is also hilarious because it has like the bandit mask around its eyes and they’re in a draw. Neither of them know what to do. And he’s describing this moment.

Karen Eber [00:15:47]:

And now we’re at the table laughing as he’s describing this, he slowly backs away. The raccoon scampers off and the energy of the table is completely different. Because now other people start sharing stories about unwanted house guests. And we went from this awkward moment to this moment of connection because the story shifted energy. And what I learned is, you know, a story isn’t just for a presentation or the front of the room or a keynote or for a toast. It can be used in even what feels like the most artificial of situations to create connection and shift energy. And the funniest thing about this is that I took Aaron’s call every time after for years because I felt like here’s someone that was willing to take a risk in an awkward moment to create connection. And now I feel I feel appreciation towards him.

Karen Eber [00:16:39]:

I’m willing to hear what he has to say. I’m not feeling all grossed doubt that I’m gonna get some annoying sales pitch. And so, it was such an important realization to me of, wow, this can really Change a moment in, in the positive.

David Hall [00:16:54]:

Yeah. And you made such a good point there, and I never wanna paint all introverts the same way. Some are very confident and Spoken maybe use stories, but the ones that are still working on their confidence and their relationships, It can be just in the 1 on 1 or small group communications. Very key for presentations and speeches and things, but like you’re saying, it’s in all aspects of our communication.

Karen Eber [00:17:17]:

Yeah. There is, for some introverts, there is this tendency of maybe not speaking as frequently as others. And in fact, there’s research that says that extroverts often speak more words per minute, and introverts use less words, but they’re more precise in their words to create specific meaning. And so just by time, you know, real estate alone, if an extrovert speaking more words per minute, you’re less likely to be sharing and even less likely to be sharing something that has people know you. Right? Maybe you’re great 1 on 1, but not necessarily in a larger setting. And so when you do use stories, there’s this amazing thing that happens where I, as the person listening or reading the story, experience empathy towards you. It’s like my brain says, Wow. He’s taking risk and he’s sharing a story.

Karen Eber [00:18:10]:

He’s being vulnerable, and we respond to vulnerability. And that makes me feel empathy towards the storyteller, which leads to an increase in oxytocin, which is the bonding hormone that you can’t, you know, you can’t manufacture and you can’t command it. It’s only released in these moments where the brain says this person feels safe to be around. I trust them. And so if you are able to find these moments To share stories, people are going to feel like, wow, that had such an impact. Like, I feel like I know them much more than Someone that’s just talking many, many words, saying a lot of things, but not really doing that intentionally. So they can be such a great way if you’re getting this feedback of, we wanna hear from you more, or we wanna know more about you, or I don’t know anything about you. It’s a great way to kind of cut through that, but also not having to reveal anything that feels private.

David Hall [00:19:04]:

Yeah. And we’re never gonna say more words. It’s just I got trained on giving the Myers Briggs, and that was one of the things the facilitator said is, introverts think and then speak and extroverts Speak of that thing. Speak. Yeah. And that’s just how we’re wired. And it’s a good thing because we are thinking of things, and and we’re sharing what we feel is most important, Which is a good thing, but we’re gonna be seen as not saying as much because we’re actually not. But if we can share those stories and share Our ideas and things about ourselves, that’s that’s gonna be key.

David Hall [00:19:38]:

But that’s something I learned, it’s like, okay, well, you can be very confident, But you’re probably never gonna talk as much as your extroverted colleague because they’re talking to think.

Karen Eber [00:19:48]:

Butch by the way is okay because, and none of this is negative against extroverts. I mean, they play an important role in all of this too because they’re going to be prompting ideas and getting, conversation happening and stimulating thinking when they are talking out loud to think, but it’s also a little bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see, is it ready? Does it stick? Because if you take what an introvert says, maybe half of that is gonna be retained. If you are being a little bit more precise with your words as an introvert, still not all of it will be retained, but if you can wrap it in a Story, it’s gonna be like Velcro. It’s gonna be stickier and more memorable and make your words potentially go further.

David Hall [00:20:33]:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. We need introverts, we need extroverts. None of it’s good or bad, it’s just different.

Karen Eber [00:20:38]:

It is.

David Hall [00:20:39]:

And the other thing we need is just understanding all around.

Karen Eber [00:20:42]:


David Hall [00:20:43]:

So you were talking just a little bit about the power of stories and what happens in our brains when we hear stories?

Karen Eber [00:20:50]:

There’s a whole bunch of things. But starting in the most simplest, when we are listening or reading, There’s a small part of our brain called Wernicke’s area. It’s about the size of a walnut above your ear. And it is where language comprehension happens, where you Read or hear a word and your brain simultaneously says, I understand this, check, or I don’t understand this, and you either try to learn it or you just move on. It is truly words in, understanding out, and that’s it. You’re not engaging with it. You’re not engaging any more of the brain. It is just That simple.

Karen Eber [00:21:27]:

So this is what we experience if we are in a meeting and someone’s going line by line through Excel for an hour or even 20 minutes, or, if you went to university and the professor was just droning on, like you probably didn’t remember very much after an hour. And it’s because there’s nothing for the brain to grab onto. When you start telling a story. So if I’m talking to you about, let’s imagine we’re on the beach, so it’s a warm day and we feel the sand between our toes as we’re walking across the the beach And the wind is blowing, our our hair, and you can hear the waves crashing on shore, almost like a cymbal crash. And you can just taste the hint of the salty air on your lips. What starts to happen there is a completely different experience. Of course, you have language comprehension, but now your brain is putting yourself on the beach and you’re feeling the warm sand under your toes as you’re walking across, and you’re experiencing those things. And it’s because Storytelling is artificial reality.

Karen Eber [00:22:32]:

Even if it is something you have never experienced before, the way a good story is told can have you feel like you are in in experiencing it, which makes it so compelling for developing people and thinking about the future because you can give people experiences that they then have a way to respond and not react if they encounter them. So that’s just some basic stuff. A few other things that happen, there’s this term neural coupling. As you listen to a story, your brain lights up in the same activity as the storytellers. They did many different research experiments on this, but one done by Yuri Hassan, who is a professor at, Princeton. He put a patient in the MRI machine, had them listen to a BBC show and took MRI activity of their brain. He took put them back in the MRI machine a 2nd time, had them recount the episode that they saw and also took the MRI of their brain activity. And then for a 3rd time, they put someone new in the MRI and had them listen to a recording of the person recounting the episode.

Karen Eber [00:23:40]:

So you had watched it, retold it, and then heard the retelling. And across the 3 instances, they saw very similar brain activity. And that’s because this artificial reality idea, your brain lets you feel like you were in it. And this is why we watch a horror movie and we start or the anticipation of something is gonna happen. And you feel like you’re in it, or maybe you’re watching James Bond run across rooftops and You are not moving, but you feel your heart rate quicken, or, it’s why we are convinced that Jaws is gonna pop out in a swimming pool. It’s this idea that our brain puts us there. So that’s an introduction to some of the things that are happening. There’s so many more things that take into account of that’s helpful, but but how do you then think about the way you tell a story? And there’s different principles, and I’ll share the first one.

Karen Eber [00:24:35]:

It’s that your brain is lazy. So the brain’s number one goal is to keep you alive. And it wants you to do things the same way you did yesterday, because it worked, you’re alive today. So just keep doing it the same way. Because if you do it different, it’s actually going to cause the brain to spend more calories, force more attention. So the brain is this broker of calories for your body. And there’s a a pile of them that are non negotiables. The ones required to have your body running, have you breathe, have you run all your systems, digest Food, right? Those you need to have.

Karen Eber [00:25:12]:

But then there are the, the bonus fund, right? The extras that go to things like, is this worth my attention? Think about those days that you come home from a long day. You sit on the couch, you are exhausted, and you literally think the words, I don’t wanna thank. So maybe you scroll on social media or you put on Your favorite show that you’ve seen so many times because you don’t wanna think. That’s your brain saying, like, we need to just step back and take a little bit of Break and conserve some calories and do some restoring. And what that means with storytelling is if you aren’t making the brain get out of lazy mode. If you aren’t capturing the attention with maybe a hook or Putting in really specific details or engaging the senses or building the tension in the story, then at any moment, the brain could say, This is a great time for me to go off and daydream. And it’s natural for our brains to take these little breaks. We’re not meant to be fully immersed all day every day.

Karen Eber [00:26:17]:

It’s supposed to ebb and flow throughout the day. That’s very natural, but we have a choice when we’re telling a story of how do we put these things in it that’s going to ensure that the brand says, yeah, this is worth the calorie spend because that Attention is what’s then going to help the brand start to get engaged and make your story be more meaningful.

David Hall [00:26:36]:

And then along those lines, tell us a little bit more about How we make decisions and how stories can impact that.

Karen Eber [00:26:45]:

There is so much research about, You know, we love to think that we are rational beings, that we are making decisions because we have thought logically weighed everything that we’ve Checked all of the reviews, and, like, we know this is the best decision to make, but what the research says is we’re actually making decisions emotionally. And there’s a couple pieces of research that reinforce this. 1 is the neuroscientist, Antonio Dimasio started studying patients that had brain damage to their frontal lobe. So they were fully functioning. They could walk, talk, eat, hold jobs, have relationships. You would never know and look at them that they had this damage with the exception of they could not make decisions. They had this emotionally flat affect. So if I showed them a photo of a a terrible fire or accident, they had no reaction.

Karen Eber [00:27:36]:

And because they had no emotional affect. They were unable to make decisions something like, am I gonna sort my computer files by the name or the date would render them useless because they could not make basic decisions. And what we found in this research is that We are making decisions subconsciously. So as we take in information through our senses, they get stamped with emotions. It’s kind of like If you take a photo on your phone and you swipe up on it, on the bottom of that photo is the date, the location, f Stop the file size. Like, all this information is immediately stamped on the photo without you doing anything. Something similar happens as we’re having experiences. They get stamped with emotions, just like those photos are stamped and they get put in your long term memory.

Karen Eber [00:28:27]:

And so what happens when your brain is going to make Decisions is it goes through this library of files of have we done this before? Is this similar to something we’ve done before? Is this brand new? And in milliseconds, it’s making these decisions to make it’s looking at this to make predictions for how you should respond. So in the case of the patients with brain damage, because they had an emotionally flat affect, they had nothing stamped on these experiences. They weren’t able to make decisions. And what we find over and over is that while we love to think that we’re making them rationally, they are happening subconsciously. There was another piece of research where, again, we put people in an MRI machine, and they were given buttons in both hands, and they had to make a choice between 1, you know, something that was in the right or the left. And they were supposed to verbally acknowledge the moment they knew their decision and press the button. And what they found is that they could see neurons traveling in the direction of the decision that the person was gonna make 7 seconds before they press the button. Like, subconsciously, these things were happening, but at the point they became aware, Many seconds have passed.

Karen Eber [00:29:40]:

So they didn’t even recognize this is happening subconsciously, which is why we think we’re rational beings. But this is why storytelling is so influential in decision making. Because when you hear a story, you connect with it. You, like it or not, imagine your experience of it. You start to picture what would I have done if I came across a raccoon next to a wood pile? Would I have Would I have run? Would I have screened? You naturally have these things that become experiences. They get stored in your long term memory. And so whether you are presenting data or any type of information, sharing a story can connect people to the emotions, which is going to help aid in their decision making. Yeah, absolutely.

Karen Eber [00:30:26]:

So what would you say are the elements of a great story? The first is that it has characters. Characters are often the heart of the stories that that we tell, and these characters Have conflict. These are 2 of the biggest things. The conflict is that part of the story. It’s the fuel. When you run out of conflict, you run out of story. And so conflicts can be between 2 people. It could be between, you know, a person in a circumstance, or even a person in themselves and their own values.

Karen Eber [00:30:58]:

And so what we want in the story is to recognize, have the characters be relatable. Doesn’t mean they’re likable, but we understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, even if we wouldn’t agree with it. And we understand the conflict and what is, there. And then the last is that there are all of these characteristics. There are the senses are engaged. The emotions are there. And so now We not only have the characters, we have the conflict and we have all of those things that’s going to start engaging our brain and helping us be a part of it.

David Hall [00:31:32]:

I’ve been enjoying your book, and it has a great checklist for looking at your stories. Also, it talks about gathering your stories. What are some ways that people can gather their stories and prepare to share them?

Karen Eber [00:31:46]:

What happens when we have a moment to tell a story and we can’t think of what story to tell. It’s because our brain doesn’t know which of these files in our our library of files to access. It’s almost like if I asked you, tell me about your childhood, your brain goes like, wait, what? Like, what what part? Childhood is many years. You know, when I’ve done this live, I’ll do this often in keynotes. The response I’ll get is, well, you know, I grew up in this city in this type of housing with this number of relatives. And it’s very general and not memorable because, like, how do you answer the question? But I then will ask, what sound or smell reminds you of home? And then immediately, there are so many rich stories about Food for holidays or someone told a story about, the song that a loved one used to sing and and, you know, our favorite chocolate cake that was made for birthdays. And so now what we’ve done is we’ve told the brain, no, no, just just focus here. Focus on a sound or a smell from home.

Karen Eber [00:32:54]:

What what comes up? And the more you dig, the more you realize, like, you probably can come up with 15 stories from that alone. And that’s the key to coming up with a list of ideas for stories. 1st is try to do it before you ever have to tell a story, before you even know how You will use it in a story. You wanna put these constraints in place, these prompts, and ask yourself questions about Your professional experiences, you know, and maybe these are the similar types of questions you get in a job interview, but like what was your Best leader, best team, difficult moment. What’s something you were proud of? Personal, you know, the 1st concerts and, vacation adventures. And maybe you had a car breakdown, or Maybe you’ve had something that you’ve been meaning to get rid of, but you just can’t part with. Perhaps you love going to museums or seeing shows, and and there’s something that you notice as you’re experiencing the world. Maybe it’s a podcast or an article or a book.

Karen Eber [00:33:55]:

There’s something that you respond to. What you wanna do is have a dedicated place to make a list of these. When you’re not writing stories, you’re writing down these fragments of ideas without knowing when you’re gonna use it, who you’re gonna use it for, or how you’re gonna use it. But you wanna build this list because what happens is The day that comes that you decide, I wanna tell a story, you’re gonna go to this list and you’re going to say, which one of these will help me Tell a story that will blank. So if I am going to be working with a c suite team that’s having, challenges with trust in conflict, then I would go to my list of stories and I would say, which one of these would help me tell a story about that I could build an idea around trust or around conflict? And I’ll go down the list. And so now you’ve got these fragments of ideas and you can start to think, is there a story here that works? Sometimes there isn’t, but the act of scanning the list gives you a whole new idea that you never would have considered otherwise. So It’s really about putting the constraints in place to make it easier to come up with things, to dig deeper, and to use it to prompt thinking.

David Hall [00:35:03]:

Yeah. And I think just the fact that you captured it is gonna help you remember it. Things happen all the time, but if we don’t capture them, they can lead pretty quickly.

Karen Eber [00:35:12]:

Well, and that’s the piece that’s so important because I am a big thinker when I walk, and I used to get some amazing ideas on walks. I’d be preparing for a keynote or for an article or something. And and I would think like, I’d get an idea. I’m like, oh, that’s so good. Okay. This is gonna be great. I’m gonna remember this at the end of the walk, and then I’d get to the end of the walk and I wouldn’t remember it. And so I’ve learned you wanna have a dedicated place like know where you’re gonna put these whether that’s an app or a checklist or a post it or maybe there’s like a temporary spot that you then move it to later but you don’t want to spend your time trying to remember the idea.

Karen Eber [00:35:49]:

You want to spend your time coming up with 1.

David Hall [00:35:52]:

Yeah, yeah, and that’s really important is to be able to Capture, because I think that is a strength of ours as introverts is we’re thinking all the time. So we have great ideas, but you got to get them in a place, you know, Wherever that is. And, you know, most of us always have our phones, so there should be some way to capture that on our phones Or somewhere, somewhere where we can always access it. So in your LinkedIn post that I found, you talked about how it’s actually an advantage, Introverts have an advantage when it comes to storytelling. Tell us about that.

Karen Eber [00:36:25]:

We talked earlier about how storytelling for introverts can really extend your words. Meaning we already know we’re gonna be a little more precise and not use extra words. And if you wrap it in a story, then the people listening are gonna place themselves in this situation, and they’re going to be creating these long term memories with this experience that maybe they’ve had or haven’t had. So first is recognizing this is such a great way to further your leadership, to establish it and help people recognize stories. Sometimes the best stories come from solitude, from being able to have that internal reflection and thinking. And I mentioned I’m a keynote speaker. People often think keynote speakers are extroverted because when you see someone on stage, they seem very animated and feeding off the energy and giving energy, but that is maybe 10% of the work. Because 90% of the work is coming up with, what do you Say, how do you say it? What’s the way you break that down? And so this is where as an introvert, this can be such a Strength of reflection and thinking things through the solitude is a a piece of what you do.

Karen Eber [00:37:35]:

Use this time to your advantage to take all of these different thoughts that you’re having and put them together in a really compelling way. And what is so wonderful about storytelling It is an exchange of energy. So if part of your introversion reflects and you feel depleted after interactions, You may feel less depleted when you’re sharing stories because you are giving energy, but you are also getting energy back from people as they Recognize it, resonate with it, feel seen. So that’s a piece of this that I think is such a a cool part of being an introvert. I think also we tend to see things that other people don’t necessarily see. So if extroverts are gaining energy from thinking out loud And processing out loud, they’re often noticing a little bit less because they’re in that external external mode whereas in an internal mode you’re noticing and reflecting and thinking about things and so it’s always helpful to bring forward different ideas or Perspectives or considerations that maybe other people haven’t thought about. I think also it’s a You’re in a unique situation when things might be getting tense or difficult or where there’s conflict to use a story to to create connection and rapport, but also to deescalate a little bit because you’re not coming in as the one with the most words. So there’s there’s so many things, you know, I think introverts can also point out the unsung heroes because they are noticing Things that maybe others aren’t.

Karen Eber [00:39:08]:

So there’s a way to celebrate people or even nudge groups on, you know, what they’re being complacent on or should be addressing and are avoiding.

David Hall [00:39:18]:

Yeah, so much there. We can make amazing speakers, but the way we prepare is going to be different. That can also make amazing speeches because we are preparing. We are thinking about our ideas and how we want to share them and the stories we want to share. And so that is another myth that introverts can’t be great speakers or presenters. We absolutely can. It’s just the way we go into it, the way we prepare is is gonna be a little different.

Karen Eber [00:39:46]:

More than 50% of keynote speakers are introverts. Yeah. Exactly. Absolutely is, Not only something you can do, I think there’s some unique angles to it that make us better. I spoke to someone who, he Does keynotes and does no prep. He tries to set it up so that he can just go in in the moment and almost like facilitate a conversation and and just make magic happen in the moment based on whatever people are talking about that day. And for so many introverts, you hear that, and that sounds like the worst possible nightmare. Because 1, how do we make sure people are getting anything out of that? And 2, how do we navigate different points and manage the energy? And so While that works for him as an extrovert, an introvert’s gonna have a really different process.

Karen Eber [00:40:35]:

It’s going to lead to a different outcome, and it’s gonna be amazing and Probably even more impactful because you’re making sure people are getting stuff that they need to hear.

David Hall [00:40:44]:

Yeah. We have our topics that we’re expert in that we may not need to think about. Like, it’s funny. I could actually talk about introversion all day, you know, without Preparing, and you could talk about storytelling. You know, we did do some preparation for this, but, you know, we probably could have done it fine without. But In general, you know, when it comes to that speech or presentation, we do need to really give it some thoughts ahead of time. And we also need to figure out afterward, all right, are we gonna need some downtime? And that’s something else that we have to figure out, or even the beforehand and the after, know, how are you gonna manage your energy around it? So

Karen Eber [00:41:20]:

Yeah. It could be I wanna yeah. I wanna touch on that because I feel like you’re very right. There are things that we can all riff Fun. But so much of the planning for me is exactly that energy of what am I doing beforehand? What am I doing after? When am I around people and when am I, when am I in dull mode? Because I recognize I have to get my energy to a certain place to to not feel deflated on stage, which is not great. And so, I I have to be really protective of that. And so sometimes part of that preparation is very much focusing on how am I managing my energy. And, you know, sometimes with keynotes, you are, with people for a day or or more.

Karen Eber [00:42:05]:

And so it’s then, okay, so when will I build in my restore time? And I don’t leave any of that to chance because to me, it’s almost like this is my game plan that I need to run because now I know, and I know I’ve taken care of my energy, which is gonna take care of me, and so that’s a big piece of it too.

David Hall [00:42:22]:

Yeah. Absolutely. You have to figure it out because you’re gonna be connecting with the people around the keynote speech, but you also need some time, and it’s crucial to plan it ahead of time. And even with this podcast, I make sure I have an hour before so I could be in the right Frame of mind, everything’s working. I give a little more thought to what I would like to talk about, and I am thoroughly enjoying this conversation, But I also plan an hour after if I need to recharge. And that’s the thing about me too. I love giving speeches, you know, so some people might think that Introverts don’t even like it. I I love doing this podcast.

David Hall [00:42:55]:

I love giving presentation speeches, but I gotta know my way to prepare and also my way to recharge.

Karen Eber [00:43:02]:

Yeah. Same. I also had time before we talked, and it wasn’t a nerve thing. It’s just very much getting into that right mode and mindset. You know, I I had someone that kept asking me to come talk to his team like, oh, it’s just 15 minutes. It’s just 30 minutes. I’m like, it’s never just 15 10 minutes or 30 minutes for an introvert. And I can’t explain that if you don’t get it because there’s a mental load that comes with it that is important to to therein.

Karen Eber [00:43:27]:

And so, yeah, for me, that’s a big piece of it.

David Hall [00:43:31]:

I’m glad you brought up the nerves because some people say they always get nervous no matter what. I don’t for the most part anymore, you know, because I’ve learned to know who I am, but I do think ahead of time, that I need to prepare, That I have some valuable things to say. And whereas I used to be terrified to speak earlier on in my life, I don’t get nervous. I don’t get nervous for this podcast. I don’t get nervous to speak in front of a lot of people. And it’s because I know who I am, I know what I have to offer, but I also know the Preparation I need to

Karen Eber [00:44:03]:

do. Yeah. Same. And I also know I can’t be doing certain work before We do this. So I’m not gonna be sitting down and writing an article before I come talk to you because that’s a different pull on energy. And so, Yeah. It’s exactly what you’ve said of, like, figuring out what works best for you and being vigilant about that because otherwise people will just Happily, Jake.

David Hall [00:44:30]:

Alright. 1 more question for you. So if someone feels like they’re not a great storyteller, can they get better?

Karen Eber [00:44:35]:

100%, 100%, no one is born a great storyteller. You may see people that have some knack for it, or maybe they seem to tell it with ease, but what has probably happened is they’ve figured out what works for them. They’ve noticed where people Respond to certain things that they tell stories with. Maybe what’s natural for them is thinking quickly on their feet or putting together ideas in a clever way or using pause so that the story has impact, but no comedian walks on stage and tells an amazing set the first time. Same is true for stories. We’ve learned to become great storytellers, and there is no such thing as the perfect story. It’s about taking the stories you have and making them perfect for the audience that you’re telling them to. And there is a very Logical set of steps you can follow to really make sure the brain is engaged in that, and then you can get to be really creative and play with the artistic side to it.

Karen Eber [00:45:35]:

So If you see someone that looks like they are an amazing storyteller and I can never be that, know that they have gotten better because they Started noticing what works for them, and the same will happen for you.

David Hall [00:45:49]:

Alright. Well said. Karen, this has been a great conversation. Is there anything else that you want To discuss

Karen Eber [00:45:56]:

today? I’m just so delighted to be here and be able to talk about storytelling through the introversion lens, because I feel like It is a quiet advantage that we have and one I hope people love to embrace.

David Hall [00:46:09]:

Absolutely. Okay. So, Karen, where can people find out more about the great work that you do, your book, your TED talk, your articles?

Karen Eber [00:46:16]:

Easiest place is my website. It’s It’s my name, kareneber.com. You can find the book, the TED talk. I’ve got a brain food blog with articles like this Storytelling for introverts on there, it is, a one stop shop.

David Hall [00:46:31]:

Alright. Thanks again for being on. This has been a great conversation.

Karen Eber [00:46:34]:

Thank you for having me.

David Hall [00:46:36]:

Thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to further connecting with you. Reach out at david@quietandstrong.com or check out the quiet and strong.com website, Which includes blog posts, links to social media, and other items. Send me topics or guests you would like to see on the show. If you’re interested in getting to know yourself better, there’s now a free Typefinder personality assessment on the Quiet and Strong website. This free assessment will give you a brief report, including the four letter Myers Briggs code. I’ll add a link to the show notes. There’s so many great things about being an introvert, so we need those to be understood.

David Hall [00:47:14]:

Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be strong.

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