The Storytelling Edge Book Summary - The Storytelling Edge Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Storytelling Edge summary

Shane Snow and Joe Lazauskas

How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming into the Void, and Make People Love You

4.4 (306 ratings)
20 mins
Table of Contents

    The Storytelling Edge
    Summary of 6 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 6

    The human brain is wired to find stories more engaging and memorable than simple statements. 

    Many years ago, a French poet named Jacques Prévert happened to meet a blind beggar in the street. Jacques asked him how things were going. Bad, the beggar replied – he hadn’t heard a single coin land in his hat all day. Jacques, a poor writer, didn’t have cash to spare, but he offered to rewrite the sign that explained the beggar’s situation. Two weeks later, the men met again. Things had improved. Folks were generous these days, the beggar said, and his hat was always full. 

    So what did Jacques write on the beggar’s sign? “Spring is coming, but I won’t see it.” Why did this help make people more generous toward the beggar? 

    The answer is also the key message in this blink: The human brain is wired to find stories more engaging and memorable than simple statements. 

    Imagine a high school health class. The teacher cites statistics about drug-related deaths and concludes that drugs are dangerous. Next door, his colleague takes a different approach. She puts up a slide of a handsome teenager and introduces the class to Johnny. He was a good kid, she says, but he had problems at home and started taking drugs to make himself feel better. She then shows an image of a sickly looking man with missing teeth – it’s Johnny ten years later. Drugs, she concludes, are dangerous.

    Which class is more memorable? The second one, right? Here’s why. 

    Neuroscientists have a saying that “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” What they mean is that when multiple parts of the brain are working together, we’re much more likely to remember due to that cognitive work. 

    Logical statements like “drugs are dangerous,” for example, engage just two parts of the brain – those responsible for language processing and comprehension. When we hear stories, by contrast, our brains light up like switchboards. Suddenly, we’re also processing emotions and images, imagining sensations, and using the part of the brain that’s responsible for cognitive planning. 

    Now think back to our high school example. In the first class, students processed abstract statements and numbers – tasks the human brain can complete without breaking a sweat but often struggles to recall. In the second class, though, students were giving their gray cells a real workout. They were busy picturing the details of Johnny’s life, wondering how his problems compared to their own, and asking themselves whether they would also take drugs if they were in his shoes.

    This barrage of neurons makes the second lesson much more “sticky.” Whatever their choices, these students will likely think back to poor Johnny if they’re ever offered drugs. 

    Want to see all full key ideas from The Storytelling Edge?

    Key ideas in The Storytelling Edge

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Storytelling Edge about?

    The Storytelling Edge (2018) is a study of communication by two content strategists who’ve taken an old Native American proverb to heart – “those who tell the stories run the world.” As Shane Snow and Joe Lazauskas assert, it doesn’t much matter if you’re an individual, a business, or a government: if you want to thrive in today’s world, you need to be able to tell your story as convincingly and fluently as possible.

    Best quote from The Storytelling Edge

    When we get information through stories, we engage more neurons. As a result, the story is wired into our memory much more reliably. 

    —Shane Snow and Joe Lazauskas
    example alt text

    Who should read The Storytelling Edge?

    • Marketing and advertising pros   
    • Brand managers and copywriters
    • Entrepreneurs looking for new ideas

    About the Author

    Joe Lazauskas is the director of content strategy and editor-in-chief of Contently, a global tech company that helps Fortune 500 companies create compelling stories. Contently was founded by Lazauskas’ co-author, Shane Snow. Both are trained wordsmiths with backgrounds in journalism.


    © Shane Snow and Joe Lazauskas: The Storytelling Edge copyright 2018, John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used by permission of John Wiley & Sons Inc. and shall not be made available to any unauthorized third parties.

    Categories with The Storytelling Edge

    Books like The Storytelling Edge

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    28 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial