Surprise! The Secret Ingredient to Viral Stories

Storytelling is powerful. But there’s one ingredient that turns a good story into one so memorable you’ll want to tell others.

That secret ingredient is…surprise! Watch this video to see how surprise turns a lovely story, told through dance, into something that jars your soul.

Why does surprise work? Brain scientists believe it’s a survival instinct to see what’s happening around us and predict what is likely to happen next. We see the sleeping tiger, we see the dry twigs around us, and we predict that if we try to walk across this ground the twigs will snap, the tiger will wake and we’ll be dinner. Predicting what will happen next is as natural and automatic as breathing, blinking or cheating on your taxes.

When our predictions turn out to be wrong, our brains are suddenly on red alert. We want to learn this new pattern which might keep us safe in the future, and share it with others. Like the last time you got out of that speeding ticket by flashing a smile (and a little cleavage) at the nice officer. But it didn’t work with the next officer who pulled you over. Boy she had some attitude.

Set up your audience to expect one thing, then deliver something unexpected. They will remember it and tell others. They can’t help it; it’s how we’re wired. 

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the new language of business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

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2 Responses to Surprise! The Secret Ingredient to Viral Stories

  1. Hmm, I thought it was puzzling, and didn’t see the surprise. That he chose to leave her after wanting her? That she turned from white to brown? I guess I didn’t get it.

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