In a previous post, we talked about tapping into the Brain CODE. This enables you to develop a quicker and deeper connection with your audience. If you missed that post, you can read it if you click here.

Now it’s time to take a deeper dive into the CODE. Let’s take a look at the C – Cortisol. This is the neurotransmitter released into the body when you feel stress.

Why Create Stress In Your Listeners?

How can stress create a quicker and deeper bond with people?

Excellent question.

The answer lies in the purpose of storytelling — to create a connection with your listener.

Connection occurs when you trigger emotions in them.

Emotions begin when your main character experiences conflict.

This is the point when listeners become more interested in your narrative.

It’s also the point when their body releases cortisol in reaction to the stress in the story.

This is good stress. It’s the emotional hook that creates curiosity and keeps peoples interest.

See For Yourself

To give you a sense of how this works, here is part of an opening from one of my signature stories:

I’m sitting in my boss’s office. It feels like a scene from an old horror movie. You can hear the rain pelting the window and an occasional clasp of thunder.

We’re talking about my quarterly performance numbers. I’m a certified financial planner, and I’m expecting this to be our typical 30 minute review. Then I’ll go about my day.

Joe, my boss, pulls out a stack of papers. He waves them back-and-forth.  He says, “These are evaluations from the last two retirement planning workshops you presented.”

I’m thinking, “OK, I did a pretty good job on those.”

He says, “Michael, I’ll cut to the chase. You’re a lousy speaker. And your stories suck!”

I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. All I can think is, “What?”

When you read what my boss said to me, did you have an emotional reaction?

When I share this this story with audiences, I can see and feel their reaction. My boss’s words create conflict in the story.

Until he said them, were are you riveted by the narrative?


Everything until that point helps you create a mental movie and set you up for the unexpected.

His insulting words trigger the cortisol in my listeners. They now feel stress.  I’ve created an uncomfortable scene and triggered questions they want answered:

What was Michael’s response?

Did they have a fight?

Did Michael quit?

Was he fired?

The audience’s cortisol levels will remain elevated until their questions are answered. The purpose of the rest of the story is to do that.

Your takeaway for today is:

Don’t fear creating stress in your audience. When you do, you have their full attention and they want to hear more of what you have to say.


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Why Stress Helps Your Story – And Is Good For Your Audience ultima modifica: 2022-11-20T20:08:23-05:00 da Michael Davis