Why do we fuss over taking names of characters in Storytelling ?

If the question is, why must I say  Maria who is a business development manager for an IT firm was finding it hard to work with the increasing client demands

and why can’t I say Business development Managers of IT firms are challenged with customer demands because the reality is that its not just Maria, its all of the Business Development Managers who are challenged.

Yes, true all of them are challenged but still taking a name like Maria is better than saying Business Development managers.

Let’s try to understand why this by answering a quiz.

Read the following two paragraphs and see which is more likely to tug at your heartstrings:

A) Food shortages in Malawi are affecting more than three million children. In Zambia, severe rainfall deficits have resulted in a 42% drop in maize production from 2000. As a result, an estimated three million Zambians face hunger. Four million Angolans — one-third of the population — have been forced to flee their homes. More than 11 million people in Ethiopia need immediate food assistance.


B) Any money that you donate will go to Rokia, a seven-year-old girl who lives in Mali in Africa. Rokia is desperately poor and faces a threat of severe hunger, even starvation. Her life will be changed for the better as a result of your financial gift. With your support, and the support of other caring sponsors, Save the Children will work with Rokia’s family and other members of the community to help feed and educate her, and provide her with basic medical care.

If your answer is B you are like most people and the reason you choose B is because there is an identifiable victim 

These findings are from research conducted by Deborah Small a Wharton marketing professor, and her colleagues.

People donate because they want to make a difference and if they are unable to see themselves making a difference because their contribution is like a drop in the ocean they would rather not do it

Telling people about all IT firms’ Managers seems like a problem I can’t do much about but I may be able to do something about Maria because she is an identifiable victim. 

Hearing a name leads to us being able to make a difference to a problem that exists, versus it coming across as a problem that is too generic and hard to solve.

When it comes to our hearts,

one individual trumps the masses 

– Made to Stick; Chip& Dan Heath

So, if you get asked, what’s in the name? Your answer should be, its ability to inspire a desired action and that is why taking names of characters in storytelling matters.

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Why the QR Code? The answer is in the request below we received from a regular blog reader.

"I attended your story telling course some time back. And I've enjoyed keeping up my knowledge with your blog. You may not have realised however, that the Whole of Government is implementing Internet Seperation. Hence I'm not able to access the links to read your articles. Could I suggest including a QR code in your emails so that I can use my mobile to scan it and gain immediate access to the article? It would be most helpful"