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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsMADELINE PATERSON: Today, I'm with Steve Killick. Steve is a psychologist and a storyteller. Tell us a bit more about yourself, Steve.

Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsSTEVE KILLICK: Well, I work as a psychologist in health and education. And I'm using stories as a way of helping people understand themselves, understand relationships a little bit better. And part of my research is looking at how storytelling is not just an activity for very young children that's a bit of fun, but it's actually a very meaningful activity that we all engage in. We all want to hear each other's stories. And we want somebody to listen to our stories, as well. So it's a very fundamental human aspect of communication. I think businesses and organisations are using stories more and more, because they engage people, and they engage them on an emotional level.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 secondsWe've been telling stories for hundreds and thousands of years. They're one of the ways we communicate with each other. We can tell what's happened to us. We can make things up. We can exercise our imagination. Often if you ask what makes a good story, it's usually about somebody who's got a problem in some way, some kind of challenge. And it's something that has to be overcome. And a story is an emotional workout. There's always lots of different emotional moments in a story. It's usually about some struggle of wanting to love, wanting to be true to one's self in some way, or doing something which is very, very fundamentally human, I think.

Skip to 1 minute and 59 secondsWhen we engage in a story it's telling us something about being human. And some of the dilemmas about being alive, and wanting to overcome a problem, in a way. So a good story reminds us of what's important to us, and how to live with each other, in some ways. They can make us wiser.

Skip to 2 minutes and 27 secondsMADELINE PATERSON: Oh, OK. And does that really explain why some businesses and organisations are using stories more and more to market their services and their products, because they're so powerful?

Skip to 2 minutes and 41 secondsSTEVE KILLICK: Well, I think, yes. Stories are a very powerful way that we communicate and try and influence each other. And I wonder if it's appealing to businesses now because sometimes reasons, explanations, and facts don't really engage us. So a lot of our decisions are to do with wanting to feel better about something. So stories can often connectors us with those kind of feelings, and engage us much more emotionally than statistics can.

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 secondsMADELINE PATERSON: And you mentioned identification before. Can you tell us what that means, in relation to a story?

Skip to 3 minutes and 26 secondsSTEVE KILLICK: Well, I think, in a sense, maybe when we watch a film, or read a book, or listen to a story, we're placing ourselves in that story.

Skip to 3 minutes and 39 secondsMADELINE PATERSON: Do you think businesses and organisations have stories that consumers really want to hear?

Skip to 3 minutes and 47 secondsSTEVE KILLICK: Well, I would hope so. Because I think we always want to hear a story. We always want to learn how our lives might be better, how things could be better.

Skip to 4 minutes and 0 secondsAnd in a way, stories entertain us, but they also educate us, as well. So we can, if we can see how things might be better for us, then using a story-- if it's a genuine and well-felt story-- it's going to be powerful and influence people. If it doesn't feel true, then it may not achieve its objective.

Skip to 4 minutes and 30 secondsMADELINE PATERSON: I don't think I'm very good at telling stories. How would you advise me, if I wanted to tell a story about my own experience in my company, or my own experience of anything?

Skip to 4 minutes and 43 secondsSTEVE KILLICK: I think, actually, we're all very good at telling stories. And we've got to find our own way of telling a story. And it can help to think, well, what's the story I want to tell? How can I tell that quickly? I mean, one of the things is actually spending too long telling a story. It's actually good to get to the point of a story very quickly. What are the key emotions and the key human characteristics that are featured in this story? What are the universals? And I think those of the things that pull us into a story.

Skip to 5 minutes and 23 secondsMADELINE PATERSON: That's brilliant. Steve, Thank you, very much.

Why businesses use storytelling

In this video you meet Steve Killick, a psychologist and storyteller, who in his interview with Madeline explains how storytelling engages people on an emotional level.

From this interview, you will find out why business and organisations use stories and how stories can be powerful and influence people.


Digital marketing is not only about delivering ‘content’ to consumers. It is about provoking conversations within your market that stimulate engagement, reflection and action.

New digital forms, and consumers’ interest in authentic stories, means that there are countless ways to reach and engage a global audience.

If you are considering using stories in your marketing, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is your customer’s goal?

  • What is the challenge that they face?

  • How do they want their life to be transformed?

  • What is standing in the way?

  • What do you want to communicate?

  • How can you engage them with a story that gets to the essence of the transformation they would like to see in their lives?

Digital marketing is making marketing and consumption an increasingly personalised and personal experience.


How will you respond? Do you have stories to share?

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This video is from the free online course:

Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights

University of Southampton

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join: