• Rain Bennett

Ep. 86: How Storytelling Builds, Grows, & Strengthens Group Behavior with Annette Simmons

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

On this episode of The Storytelling Lab, Rain sits down with Annette Simmons, author, speaker, community activist, and behavioral storytelling expert who just so happens to live right in his neck of the woods! Annette discusses the importance of authentic connection and diversity in storytelling as well as how to how to recognize if your story has resonated with your audience based on their behavior. This episode is perfect for anybody who wants to better their communication skills.



Have you ever been called out in front of people?

Maybe you said or did something wrong or dumb, but all of a sudden a group of people is starting at you.

How did that feel?

It sucked, right?

Well that feeling -- which is known as “shame” -- is a feeling that developed in the early days of humanity. In fact, it’s a feeling that all animals share.

It’s fear.

For us homo sapiens, it was fear that we would be ostracized to the point of being kicked out of the community or village, left to fend for ourselves. That meant almost certain death.

And many millennia later, even though it isn’t typically a life-or-death situation, it still conjures up just as strong of a feeling in our brains.

The belonging to a group was necessary for our survival.

And we created those groups by sharing stories.

Story is the DNA of all meaning – nothing is important without the story you tell yourself about it.”

I talked with Annette Simmons, author of The Story Factor and Whoever Tell the Best Story Wins on the podcast this week about this very concept.

Annette became a storytelling expert (and one that lives just one town away from me!) by first studying psychology and behavior patterns that casted people out of their groups.

Along that path of research, it emerged very clearly that stories were what kept people in those groups and, in fact, made the group stronger!

Now, Annette uses her knowledge and research to help work groups perform better together.

According to her,

“Work groups follow certain patterns. Research in social psychology, game theory and behavior economics reveal most group patterns are more easily predicted by tracking the emotions of a group, than by reading their latest action plan”.

Even when we are plotting out a strategy to carry out a clear mission, we are driven by emotion.

Everything with humans is driven by emotion.

And you should remember that when you’re trying to sell your product, persuade people to donate, encourage people to try your service, or to help a friend or loved one through hardship.

In this episode, Annette drops some of the most Tweetable one-liners I might’ve ever heard.

You’ll be able to listen to this episode once and have a complete understanding of how stories work in the minds of humans.

I know I did.

If understanding how and why storytelling is the universal communication tool that will achieve “better communication” for any group in any situation, this is the episode for you!


Some of the highlights of our conversation:

  • Annette’s definition of “story”

  • Writing “The Story Factor”

  • What is the “bigger story?”

  • The 6 stories you need to tell

  • “S.E.E.” Significant Emotional Event

  • The importance of diversity within storytelling

  • Connection between people as the strength of storytelling

  • Growing up teaching leadership

  • Pausing and listening within storytelling

  • Protecting and enriching your community

  • Figuring out what’s truly meaningful within your life

  • What happens when we listen to a good story

  • Sensory experiences during storytelling

  • Storytelling as the original virtual reality

As always, I hope you enjoy the episode!

Peace and Love,



Follow Annette on:

Or visit her website here!

For more storytelling tips and tricks,

Visit my website, or

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