The strong connection between emotion and memory is the key to leaving a lasting impression – use it in your online communication
Remember that time your bus was on time and you had a normal day at work five years ago? Of course you don’t – unless that was the last normal day you ever had.
We are hardwired to record and preserve the stuff that matters – what’s boring, repetitive and unspectacular gets “filed away” in our brains and will eventually get thrown out. The most emotional moments from our past are the ones we are likely to remember most vividly.
By nature, online communication is short-lived – it passes quickly through our newsfeeds and even if something catches our attention, it will most likely be superseded by another post in the blink of an eye.
It’s what your audience feels that will make the difference between indifference and a lasting impression. How can we use this knowledge to communicate better?
There are numerous ways to appeal to emotions. This is a subtle art – unless your objective is to be remembered at any cost, you will want to assess which emotions you convey, and how to stay appropriate while making a splash. Here are four strategies that we employ at cartoonbase on a daily basis to craft messages that stick.
- Make it fun
A good laugh does not only provide a welcome break from tedious, stressful or difficult work, it also offers a shortcut to the long-term memory by triggering a short burst of strong and positive emotion.
What better way than a cartoon to add some fun to an otherwise dry topic?
(Humour is not the only emotion a drawing can trigger, of course – can you resist clicking on something cute?)
- Tell a story
We’ve seen this technique earlier when talking about drafting a good title – the same goes for the full content. Humans like stories; scientists are not quite sure yet why that is but it seems that listening to a story releases reward chemicals in our brain as we recreate the story in our mind and enables us to exercise our empathy skills.
There’s hardly any topic that cannot be introduced by some form of minimal storytelling. Look at the first sentence of this article – it’s phrased the way stories often are, and who knows, maybe it’s the reason you’re still reading on.
Like laughter, surprises create a quick surge of emotion. When browsing through online newsfeeds, we are actually hoping and waiting to be surprised – scientific research shows that surprise effects act like drugs on our brains, creating an addiction.
Adding an element of surprise might sound like a difficult feat when everything has been done already, but it’s in fact a standard storytelling device you may not even be aware of using. Think of any old-fashioned “three wishes” joke: the standard structure relies on the first wishes going to plan in a repetitive manner, setting the stage for the third wish going wrong in an unexpected fashion.
Animation provides an easy and light way of adding elements of surprise to the narration or the illustration of otherwise serious topics.
- Create immersion: enter video communication
One of the reasons why video communication is so effective is that activates several senses are the same time. For our brains and emotions to start ‘recording’, it’s helpful when different senses are triggered simultaneously.
Music plays a particularly important role in reinforcing messages received through other “channels”.