One of the toughest persuasion tasks is convincing a jury in a courtroom. Car salespeople have it easy by comparison – they control the environment and have the undivided attention of the customer. Imagine if you were in a Lexus showroom listening to why you should buy one of their vehicles, and at your elbow was a BMW salesperson, periodically objecting to the Lexus pitch and then delivering her own. That’s the situation in a courtroom – arguments presented by one side will be directly (and mercilessly) attacked by the other side. One trial-proven persuasion strategy is the use of stories.

Researchers Philip Mazzocco and Melanie Green draw a contrast between rhetorical persuasion, in essence arguing with facts and logic, and the use of narratives to influence decisions. They conclude that stories are more effective at changing emotional beliefs that logical arguments have difficulty reaching.

The whole discussion is an interesting read, but for me one big takeaway is the list of factors that have been found to make stories more persuasive:

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