We all remember sitting in history class trying to remember names, dates and places and thinking that there was no possible way you could remember them all. I was lucky. I had two incredible history teachers who instead of making us memorize names, dates and places, brought history to life with stories. I fell in love with history in their classes. I remember every story they told but even after getting a history degree at University, I’m still terrible with names, dates and places.
In the early 1990’s, philanthropist Charles Bronfman was discouraged by Canadians lack of knowledge about our history and he looked for a way to engage, share and get Canadians, to not only be interested in our past but, more importantly, be proud of it. He decided to create Heritage Minutes. These one minute films would be played like commercials during prime time TV shows and at the movies. Topics ranged from the discovery of Canada to the building of Maple Leaf Gardens. They immediately resonated with viewers and soon people were talking about their favourite Heritage Minute and usually the conversations included someone saying, “I had no idea” or “I didn’t know about that”.
Today, the Heritage Minutes have become part of our collective memory and new minutes are being created and released, including Pioneering gay activist Jim Egan, the Japanese baseball team the Vancouver Asahi and Treaty 9 from the perspective of historical witness George Spence, an 18-year-old Cree hunter from Albany, James Bay.
The simple act of telling stories about our history, invited viewers to be part of the story. To connect with the people in the story. And maybe most important see themselves in the story. Stories can do what facts can’t. Stories help us remember.
Do you know the answers to these 3 Canadian facts?
- What year did Canada get it’s own flag?
- Who was the first female MP?
- Who was Vince Coleman and what happened in Halifax in 1917?
Answers: February 15,1965; Agnes MacPhail and Train dispatcher and the Halifax explosion.
How do I remember these facts? Heritage Minutes.
So what does this have to do with your business or organization? Simple. Humans are terrible with facts. We feel overwhelmed by them. We try to focus on them, write them down and kick ourselves when we can’t remember them. But through stories you can connect those facts to people, experiences and memories. These are the things that we remember.
The next time you are ready to give a presentation, write a blog post, post something on social media, think about how you can tell it as a story because guaranteed that story will connect with the listener and make you memorable.