Summary of If a Story Moves You, Act on It

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If a Story Moves You, Act on It summary
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  • Innovative
  • Eye Opening
  • Inspiring


Humans have long understood the powerful emotive effect of stories. Now, writer and activist Sisonke Msimang questions the effectiveness of stories as a catalyst for action. She explains that some stories resonate so strongly in listeners that the vicarious experience replaces action, and she recommends strategies to help audiences overcome this tendency. getAbstract loves a good story and highly recommends Msimang’s charming, insightful talk.

About the Speaker

Storyteller, writer and human rights activist Sisonke Msimang is head of programs at the Center for Stories.



Storytelling is a powerful tool. It gives voices to people’s personal narratives and acts as a strong counterbalance to ignorance and bias. Anyone with access to the Internet can download stories and learn about the world’s citizens and communities. Sharing stories can help people to fall in love, mend bridges and foster a sense of care for others. But are stories an effective instrument for achieving social justice? In some cases, even the most moving stories told with the best intentions to empathetic and compassionate audiences fail to provoke social action. Three factors explain this phenomenon:

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