Stories have existed for millennia as our ancestors used them to pass on knowledge to the next generation. Today, storytelling is no longer limited to movies, theaters, literature, and television. In the context of training or eLearning, storytelling in training creates a more immersive learning experience.
Storytelling is a strong business skill, and if implemented effectively, it can boost the training effects in a number of ways. In this blog, we’ll look at reasons to use storytelling in eLearning and some ways to improve the use of storytelling in eLearning.
- Why use storytelling in training?
- Tips to improve the use of storytelling in training
Why use storytelling in training?
Wherever you are, storytelling remains the most innate form of communication. All of us tell stories: your daily story, your life story, workplace gossip, and even the horrors on the news.
Storytelling is the oldest form of teaching as it bonded the early human communities, giving children the answers to big questions of creation, life, and the afterlife. Stories define us, shape us, and make us.
- Storytelling in training presents an effective method of delivering knowledge.
- Storytelling in training increases emotional engagement between learners and the learning content.
- Storytelling in training brings employees together around an experience.
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#1 Storytelling in training presents an effective method of delivering knowledge.
The main element of all eLearning programs is learner engagement. With so many employees now working remotely since the N-COVID pandemic, getting them engaged in training is surely a challenge. Therefore, the use of storytelling in training as a tool, especially if the plot is workplace-based, helps learners relate to the learning content better.
Given that a major part of the workforce works remotely nowadays, a well-laid-out storyline also helps employees relate to virtual characters (manager, supervisor, leader, etc) and roles (sales, technical support, and marketing) within their organization.
More importantly, given the new reality of remote work, businesses can use story-based learning to train employees on both real-life and hypothetical situations that many of them may encounter.
Below is a discussion where the child development expert Stephanie Anderson speaks about child development and how storytelling can be a powerful tool to teach children and expand vocabulary.
#2 Storytelling in training increases emotional engagement between learners and the learning content
Learning theorists suggest that learners need to see the relevance of content to feel persuaded to learn it. Conventional training typically walks learners through content like compliance standards to make employees aware of what’s right or wrong. However, this is quite an impersonal approach to training.
In contrast, the use of storytelling in eLearning employs a different approach. By incorporating a story into learning content, you can build an emotional attachment between learners and the characters of the story.
Once that emotional attachment is built—for instance, between a leader and a new team member—it’s easier to encourage behavioral change through story-based learning.
For example, reading a 10-page presentation on “Why workers shouldn’t leave the machine plugged in overnight” won’t have as much impact on behavior modification. However, a story-based training method can do better: “Meet Bob who is on disability leave because a colleague left the machine powered on overnight causing Bob’s injury the next morning.”
If the storytelling exercise forces employees to see the workplace through Bob’s eyes, they will have a tendency to empathize and even sympathize with Bob’s situation.
#3 Storytelling in training brings employees together around an experience
The power of effective training is its ability to connect people and create a sense of community. Your organizations can use storytelling to foster group cohesion based on shared understanding. You can do this by telling stories that they have in common.
For example, employees can be brought together by presenting them with a common goal through a story about corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The goal can be how you can give back to the community in a meaningful way. People feel more relatable to the company when they have common goals and values embedded in a story. This especially helps to ensure brand compliance in employee training or your target audience.
Tips to improve the use of storytelling in training
Developing an eLearning course always requires much effort. From clarifying the course objectives, deciding the delivery method to gathering information, etc, are all these steps that need to be paid attention to in order to enhance the course quality.
In this blog, we’ll look into 3 tips to improve the use of storytelling in training
1. Make sure your story is relatable to your daily workplace situation
2. Research your audience
3. Pay attention to detail.
#1 Make sure your story is relatable to your daily workplace situation
There will always be a story behind your business idea – whether it’s to do with developing a new service/ product or growing your business.
The aim of your idea is to solve a problem so tell the story of how you were affected by this matter and how this led to your product/service. Make sure that you’re making the story relatable to the workplace by using real-life situations as it is easier to see why your goods will add value to customers’ lives.
For example, below is a short animated video talking about basic knowledge for the business law course that will be used to online teach students of UNSW.
Law courses with heavy content have been learners’ nightmare for a long time. Therefore, UNSW trainers have come up with storytelling – a learning method that helps learners continuously upgrade their knowledge at a fast pace.
With storytelling, abstract concepts are broken down into bite-size pieces with daily characters and situations. This helps learners know how to apply theories into reality quickly and effectively.
#2 Research your audience
In the case of eLearning, the stories you tell also need to relate to your intended audience for the best result. This also helps you effectively write learning objectives for your online courses.
Define the persona of your learners to really get to know that person. Answer questions like the audience demographics, where will the learner engage with the content? What context will they relate to the most? Then, craft your audience portraits to resonate with the learner.
#3 Pay attention to detail.
Things that make stories come alive for the reader are strong and vivid details. Details allow readers to connect to the story and give the story credibility. When crafting eLearning stories, your priority should be to help learners create mental images of the narrative. Again, this activates the brain and deepens the learning impact.
Despite the multiple available technologies we have, it’s still the story that moves us as a species. By tapping into the power of storytelling, you can create more powerful and effective eLearning courses.
Stories have the power to engage us in a simple way narratives just can’t. And you can enhance the power of storytelling in eLearning to make more compelling training that builds a culture of compliance.