Humans have used storytelling to teach lessons for generations. Cautionary tales were used to discourage children from doing dangerous things. Events were retold to pass information along before we had so many ways to record and distribute content.
Storytelling works well because it has a way of sticking with us. A well-told tale will have an impact. It captivates us and elicits emotion, making it more memorable and relatable.
When used in employee training, storytelling helps us engage our audience, keeping them motivated and improving knowledge retention.
Think about how often people discuss their favorite television shows, movies, or books. Imagine if your training classes could generate a similar level of interest. Even a fraction of that interest would have a profound impact on your business goals.
Why does your employee training need storytelling?
- A story builds an emotional connection between the learner and what you are teaching them. Science has found that sensory-heavy language and narratives activate larger portions of the brain compared to language processing alone.
- Sharing information or instructions as a story makes them more memorable. That also means learners will be better equipped to return to the job and immediately use their new skills after completing lessons.
- Storytelling can be used to turn a dry topic into an interesting one. Topics that are viewed as bland, like security or systems, can be made more exciting and attention-grabbing. Turning facts and information into a story helps learners hold their attention and enjoy the training experience – which is great for motivation.
The first step is to use a good learning management system to help you produce compelling storytelling content. Visit LMS.org to learn more about the newest features or to read LMS reviews.
What should you do to start using storytelling in your training content?
- Understand Your Audience
If you want your story to connect with learners, you need to understand your audience. One training class may have different needs and expectations from the next. For example, you may need to take a different approach if you want to learn how to increase compliance training engagement than you would if you were creating content for new hire onboarding.
Think about the goals of your learners. Write these characteristics down so you can apply them as you build your story-driven content.
- Create Clear Objectives
Any author will tell you that writing a good story requires direction. When it comes to storytelling in training, that means you need to know your objectives. This must be established before you begin developing content.
Storytelling can be used for a broad range of purposes. It can be applied to spread awareness of an issue, develop skills, or change behaviors. Go into the process knowing what you hope to achieve, and you’ll be better able to create effective storytelling content that matches your business goals.
- Build a Full Story
What do all well-told stories have in common? They have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Your training content should follow the same format. The story you tell must have structure. Something with no ending won’t be satisfying and could cause confusion.
It can help to check out a story arc guide to understand how to arrange the tale. The beginning should set the stage while the middle features rising action. It should hit a climax before falling to a resolution. This method gives the story structure and makes it interesting for the learner.
- Use Curiosity and Suspense
Add in a bit of curiosity and suspense to improve engagement. Suspense helps us remember because the human brain has a strong desire to complete unfinished business. It also makes us focus, enveloping our minds in the story.
Suspense compels us to take action. The sense of conflict, unfinished business, and emotional connections drive us to act and find a resolution.
Your training content may not be a murder mystery or thriller, but you can find creative ways to incorporate curiosity and suspense.
- Keep the Story Focused
Make sure your story stays focused. That means it’s interesting, but also achieves your training goals. Avoid trying to apply too many lessons to one story. Doing so could make it hard to follow and muddy the objective.
Any part of the story that isn’t related to your objective should be removed. You can create other story content for other parts of training if needed. Even if you are relaying a real-life story, you should still stick with what is relevant to the lesson. A story that meanders too far off-course will not have as much power over your audience.
- Use Engaging Language
Use engaging language in your storytelling. This refers to words that have an impact. Try to energize your audience. They should feel your passion for the topic through the story.
This is a good way to start if you want to find out how to motivate your team for learning and development in 2023. Use strong words that will trigger a reaction in your audience. Also, include sensory words that help build the scene and put the mind into the action. These are the words that allow your audience to hear, see, and fully experience what’s happening.
- Keep It Concise
While you should use engaging language, remember to keep your content concise. A bloated story will work against your training goals. Always re-read your content before presenting it in training or recording it in a video. Determine if everything included adds to the experience. If not, it may need to be removed or revised.
All content should be connected to your objective and engage the learner without losing momentum.
There is science behind the benefits of storytelling in business training. It’s also used as a valuable marketing tool for many of the same reasons.