The stories that children listen to in their formative years stay with them throughout their lives. The morals, values and inspiration that they instill are never lost. Not only children, adults too are quicker at learning and retaining concepts conveyed via stories because they help them identify with the characters portrayed and evaluate how the content is relevant to them.
We’ll give you an example. Suppose we had to explain what an LMS is. One way is to define it like this:
A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of e-learning education courses or training programs. They are also used by educational institutions to enhance and support classroom teaching and offering courses to a larger population of learners. LMSs are used by regulated industries (e.g. financial services and biopharma) for compliance training. Most LMSs are web-based to facilitate access to learning content and administration.
Alternatively, we could say something like:
Mary has just joined XYZ Automobiles as a Regional Marketing Manager North Zone (India). Though she is sincere and has three years of experience at being a marketing manager for a small startup, her employers think that it would be great if she undergoes training besides staying updated about the automobile industry. As a part of the standard procedure for all employees, Mary is given access to a software application via her office desktop. The application is called LearnXYZ and it has a comprehensive collection of articles, blogs, news stories and learning material on various topics. Out of curiosity, she clicks on the Marketing tab to check what is availabile. She reads an article published recently that compares the internal marketing strategies that the top automobile player has employed. Quite impressed at the speed with which she could reach her area-specific content, she rolls over to have a quick glance at the other learning material. Just as she is doing this, the page gets refreshed as a new video about branding has been uploaded by the administrator. She watches the two-minute video only to be happier that she is part of a learning management system that is swift and updated. Just as she is about to logout, she visits her profile page and sees that information that the article was read and video that she viewed has been listed on her profile. She can’t help but smile.
Which of the two paragraphs was more comprehensible to you? Consider explaining what a LMS is to a newbie. Of course the definition is concise, but which one do you think will really make the listener understand what a LMS is and how it works?
That is the power of storytelling. A carefully crafted story can explain concepts in a much more learner-friendly way than anything else.
That being said, what are the things you need to keep in mind before you wrap your text-and-image heavy pages into brilliantly interesting and engaging stories? Here’s a quick list:
One concept per story
You sure don’t want to leave your learners confused. Start with a notive about what exactly this particular story intends to teach before you write and build a crisp, short story around it.
Use characters and examples
Have a protagonist who does things like your employees do. Create situations and examples around it. You may have more than one characters but make sure they are well defined in their roles and responsibilities.
Use a conversational style
This is very helpful in building an instant rapport with the listener. A conversational style makes your audience feel more involved in the narrative. Using “business speak” or too many technical terms too often, will put you in a precarious position as far as conveying the idea is concerned.
Integrate multimedia wherever possible
Audio stories do good, but if you’re willing to go that extra mile to present your story in the form of a video, great. Add static or dynamic illustrations to your story for extra impact. Capture and add real pictures of aspects within your organization so that learners can quickly identify work processes, ideas and the concepts behind them.
Spending time to craft a good story will be a good return on investment, considering the impact it will have on all learners to come.