“Once upon a time, so long ago that I forgot the date, there was a king and a queen who lived in a golden castle with all the riches in the world, in the most peaceful and beautiful of all kingdoms. They loved each other, they were loved by their subjects, and their lives seemed perfect, but they were deeply unhappy. They didn’t have any children.”
Does it sound familiar? Of course, it does. It is one of the standard plots in fairy tales we all have known since childhood.
Now let us read the following text:
“The Richland Kingdom, 8457 BC, GDP 187 trillion rich dollars, monarchs: King Richard XIX and Queen Richardine, no heirs, net worth 47 trillion rich dollars, official residence: Richmond Palace, near Richianopolis City”.
Which one are you most likely to remember a year from now? I bet it’s not the second, a simple list of facts and dates, without a coherent narrative or any emotion.
A narrative framework will make everything easier to remember, as our brains are better equipped to store and retrieve stories, not lists of random data. Keep that in mind when you design virtual training programs for corporate employees, as storytelling is a powerful tool that can make a difference for learning outcomes.
Corporate storytelling is a mainstream trend. It all started from the very simple observation: if narrative stories make everything stick better into our minds, why keep on writing the same old corporate reports, newsletters and presentations that are just lists of facts and data that people have a hard time remembering a few days after?
Why not integrate a company’s mission, values, product and results in a narrative framework that clients, employees, and shareholders find easily relatable?
Cirque du Soleil was one of the first companies that integrated corporate storytelling in their communication strategy and created a business environment that engaged differently with its employees and its audience.
Many narrative scenarios can be used to tell a corporate story: finding a solution to a problem (see above the unhappy king and queen with all the riches in the world but no heir), following the right path to the desired destination, a character’s journey to self-discovery, etc.
Storytelling for online training
Storytelling in online training will boost your attendees’ engagement and learning outcomes. Virtual storytellers, as well as traditional offline ones, use plots, a character (or a set of characters), and a medium (video, audio, written, or blended). Context is also essential, as it will help learners easily understand the content and its applicability. Try to grasp as much as you can from the corporate environment of your attendees (mission, values, market positioning, etc.) and make your content easily relatable.
Storytelling can be used as one of the many strategies included in a training course. Case studies, branching scenarios, games, and videos will be more engaging if they are designed with a strong narrative approach in mind.
The “problem-solution” or the “right path” scenarios will most likely make certain case studies more relatable. Learners will most likely remember them easily and apply the same solutions or build on them to come up with new ones in their daily lives. After all, we all remember how the queen and the king solved their problem even after all those years, isn’t it?
For instance, in an online training for sales departments, you can use narratives either when you present great success stories, or when you create practical problem-solving tasks that engage learners and make them come up with their solutions (eg. how to break into a certain market, how to target a specific demographic, how to increase sales among existing customers, etc.).
Just use your imagination and release the storyteller inside! The sky’s the limit, and the benefits are amazing for you and your learners. It will make you happy to see that you have delivered useful content that is easy to remember and to apply. It will help them in the long run, because integrating narrative to corporate environments will make them more productive and easily relatable to employees, customers, and shareholders.
To sum up
To sum up, storytelling is a wonderful tool that can help you build a better, more powerful connection between you and your attendees. It will help you speak to them, not at them.
Veronica is a multilingual trainer of trainers. She has years of experience working with adult learners, both in Higher Education and in the business sector.