Do you want to engage your audience and help them to emotionally connect with content? Do you want to find a way to get a difficult concept across? Here are some reasons why storytelling needs to be part of your elearning toolkit:
Research tells us storytelling is a powerful way to teach
As well as providing entertainment, stories are often used to teach deeper lessons. Parents have used stories for thousands of years to teach children life skills, beliefs and values. Stories have been used over history to teach religious belief. Advertisers use stories to sell their products. Storytelling as a technique for teaching is not new, it has been used throughout history to embed learning and change behaviour.
Research consistently tells us that stories are much more effective for learning and changing behaviour than giving facts or telling people what to do. This article from the Elearning Guild cites research evidence that found storytelling to be a more effective way of learning.
Stories are everywhere
We are used to stories – they surround us everyday. Whether they are stories from friends and colleagues, reading stories to children, watching a movie, TV (even some of the adverts), listening to songs, or reading a fictional novel. Our brains are conditioned to hear stories and they are an enjoyable way to digest information.
They work well as a motivator – grabbing attention!
A well designed story at the beginning of a training or elearning course can pull the learner in to complete the rest of the course. Stories as an attention grabber are motivating for the audience – they show why the topic is relevant to them.
They give context and meaning
By providing characters, settings and a flow of information or events stories give context and meaning to a lesson. Through a story we can learn from other people’s mistakes or challenges without having to go through the same experience ourselves. Stories can organise complicated seemly unrelated data into connected and meaningful patterns. They are excellent for conveying complicated concepts in a digestible meaningful way.
Connect with the audience at an emotional level
Well designed stories connect with the audience on an emotional level. They use characters that the audience can easily relate to, humour and have a tension point. Here is an example of an advert in New Zealand that had a well designed story to get the message across that it’s good to ‘stop your friends from drink driving’:
The “Ghost Chips” humour from this story became mainstream and gave youths a non-confrontational way to stop their mates from drink driving.
Want to read more, here are a few articles on storytelling that I’ve enjoyed: