Sourcing stories fast for training

Find Story

Something I’ve learnt during my time teaching, training and undertaking instructional design is that people love to share their stories. It’s a natural drive. Why not then use stories to enhance learning and streamline your design at the same time?

As mentioned in previous posts, stories are an extremely powerful way to teach or train. But where can you source these? Do you need to come up with a story from scratch? Or do you need to spend hours working with a SME constructing stories? Surely there’s an easier way…

Well of course there is! Source your stories directly from those with the experience.

Sourcing stories directly mean they will be authentic, believable, targeted and related to your audience already.

Here’re couple of examples of when I’ve sourced stories directly and how I’ve used them.

Staff stories in speech bubbles

Within a Complaints online course, one of the learning outcomes was to identify how complaints could improve business processes and service.

For this outcome I sourced stories from different areas of the business by asking for examples of how complaints had led to business improvements in the past. I then presented these examples in speech bubbles pointing off the edge of the screen. This used minimal media due to time and budget constraints and considerations.

These stories had a powerful impact in supporting the learning outcome and they took very little effort to source and present. It also meant that I didn’t have to tell why complaints are important to a business – it was made obvious by the examples.

Staff audio stories

Stories are also great in system training to explain why things are done in a particular way and as a result how it impacts on the customer and the business.  In one situation I needed a way to explain why it was important to group related information together within the software system.

For this outcome I sourced stories from experienced staff on cases they had worked on. Explaining why information was grouped together in these cases and what the benefits of grouping the information was for both the customer and the business.

These stories were much more powerful than simply telling staff what to do. They gave context and real life examples. To present these stories I simply recorded staff telling their stories, then edited the audio and placed it directly onto the LMS (Learning Management System) course page.

Microphone with cable connected ready for an interview, singing

A fast and effective approach with minimal multimedia skills required.

What techniques do you use with integrating stories into your learning design? I’d love to hear from you…

Follow me to hear more about this and check out some of my other posts about using stories in e/learning.

Making your elearning theme come to life

Young man in suit looking astonished in laptop. Surfing the inte

To make your elearning theme come to life you need to build atmosphere and emotion into it. There are many ways in which you can do this to make a memorable elearning experience.

Consider all the elements of your course and make them fit your elearning theme e.g. learner goal/challenge, language style, type of interactions, graphics, fonts, animations, audio, and video. It’s like having a consistent overarching story running through the whole elearning experience, where everything looks like it belongs together.

I recently built a compliance course focused on on a futuristic theme. My clients wanted a positive focus in their compliance training by doing the right thing for the customer rather than focusing on avoiding breaching the legislation.

Having the right theme – futuristic – helped put the positive spin into this elearning course. Here’s how I built atmosphere and emotion into my theme.

Start with a learner challenge

It’s motivating to jump straight in and start with a learner challenge. This can be as simple as asking the learner a question. For my futuristic theme, I gave a couple of sentences describing the situation and then asked the question “what future will you create” with a two photos of the same customer, one with a happy expression and the other looking nervous.

Font to match the theme

Getting the right signature font to match your theme works well for creating atmosphere. For my theme I downloaded the “Back to the Future” font from and used it to match my theme…

In to the Future - da font

Background graphics to match the theme

This is where I thought about what graphics in the background could add value to building the theme and experience. With the futuristic theme certain things popped to mind like space, time travel, motion, black hole, speed. With a couple of well placed searches in stock sites I was able to locate the perfect background graphic for my theme:

Abstract Motion Background

Sound for scene setting

Using sound to set the scene can be a very effective way to develop the right emotion. For my theme I downloaded a futuristic sound woosh to match the fly from left entrance of the ‘In to the Future’ title.

Animation and motion

Use motion and animation to match your theme and build interest. Choose a couple of styles of animation and keep it simple so it doesn’t overwhelm the learner. In my theme I used two types of animation: in the initial slide I animated the ‘In to the future’ title and the three following statements to fly in from the left. At the beginning of each branching scenario I also added a spin to the slide transition.

Matching language

It’s important the language style matches your theme no matter whether it’s spoken audio or whether it’s in writing. To match my futuristic theme I needed to make sure the language I used was in future tense. I also keep my language conversation as this tone fitted my theme, topic and audience.


There are lots of other ways to build atmosphere and emotion in your elearning theme, such as developing characters and the overacrching story. An important thing to keep in mind is that the visual, audio, and interactive elements, as mentioned above – add to your theme, rather than detract from it.


If you found this post useful, please click the follow button to receive updates of new blog posts.