Capturing and holding the attention of trainees is a difficult challenge. Some new approaches are the use of storytelling which can be an effective solution.
How do most training courses begin? Usually with an introduction of the topic and pointing out the benefits of the training. Also how the course will go, what will be done and etc. Sounds good enough, right?
Well, maybe not. Such an approach is considered normal and so mundane that most people actually rarely pay attention to it. It also is a bit too “serious and dry” and not something compelling. Why would basic training information need to be compelling? In order to engage and excite the trainees, that’s why.
Training is an experience. As such, it needs to capture the person’s attention and involve him or her in the action. Storytelling has many uses and forms and eLearning trainings can benefit a lot from it, Ellen Burns-Johnson writes. She even gives some examples and ideas how storytelling can help.
For example show a problem.
If it is something from the real world, great. If it is something from the same field as the learners, even better. Yes, it would take some additional time for preparation for the trainer. He or she would have to have an idea about the audience at a specific training.
The results can be worth it though. Especially if it is something practical and after telling the learners about it, they can try it, too. This involves them in the process from the get-go and it becomes a team mission to find or learn the solution, instead of simply waiting for the trainer to say the usual introduction blurb.
Stories can be used to teach, too.
When giving examples or showing new material, you can make it a story. Instead of saying “this new function in the server application will increase your flow by 25%”, you can show it as a story. Yes, it is more involving to create and draw pictures of a troubles system administrator and how the new method makes him or her a happy one. It would also need some creativity for creating stories, but these details can make a difference.
Or course, stories shouldn’t dominate the entire experience. You would need to find the right balance and use them here and there to make a point and to break the flow up a bit. This will create for a more interesting experience, which will help keep the learners engaged. Also, be prepared to adapt to each audience and skip or add a story as needed.
Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Breyten Ernsting