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Using storytelling in corporate training can be a great way to make new information stick. Instead of just appealing to our logical side, a story pulls at the emotional strings of the heart, making a stronger impression. Three ways that stories can be used in corporate training are by creating drama, putting the trainee right in the middle of the story, and creating a story that will resonate with the trainee.

Create Drama For the Trainee

Everyone likes a story that makes us feel something. Training that includes some element of suspense, unease, or danger is no different. Even something as supposedly “boring” as training employees to keep good documentation can be spiced up.

Which of the following two scenarios would be more memorable to the trainee?

Scenario 1

Your corporate trainer tells you that “It’s important to have complete documentation or it may be difficult to find bugs”.

Scenario 2

It was about time to go home for a relaxing weekend, and I decided to check out the billing logs one last time. To my shock, we were double billing clients for each purchase at the rate of 20 per minute. My boss, who had written the billing software, was on a flight to New York so it was impossible to get a hold of him. I frantically began working through the code to try to figure out what was wrong, but since there was no documentation, I was afraid to make any changes for fear it might affect another part of the system.

Put the Trainee in the Story

Another way that storytelling can be used in corporate training is to put the trainee in the story. Even if the story is a hypothetical scenario, the trainee will be more connected to the process because he or she will feel like they are a genuine part of it.

Which of the following two Sexual Harassment Training scenarios would have a stronger impact on the trainee?

Scenario 1

Your corporate trainer tells you that “Sexual harassment can make an employee feel uncomfortable”.

Scenario 2

barYour supervisor asks you if you’d like to go out to lunch. You’re pretty busy but feel obliged to go. At lunch your supervisor tells you that you’re doing a great job at work and he or she also tells you that you look really good these days. He/she even asks you if you’ve been working out. At the conclusion of the lunch your supervisor asks you if you’d like to get a drink sometime after work.

Now that you’re part of the story, there will be a feeling associated with your response. And, you’ll remember this feeling the next time you’re in a situation that is similar.

Have a Character That Resonates With The Trainee

A third way that you can use stories in corporate training is to have a character that actually resonates with those who you are trying to train. ┬áIf the character rings true with the trainee, then he or she will take the training situation more “personally” and remember it longer.

Which of the following two scenarios would have a stronger impression on the trainee?

Scenario 1

Your corporate trainer tells you that you should “Follow all the safety protocols”.

Scenario 2

ladderMike S. worked at our Nashville plant 2 years ago. He and his wife had 2 kids and had just saved up enough money to buy a new home. It was a pretty hot day, so Mike and his crew decided to not wear their helmets.

He was climbing up a ladder to fix a piece of machinery and slipped, falling from the ladder and hitting his head. He was out for 6 months, and still has problems remembering.

The second version is certainly more powerful because if you’re teaching machine safety in this manner to everyone, then they’ll all be able to identify with Mike: most of them work on the plant floor, are married, and have kids. Training in this manner will be especially powerful because you identify with the trainee.

Your Thoughts?

As a corporate trainer, have you used stories as a method to get a point across? If so, how? Please feel free to share a story or two in the comment form below.


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