Storytelling in Corporate Learning – 3 Impactful Uses

In a world full of noise, you won’t get yourself heard without a story. Telling stories has become incredibly important. Whereas the world is full of information, facts and data, we can only process a very limited quantity of it. To get ourselves heard, we need to connect emotionally to our audience and present compelling narratives. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to win people over and evoke change with facts. In the realm of workplace learning, we first need to get people to listen, then to remember, and finally to act. Therefore, we need stories too. Here are three impactful uses for storytelling in corporate learning.

1. Increase the retention of learning content

People don’t really remember facts, but they do remember stories. To understand this, look no further than the award-winning advertisements and campaigns of recent years. Companies have stopped talking about their products and services, or even themselves. Rather, they tell stories about their values and people. And people do end up buying, because they remember those stories.

Storytelling in corporate learning works in a similar fashion. Learning retention is one of the common problems with learning initiatives. We tend to pack our learning content with data and facts, but end up doing a disservice to our learners. Instead, we should focus on telling stories. Stories that portray e.g. our customers, or the people in the organisation. This puts a humanising touch to the learning experience, whether it’s online or offline.

Furthermore, good storytelling practices also force us to focus on what matters. Good stories cannot be packed with information. Every point that is less than 100% relevant to the story dilutes its impact. Therefore, when building stories, the aim is to go as bare-bones as possible, to only include the most relevant facts. From a learning point of view, this helps the learners to get the necessary information quickly and avoid the excess clutter. Often, less is more when it comes to corporate learning.

2. Communicate the ‘why’ of new learning initiatives

The practice of workplace learning is undergoing big shifts. Most companies are looking for ways to digitalise learning and implement new learning technologies in the workplace. With shifts like these, we are often introducing new ways of working and doing things. Yet, we don’t always communicate it very well.

When undergoing digital transformation, most companies tend to focus on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the change. What is going the be the new way? How are going to do it? The problem is, that is not interesting, and people won’t listen. Instead, we should put a heavy emphasis on the ‘why’. People may not even agree with the ‘what’ or the ‘how’, but if you’re good in communicating the ‘why’, they are much more likely to rally behind your cause. Connect with the audience, and communicate shared values, and you’ll get them on board. Good storytelling in corporate learning focuses on and starts from the ‘why’.

3. Get people to put knowledge into action

Retention is not the only challenge in corporate learning, perhaps not even the biggest one. In fact, the biggest challenge is often behavioural change. Once we get the knowledge installed in the learners’ minds, the question becomes whether they’ll actually put it into practice. Without adequate support, they statistically won’t, and learning transfer will remain low. Yet, telling stories could help in this regard too.

Good storytelling in corporate learning gets people to put the learnt into practice, to do it. By featuring stories of people who have implemented particular knowledge or skills at their work, we create a path for others to follow. Good stories can be testimonials, but they can also be more concrete, practical how-to examples. Once learners see other people in similar jobs and contexts telling their stories of success, or even failure, they are much more likely to take the leap and do it themselves.

Final words

Telling stories is more and more important, even in corporate learning. It enables us to get people on board, have them listen and remember, as well as put the learnt into practice. A storytelling mindset also helps learning professionals focus on what’s important: communicating ‘why’ and cutting out unnecessary information that would only overload the learners. If you need help in building better storytelling in your corporate learning, we may be able to help. Just drop us a note here.

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