The emotional value of a story

Oct 28,2012

Lately, I’ve been doing quite a bit of instructional design and working with some amazing Subject Matter Experts.  At a recent meeting a team of four experts sat and spent most of the morning just telling stories about their experiences with their subject that provided a unique and very inciteful picture of the subject and why I was being asked to help them.  What really struck me was that despite having done a lot of research into the subject I had not really connected with the human impact of their subject  until they recounted their stories.  Sure, I understood the issues, the barriers that needed to be overcome and the impact that the issues cause, but it was the impact that these issues have on people that really struck me.  Nothing I had read had explained how the subject changed peoples lives or how simple changes could have made such a difference.

Storytelling is part of our DNA.  Stories inform us, and teach us about a subject, but in a way that has far more impact than cold hard facts.  Often the issue comes to life when it is expressed as a story by someone who has experienced it, can colour our understanding of the subject and connect us emotionally with it.

I know that’s actually obvious, and is done by the press all the time, but in e-learning often the human impact can be lost in all the business drivers, solutions and changes that are required as outcomes.

My latest e-learning instructional design contains three short stories.  They are real, emotional and show the impact of the subject on people, just like you and me.  I hope the learners are moved to make the simple changes that would mean so much to others.

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