Storytelling in Training

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Stories have a way of sticking with us. Whether it’s the book on your bedside table, an anecdote shared over coffee, or the latest drama on a favorite TV series, there’s something about a well-told story that captivates.

Entertainment is just a secondary perk, though. The art of storytelling is centuries old, used initially to pass on information from person to person. When we employ the technique in training, we’re looking to capitalize both benefits: spreading knowledge to learners while holding their attention and engaging their interest.

 

Why Use Storytelling

Storytelling is just one of the many tools in our training arsenal. It’s one of our favorites as it allows us to draw on our creativity, however, there are three other core reasons we gravitate toward the solution.

1. Storytelling creates an emotional connection between learners and lessons. As stories draw us in, we continually react, both emotionally and physically as they unfold. Scientists have seen this come alive in brain scans of learners. When presented with narratives and sensory-heavy language, larger portions of the brain are activated than just the language processing areas.

2. Storytelling allows us as content experts to injects creativity and levity into complex, dry topics. From systems to security, we tackle topics that are critical for organizations and learners but may skew a bit boring on the boring side. By transforming facts, processes, and procedures into a narrative, we’re able to hold learner attention longer and boost the likelihood that they’ll actually enjoy their training experience.

3. Storytelling makes content memorable. We want our training to stick. When a learner completes one of our training programs, our intention is that they can take what they’ve learned and immediately apply those skills. Beyond that, we want them to retain that information and be able to carry it through their work for a long period of time, sharing it with other team members as appropriate.

How to Use Storytelling

 

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 Now that you know the value behind the technique, let’s pull the curtain back on some simple best practices for incorporating storytelling into your training:

• Follow the classic story arc. Start with a clear beginning to set the stage for what is to come, introducing concepts and characters on which to build the rest of the story. Create tension or conflict in the middle of the story, resolving it and reinforcing the lesson in the end.

• Be creative. Use relatable characters and probable scenarios to help illustrate the concepts and/or processes that a learner needs to understand. Imagine the learner’s on-the-job experience and look for ways to create an engaging, parallel experience with your content.

• Use descriptive language. Choose phrasing that connects with the senses, describing experiences in terms of the way they look, feel, smell, sound, or taste.

• Incorporate supporting images. Nothing makes stories come alive like compelling imagery. Whenever possible, incorporate graphics, animation, or live-action visuals to better illustrate concepts and provide some visual support for what is happening in your narrative.

Regardless of the modality your training employs, consider ways you might incorporate these concepts into its construction. That’s the approach we take, looking for opportunities to inject our signature creativity into our content to engage learners and drive results.

 

Storytelling in Practice

When it comes to using storytelling in training, we’ve found that simulations lend themselves particularly well to the approach. These choose-your-own-adventure style trainings allow learners to explore different pathways and their results with no actual risk.

We recently built a pair of simulation videos for a real estate leasing company as part of a multi-modality curriculum focused on their new sales method. The videos followed the actions of a leasing agent as she worked to fill a unit in her community.

Throughout each, we created opportunities for learners to choose how to approach various points of conflict within the process. A play off of ‘Million Dollar Listing,’ the project allowed us to pull cultural references and humor into the story, making it particularly relevant to the company’s audience of leasing agents.

Want to see how we can help you take your training to the next level with creative storytelling? Connect with us today.

Building a Product Training Template

Building Product Training Template

 

Launching a new product or bringing a new sales team member on-board comes with a level of uncertainty. How will the product be received by your audience? Will a new team member be able to understand and communicate your offerings? Answering those questions is a lot simpler than you may think. In fact, there’s a pretty straightforward solution to both: a product training template.

Following the guidance of Simon Sinek’s popular TED Talk Start With Why, the product training template below aims to get to the passion behind the product first before uncovering the more obvious information surrounding it. By creating a basic product training template like this, you’ll not only have a framework that provides critical context to your team members, you’ll also have a tool that can be reused for future launches and onboardings.

1) Product Training Template Purpose (AKA the Why)

Start by providing the essential information:

  • What is the purpose of the product?
  • Why should anyone care?

2) Product Background (AKA the How)

Build from there on to what your company can offer that others can’t:

  • How does the new product work?
  • How is the new product better than what is offered by your competitors?

3) Product Basics (AKA the What)

Then lay out the big picture:

  • What is the new product?
  • What does the new product do?

It may seem counterintuitive to start with the purpose before outlining the basics behind the product, however working from the unique details to the big picture is exactly the way your sales team should approach their pitches. Clients want to know what makes your product the best option for their needs, and they want to invest in something they believe in. By training your team with a template that provides that information up front, you’re setting the stage for successful client interactions.

With that in mind, let’s explore how to put this product training template into use. Before sharing out with your team, work with leaders to complete each field and the associated questions. Refine responses into a simple, clear text to share out to the team members who will be selling the product.

Then, whether you’re conducting a group product launch or a one-off onboarding, you can walk learners through each section of the template. As you go through, share the thought process that leads to the content and prompt questions that uncover the learner’s own connection to the product and its purpose.

As shared earlier, encourage them to find their own passion and connection to the cause and be prepared to articulate that in client conversations. This is a great opportunity to create a connection with customers with a bit of personalization.

Launching a new product or training on an existing offering can seem daunting. Don’t let it be, using this product training template will help you organize your thoughts and focus on the why behind what it is you’re selling. Looking to take your sales training one step further? Check out ReadySet Sell, our foundational selling skills to help sales reps ramp up faster and ultimately win more deals.

Training Delivery Methods: Choosing the Right Modality for Your Content

Content is a huge focus in the training world, though it’s really only one part of the learning equation. The magic happens, though, when strong content is shared through the most effective training delivery methods, enabling the message to be absorbed, retained, and implemented by learners.

Whether your aim is to impart knowledge, sharpen skills, or adjust behaviors, there are a lot of different methods of training delivery to choose from. But there’s no silver bullet. In fact, data continues to prove a blended approach, incorporating more than one modality to deliver your content, increases retention by up to 60%.

So, how do you determine the most effective training delivery methods for your needs? Start by considering the options available and how they align with your goals, audience, and content.

Below is a list of our recommendations.

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Training Delivery Methods for Building Knowledge

When we speak about training for knowledge, we’re referring to helping learners understand the what and the why of a concept. To tackle these topics, the training delivery methods we recommend hinge greatly on well-organized information and storytelling. These include:

  • Podcasts
    Borrowing from the popular media format, Podcasts are an excellent way to educate team members, allowing them to absorb information at their own pace in a familiar style.
  • Infographics
    Visual tools help to reinforce concepts, and the Infographic remains a popular delivery method as it clearly outlines vital data and information in a memorable and engaging way.
  • Animations
    Another popular visual option, Animations are a great way to educate learners. By imparting critical information in an entertaining way, you can increase both retention and engagement.
  • Group Discussions
    Part team-building, part training, Guided Group Discussions are a great way to build relationships among team members while educating them on key concepts.
  • Boost
    These interactive modules from Unboxed’s Training Technology team organize key concepts in an interactive, data-based tool, making it effective for knowledge acquisition and knowledge sustainment (refresher training).

Training Delivery Methods for Improving Knowledge & Skills

Building on those, there are several modalities that bridge both knowledge and skills, helping learners to understand the how behind the what and the why. This category of modalities includes:

  • Instructor-Led Trainings (in-person or virtual)
    Instructor Led Training (ILT) or Virtual Instructor Led Training (vILT) allows you to build upon learned knowledge by giving learners a chance to put knowledge and skills into practice through classroom activities.The bonus of vILT is it allows you to reach learners near and far with training that’s as equally engaging, interactive, and effective as in-person training — without the pricey travel costs.
  • Interactive Learning Guides
    Self-paced and fully interactive, our Interactive Learning Guides (ILG) keep learners engaged at every step. With a modern, web-like interface, video, animation, gamification, and interactive exercises, ILGs create an engaging experience for learners, making them effective for both knowledge and skills training.
  • Videos
    Taking cues from what many learners engage in on their own time, training videos are an incredibly popular choice to help learners improve their skills in addition to reinforcing their knowledge.

Training Delivery Methods for Sharpening Skills & Behaviors

Moving further into training for skills, the delivery methods below allow you to focus more deeply on the tactical responsibilities of your team. These modalities also lend themselves to training for behaviors, educating learners on the action taken, and include:

  • Group Participation, Hands-On Activities, Role Plays, On-the-Floor Training, Mentor Shadowing
    Each of these training delivery methods differs in their approach but share the same goal: to allow team members to improve their skills in settings and situations where they actually use them.

Training Delivery Methods for Shaping Behaviors

Behavior-specific training goes one step further, allowing you to work with team members to help them make changes in their interactions, approaches, and performance with direct feedback. There are two modalities that are ideal for this type of training, these are:

  • Huddles
    Combining the benefits of group participation, hands-on activities, and role play along with direct coaching, Huddles are an excellent training method to help shape and improve behaviors.
  • Video Simulations
    Offering the same advantages of a Huddle, Video Simulations allow geographically dispersed teams the opportunity to observe team member behavior and coach them to be more effective in their approach.

Need Help?

We recognize there are a lot of options out there, but choosing a training method doesn’t need to be a chore. We can help you analyze and understand both your goals and content to select the best option for your needs. Reach out to schedule some time with our Training Content Strategists to learn more.

Want to know more about choosing a training method? Download our free guide!

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