The Next Box Office Hit? Your Training.

October 26, 2011

The Age of Story

Many suggest we live in the Age of Content Creation, but Bobette Buster, a world-renowned lecturer and consultant for Hollywood bigwigs at the likes of Pixar and 20th Century Fox, would argue we live in the Age of Story. The supporting evidence is everywhere.

Stories are the way we get people to listen to our ideas and invest in what we create. They’re how speakers engage their audience, lawyers convince a jury, and politicians compel their electorate. As author and serial entrepreneur Jonathan Fields points out, they’re how leading companies market their products and services and promote their brands. Whether you’re a scientist or a college student, a banker or an HR manager, it’s becoming increasingly important in our global society and economy to effectively communicate who you are, what you do, and why you’re important.  As Buster concludes in her lecture, The Arc of Storytelling, in our culture, whoever tells the best story wins.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the movie business.  Entertainment (movies, music, video games, etc.) contributes $180 billion to the U.S. economy annually.  The U.S./Canada market alone represents one-third of the worldwide box office. But despite demand, only about 1% of movies produced each year succeed, and even fewer top the box office charts. That means the winners win big. Why? They tell the best stories, of course, but something makes their stories worth millions more….

The Best Story

After 80 years of consumer testing, Buster relates that we finally know what audiences want in a movie. Take a look at the top 25 domestic box office films in 2010. Do you see the commonality? All told stories of characters who, in her words, “faced a fear, overcame it, and discovered the courage to become fully alive or the living dead.” In other words, they all told stories of transformationgood and bad. And that’s something to which we all personally relate on an emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual level.

Think about it. As an audience, we don’t just see and hear stories. We process them. We are constantly internalizing what we see and hear and relating it to our own lives. As characters experience transformation before our eyes we realize our best and worst selves. As Fields notes, in the story’s resolution, we find our own resolution.  That’s why stories of transformation win us over at retail, in the courtroom, and on the political trail.

Telling Ain’t Training…But Storytelling Is

We’re willing to bet stories of transformation will win in the online classroom, too. As far as audiences go, your employees are no different from your customers in this regard. To get their attention and achieve buy-in, an information download simply won’t do. Effective training, no matter the medium, takes the learner through a process of self-awareness and surprising discovery. Easier said than done. Creating great narratives that produce epiphanies involves a particular talent.

The team at Unboxed specializes in actively listening to clients and their employees to understand who they are, the challenges they face, and what they must do to succeed in their role. Then we create fun, witty interactive video simulations to bring these stories to life for the learner. Our characters meet learners wherever they are in their own story and show them how to succeed. The interactive simulation is a part of our blended learning approach, which incorporates all three learning modalsaudio, visual, and kinestheticto create maximum comprehension and retention. The funny witticisms are a part of our proprietary Unboxed approach, which incorporates a combination of humor, creativity, and surprise to generate maximum enjoyment and satisfaction.

The Moral of the Story?

Training is transformationfrom new hire to skilled associate, from store manager to vice president. Don’t make your story Horrible Bosses. Give your training a happy ending with Unboxed. When your team succeeds personally and professionally, you’ll have a box office hit your customers will applaud. For an instructional playwright send us a note or give us a call at 804.888.6222.


About the Author

Dave Romero is our CPO. His limitless energy and sense of urgency establish our company-wide momentum and commitment to get our clients what they need, when they need it.


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