Stories are an excellent tool to get across important information in an interesting and memorable way. A story will typically have a structure – a beginning, middle and end – and it allows the trainer to impart information without being didactic or overly persuasive.
Of course stories, in particular those which happened to you, are easy to remember for the trainer. However, they are also very beneficial to the participants as they create emotion in the room. Feelings of happiness, sadness, disappointment, optimism and anticipation can all be circulated in a single story. The reason this is so vital is that emotions stimulate motion; you are more likely to get people motivated to change – one of the underlying purposes of business training.
Here are a variety of points in training when stories may be appropriate:
- At the beginning of training: this will evoke curiosity and set the tone. It will make the group think and it creates a theme
- To clarify faces and data and add evidence to what you are saying: using stories in this way will support and emphasise the content of the theory, it will make complicated ideas simpler to understand and is much more entertaining
- If you need to establish credibility: A new audience may take some convincing that you can teach them anything. Select a story that demonstrates you can do what you are teaching
- Build connection with the audience: A story will demonstrate that you can identify with the audience and this will help build rapport. If it comes from personal experience too, it will help break down barriers and gain their empathy and trust
- To be persuasive: People find it easier to accept ideas when they are presented in a story form rather than factual data. For example, advertising uses storytelling prolifically in an attempt to get you to buy the product
- To challenge the individual or group: Stories are useful tools to challenge the limiting beliefs that individuals or groups hold. By doing so they are able to realise the beliefs that are stopping them moving on
- To demonstrate how to do or not to do something: A story can bring the subject alive and help to convince an audience it is possible. They help embed best practice. Encourage participants to share their own stories if possible
- At the end of training: Use a story to link to the final message and to action back in the workplace
Do you use stories in your business training? Do you have a good one to share…?