How Can Storytelling Help Us Learn?

...Stories help us make sense of the world around us.

From our earliest years, stories help us to make sense of the world around us. From Roald Dahl classics to fables and parables, stories possess the power to teach us valuable lessons without beating us over the head with the key takeaways. As we grow up, we continue to think in stories. As the writer Leo Widrich explains: “we think in narratives all day long, no matter if it is about buying groceries, whether we think about work or our spouse at home. We make up (short) stories in our heads for every action and conversation”.  

Ultimately, stories teach and explain things to us in an engaging way that is far more approachable than facts and figures.

Don’t just take our word for it; the psychologists agree with the storytellers on this point. In particular, organisational psychologist Peg Neuhauser has demonstrated that lessons which are wrapped up in stories have a far more lasting impact than lessons taught in a more traditional classroom fashion. Similarly, the American psychologist Jerome Bruner carried out research that revealed facts are twenty times more likely to be remembered by learners when couched in a story.  

In short, stories stick. And finding ways to make learning stick is invariably at the top of all trainer’s minds.  

But how exactly can trainers implement stories into their programmes to create learning experiences that last? And how can GiraffePad help them do this?

To answer these questions, it no doubt makes sense to visit the Harvard Business School.

Figuratively, of course.

In a whitepaper published by the business school, Vanessa Boris, the senior manager for video solutions, and Lani Peterson, a psychologist and professional storyteller, identify a range of actionable strategies that trainers can implement to create lasting learning experiences.

Titled Telling Stories: How Leaders Can Influence, Teach, And Inspire, the whitepaper reassures trainers that they don’t have to be Charles Dickens to utilise stories in their materials. Instead, “they just need to be good and honest storytellers...when leaders talk openly and candidly about their own challenges and problems, they become more relatable - and allow learners to have a vicarious, risk-free experience, learning from the mistakes of others”.

In other words, an anecdote that outlines a failing, and how to avoid it, is one which possesses the power to educate.

In order to make this kind of teaching possible, Boris and Peterson recommend the following process to trainers who want to get serious about storytelling:
Understand your audience and how to speak to them
Create a catalogue of stories from past experiences which can be used to educate others
Arrange these stories using easy to understand Powerpoint slides and other visual formats
Consider hosting forums that bring together other thought-leaders in your industry to create even more stories that can be added to your catalogue  


Altogether, this four step process provides a blueprint that trainers can easily refer to when leveraging the power of storytelling.

At GiraffePad, we’ve made it our mission to empower storytellers. From our intuitive interface to our easy to use scheduling tools, our platform makes it simple for trainers to curate and deliver narratives to learners.

Whether it’s distributing slides that tell a story, or getting everyone to gather around the virtual campfire to hear an informative tale, trainers can depend on our platform to get the word out online.

To find out more, simply get in touch today to arrange a demo at a time that suits you best.

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