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Our Story Driven Brain

Stories are a powerful way to communicate the connection between people and ideas. This is critical in a learning environment to influence, motivate, and teach others. They allow learners to step inside a character’s shoes, convey complex and ambiguous ideas, and allow learners to think critically about the circumstances. Stories also give multiple entry points around what are the actions, feelings, results; allowing for any learner to connect in some way with the narrative being told.

Stories are an ancient device humans have used for thousands of years to convey messages, moral tales, and more. You can find several stories that have the same core meaning with a different title that span across continents. They come in many different forms, some are oral in tradition, some are written, some are illustrated, but whatever form they are designed to teach us something.

The Importance of Storytelling in Learning When designing a learning experience, we are essentially designing how we will communicate this information to a learner in order for them to do something with it; whether it is merely a fact, a figure, a process, or a behavior. Our goal is to effectively and efficiently influence our target audience. Providing only the information does not help facilitate change in someone’s knowledge, behavior, or belief. Stories build familiarity and trust that can help learners build connections with ideas and even strangers.

How to tell a Story Take a moment to think about a story that you tend to recall often. For me, it is a Sunday morning drive in a car packed with family from Greenpoint, Brooklyn out to the cemeteries to visit our deceased relatives, saying hello with flowers, having discussions with them, and sometimes lunch. This story tends to keep me in the moment, to enjoy the time I have with others, and continue a tradition to honor the dead as if they are living. I share this because a well-told story is remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than simply stating facts or figures. If I had started to list out all the relatives we visited rather than what we did at the cemetery your eyes might’ve rolled.

Our Mind’s Theater The fun of stories is the opportunity we are given to imagine the story. When processing the words on a page, or visuals, we enter what is happening in the story; see the environment described, feel what the characters feel, and begin to live in this fictional world.

  • Build Context: Data and numbers can be important, but people need context in order to understand what these things actually mean and how they relate to other concepts.
  • Create Visuals: This doesn’t necessarily mean creating illustration or graphics, but rather the “show, not tell” advice. Set a vivid scene to help learners process concepts faster by keeping them engaged.
  • Aha! Moments: Design for a learning solution that helps learners analyze and think critically about a story to generate insights. This can be done with social opportunities, simulations, and even a journaling process.

Every organization and person has a story to share and in doing so can motivate them to action. Montage believes in helping you discover and design stories that create a great learning experience for your employees.