You need your audiences to become advocates – quickly. Whether you're on-boarding a new hire, courting a client, or partnering with a vendor, you don’t have time to be a broken record.
So, you create engaging stories and beautiful materials to get your message across.
But something just doesn’t click.
You end up repeating yourself, and still, your audiences don’t seem to understand or care.
More often than not, the messaging doesn’t align with how your audience learns.
The Importance of Blending Instructional Design with Storytelling
"Tell a good story." "Storytelling makes people care." That’s true, to a point. Storytelling is what makes customers and employees interested what you have to say. It’s how they can see themselves in your brand.
But storytelling without any elements of instructional design or educational strategy is just that – a good story.
Your story may hook your audience and cause them to care in the moment, but will it stick with them? Will your story alone drive them to action? Not if they can’t remember it. And that is where instructional design comes in.
By adding elements of instructional design into your storytelling, you engage the memory centers of the brain.
Here are 3 simple ways to blend instructional design with your storytelling and make your content effective for the long haul:
1. Don’t Treat Your Audience Like a Kid – Unless They Are One
It’s easy to default to PowerPoint presentations and lectures because that’s how we were taught in school. The only problem is that’s not how most adults actually learn.
With age comes more experience and a lower tolerance for learning for learning’s sake.
Adults are more invested when content:
Children are more invested when content:
2. Speak, Show, and Demo
“I’m a visual learner!” “I just have to do it to learn it.” “Tell me more.” You’ve likely heard that people are either auditory, visual, or kinesthetic (learning by doing) learners, and that you need to provide information in a format that works for their learning style.
However, according to the Current Health Sciences Journal, “There is no evidence that teaching according to the learning style can help a person, yet this cannot be ignored.”
When someone says they have a learning style, they’re telling you they have a preference. Don’t ignore this preference, but understand it may change depending on a variety of factors.
For example, we once had a client who claimed to be an auditory learner because audiobooks and podcasts were her first choice for consuming content. However, we discovered that she only tuned-in when she had the time to listen without distraction (usually while on a plane or in the car).
When she was in the office with only a few minutes here or there to spare, she opted for quick text-based articles that she could scan for the key points. She was able to engage with and remember written content just as well as she did audio-only formats. Therefore, being an auditory learner was more a reflection of preference than capability.
With that in mind, you can maximize the effectiveness of your messaging by presenting it in a variety of formats.
Better yet, use a format that engages your audience’s ears, eyes, hands, and brain. For example, try interactive demonstrations, videos with captions, or games.
3. Expect and Embrace the Unicorns
What works for the majority may not work for every individual. And that individual may be the key to your success. Don’t dismiss them as an outlier. Instead, interview them and follow up with a more customized solution.
Perhaps that potential client who you assumed had ignored your detailed proposal gets easily frustrated by too much text due to a lack of time or an impairment/condition (which they may or may not disclose). Ask them for their preference, modify your content to meet their needs, and then follow up.
Or, let’s say you hire a 16-year-old who doesn’t seem to pay attention during training. Is your employee an honors student? If so, they may learn more like an adult. Let them try the job first then coach them as they go.
What works for the majority may not work for every individual. And that individual may be the key to your success.