According to this article, storytelling will be the number 1 business skill of the next five years. I don’t know that I’d make it the number 1 skill, but it’s definitely higher than most people think. When it comes to training, storytelling is a huge part of being successful.
The dirty little secret of training, especially in the technology sector, is that much of what we have to teach people is dry and boring. The mechanics of using technology, just isn’t that exciting. Think about the first time you used email for example. The mechanics of clicking “New Message”, finding the address to send it to, typing up your message, learning how to attach files to it, and finally sending it are boring. The exciting part of that technology was not in the how you construct an email, it was in what that technology allowed you to do that you couldn’t before, send an electronic letter to someone half the world away in a matter of seconds!
I often remind myself that as much as I am here to show my students how to use our technology, I’m also here to help them understand why they would use it. It’s one thing to talk about how to use a feature in our platform, it’s quite another to show them how to use it, and drive that knowledge home with a story about how they would put it to use in an everyday situation. I find myself drawing on the time I spent working in law firms frequently, looking back on cases I worked with, data I had to wrangle into a review tool for attorneys, searches we had to conduct, oddities we found, ways we dealt with ediscovery burdens and so on, and then looking at our current technology and thinking about how it would have applied in those cases, how it would have made things easier.
It’s those stories that get people thinking not about the dry technical details of what they are learning, but the possibilities for how they could use the technology. If I can get my students thinking in those terms, they are now engaged in learning how to accomplish those things, instead of only learning the boring details.