I sometimes explain what I do as “business fiction writing.” This always gets a surprised look and a questioning, “What?” reaction. So I explain:
“I go into a client’s business and find out what’s challenging or difficult about the topic they want to train on. And I talk with some learners to understand what their lives are really like. Then, I go and use what I learn to write stories that become the basis for training simulations or case studies. The learners get into the story because it feels like real life and it makes the training more effective, engaging, and fun.”
Somewhere about that point, the person I’m talking with gets the idea and smiles or laughs appreciatively. I think everyone can make that connection with how stories would make learning better. They also seem to appreciate the creative approach, and they start thinking about how that might be useful for their organizations.
Ultimately, when we get people to dive into a story, they experience more benefit from training. Stories are how we make sense of the world. For training, the story provides a ready-to-use cognitive framework for organizing the approach, acquisition, and application of new knowledge and skill. If I have done my research well, the scenario presented by the story is a close match with their existing experiences. The learner sees why the skill is important, and the story becomes the “practice room” for trying out new behaviors.
While there are a lot of details, decisions, and techniques that go into this kind of writing, it’s hugely beneficial. It gets greater engagement, retention, and transfer from the learning environment to the job, and stories like this are a lot of fun for me to write.
Stories matter. If you are ever in need of a new story, give me a call!