Storytelling LMS Presentation

Often when we talk about storytelling in learning, it’s related to e-learning. However, storytelling can be used in live presentations too. It’s much more interesting than a bunch of bullet points.

I recently gave a short presentation for a client in the early stages of selecting their first LMS. They currently do very little e-learning, although they hope to expand their offerings in the future for both internal and external learners. They manage their classroom training and webinars with spreadsheets and email, and they maintain a PDF course catalog that has to be sent to everyone every time they make a change. Their current processes aren’t very efficient, and they won’t scale well enough to meet their vision for the future.

The organization has experienced some resistance to implementing a new LMS, so one of my goals was to shift their attitudes. That’s one reason I used a storytelling approach for my presentation. The audience included a number of instructional designers, so the hero of the story is an ID—hopefully one the audience could identify with. Anna, the hero of the story, has problems similar to those faced by the IDs in this organization.

I adapted these slides to work as a standalone resource without a speaker; the original version had less text on the slides.

One quick note: I know it’s popular to bash LMSs, and I would never argue that LMSs can fix every learning problem. For example, you can’t manage informal learning, with or without an LMS. An LMS will, however, help this particular organization meet their immediate goals, and it will hopefully free up enough resources from administrative tasks to do more expansive work.

Have you ever given or attended a presentation that used this kind of storytelling approach? How effective was it? Share your experiences in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Storytelling LMS Presentation

  1. I had never considered using storytelling in my instruction, but I took a mooc through coursera.org last fall which surely enlightened me! It was a rather intense five-week course called “Digital Storytelling: A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom,” which was taught by Dr. Bernard Robin at the University of Houston (http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/). My project, which I became rather attached to before the five weeks ended, was “Understanding Credit Scores.” What an awesome way to get students interested in a dry topic! I enjoy your blog and thank you for your excellent writing and straightforward comments!

    1. That sounds like a terrific way to show students why a dry topic should matter to them. That’s one of the reasons I love storytelling. We’ve all taken boring compliance training. Oh look, another course on corporate ethics or blood borne pathogens, how exciting. But think about the drama in ethics or sexual harassment–those topics are ripe with stories and examples of what happens when things go wrong. Blood borne pathogens always seems to be taught as a straightforward “here’s what they are, here’s why they’re bad, here’s what to do” approach. Why not grab people’s attention right from the start by telling a story about someone who didn’t pay attention and might have gotten infected? Use the story to show them why it matters.

      Thanks for sharing!

    1. It doesn’t take much more time to build a presentation that tells a story than to build a traditional text-heavy presentation. This didn’t use any fancy technology; just PowerPoint. It is surprisingly simple.

        1. Very easy to do. Think about your LMS and the problems it solves though. Can you frame those financials within the context of a story to give it more meaning? It maybe doesn’t have to be quite this much of a story with fictitious characters. It could be something like, “CEO Mark has a vision for ACME widgets. His vision is that we’ll expand to 25 new locations in the next year and increase profits by $10 million. How are we going to meet that vision? We need tools to support growth and training new hires. The LMS is a key part of that growth because it’s one of the first experiences new hires have with our company. We’ve cut new hire orientation from 1 month to 2 weeks, saving $350,000 last year.” You could also tell the story of the new hire, Susan, and how the LMS has helped her be successful starting in the new company, and the experienced project manager Alex who just moved to a new position. Those could be real people in your company or just roles typical of your organization.

          Financial data is still important, especially depending on your audience. In a presentation format, it’s much more effective to do a few numbers and simple charts that highlight one or two notable items than to post a spreadsheet. If you need to share a spreadsheet, give it in a handout. Some people do need that hard data. The statistics should help you tell a story though. What’s the problem? How are you solving it? How does that data support your solution?

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