Written by VP Legacies and Andrea Maliska

When it comes to creating eLearning content, the more engaging you can make it the better. The goal is to grasp and keep the attention of your audience, and the best way to do that is with content that tells a story.

Story-based content is simply weaving storylines into your video training to provide context for your learners. This will give the training context and relevance to the learner. If they have this context, they are much more likely to engage and stay engaged.

In this post, we’ll outline the steps needed to create successful story-based content that you can use as part of your eLearning curriculum.

Develop a story

The first step in creating story-based content is figuring out what story to tell. Think back to your school days when you would watch those cheesy videos in your classes to illustrate a point. While they were cheesy (and somewhat cringe-worthy), they grasped your attention. Why? Because it told a story. Oftentimes, someone was put in a situation with a problem that they needed to solve.

The story doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need the foundation that all stories have: a beginning, middle, and end. This will form the framework for your story and make it easier to figure out what you want to communicate with your viewers.

Create a script

Once you figure out what story you want to tell, you are now ready to write the script. Keep in mind that you need to create a script based on how long you want your video to be. Typically, when it comes to eLearning videos, the shorter the better. When you use longer videos, chances are the viewer is going to lose interest in the content. Keep the content short for better engagement.

Additionally, you may want to create a storyboard to illustrate your video. This is a great supplement to have in addition to the script as it will give your videographer and/or creative director an idea of what you want your shots to look like. It is highly recommended that you create one when you are in the pre-production stage of planning your content.

Create relatable characters

An essential component of a good story is good characters. In your pre-production process, you want to create relatable characters. These are individuals who are likely to engage with and feel a connection with the viewer.

To do this, you have to know your audience and build characters that they will identify with. If your audience is teenagers, use characters who are aged as such. If your audience is sports fans, consider using athletes as characters. Your audience is more likely to keep engaged with the content if they can relate to the characters.

Add in tension or issues that they learner has to figure out

One of the most common types of education videos is ones where the main character has to solve a problem. Think about children’s programs such as “Dora the Explorer”. The whole premise of each episode is solving a different problem. Take the same approach in your eLearning content.

Use your content to explore a real-life problem that your viewers might face. This will keep your viewers more engaged if the video addresses a common problem they have. Viewers will watch the video to know how to solve said problem, which will keep them interested in the duration of the content. In a common storytelling format, the resolution comes at the end, which works to your advantage in terms of engagement.

End with resolution

If you are addressing a problem in your story, it should naturally lead to a resolution. You want to show your viewers not only what problem they need to solve, but how to solve it. This can be as intricate as a demo or as simple as a verbal answer.

For something more technical, you may want to consider utilizing a short demo to show learners how to resolve the problem. This way, they can follow it step-by-step and turn to it if they face the same problem again in the future. For other problems, you can verbalize it, supporting it with images and graphics to further illustrate the point. Viewers will remember the images and create an association with it, to which they can use later on if they encounter the same problem.

eLearning content doesn’t have to be boring. Some of the greatest educational content—Bill Ney, Schoolhouse Rock, the Magic School Bus—is based on storytelling to demonstrate problem-solving. Take a cue from children’s educational programs and create a gripping story to keep viewers engaged. It will pay off in the long run when your viewer can remember something because you told a story around it.

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