Using Storytelling For Compliance: Why Storytelling Is At The Heart Of Great Compliance Training

Using Storytelling For Compliance: Why Storytelling Is At The Heart Of Great Compliance Training
Zeynep Demir/
Summary: A storytelling approach makes sense for learning of any kind, but it's particularly effective when you need to make data and complex information meaningful and relevant to your audience. Learning facts is difficult, but assimilating a story is something that comes naturally to most of us. Read how using storytelling for compliance training helps compliance learners not only absorb information, but also change their behaviors.

Why Using Storytelling For Compliance Is Effective

If you reach into the depths of your memory, chances are that the first words you remember from childhood are “Once upon a time…”. You loved a great story back then; you probably still do!

And that’s why storytelling is such a vital component of any eLearning program that we develop at Interactive Services. A story taps into something very primal - the promise of a narrative that will reward us simply for listening.

The attention span of the learner is assailed on all sides, from text messages or email to TV; whatever may be happening right then in the life of the learner. So to demand attention, the “hook” of a great story is extremely powerful.

What Sort Of Stories Work Best? 4 Tips On How To Use Storytelling For Compliance

  1. A starting point to developing a story is to make it realistic to your audience.
    Develop a main character who belongs in the world of the learner, and give him/her a background, a problem to solve, and a positive outcome.
    For example, for an Insider Trading eLearning course, create an everyman character – it could be you or me – who has no intent to breach compliance rules, but who may trip up due to lack of knowledge, or lack of care.
  2. In filling out the details of the story, keep it conversational.
    Write as you would speak, keeping it as informal as possible. Remember, too, that you can localize your stories, placing them in a context that will be most recognizable to the learner.
    For example, you could set your Insider Trading story in a pharmaceutical firm, but don’t assume that everyone will know all the complex medical jargon and language used by the Pharma industry.
  3. Another key to successful storytelling is to keep the story short.
    You need to do this particularly when it comes to eLearning, when there are so many other demands on the learner’s time. The moral or learning point of the story can be just as powerful if you keep it brief.
    For example, in our Insider Trading example, present a dilemma and give the learner a choice of actions. You don’t need a lengthy preamble. It’s enough to say “You meet a friend who tells you his firm is about to acquire a competitor…” and get straight into the story.
  4. Make sure the story has a beginning, middle, and an end.
    Typically, this will involve the hero/heroine being faced with a challenge, teasing out how best to address the problem, then implementing the action needed to solve the problem - and creating a better reality in the process.
    For example, the consequences of a breach of Insider Trading rules can be severe. So make sure you leave enough time to outline the outcomes. And try to finish on a positive. Focus on the disaster averted rather than the crime discovered.

Finally, remember that using storytelling for compliance is a powerful method of getting the compliance learner to change behavior rather than simply absorbing information. A great story can motivate, encourage, and inspire – leading to a new way of thinking and a new way of behaving.