Interactive Stories for Face-to-Face and Virtual Training

Storytelling is a powerful way to present the training content. However, traditional storytelling encourages the participants to become passive listeners. In contrast, the use of interactive stories encourages the participants to actively work individually or in teams to create stories, modify stories, share stories, make appropriate decisions at critical junctures in stories, debrief stories, and analyze them. Here are 17 techniques for creating and using interactive stories:

  1. Analyzed Stories. Ask the participants to listen to a story or to read it. Use techniques from the case method to encourage the participants to analyze the story, identify problems and their causes, and make appropriate decisions. Conduct a discussion with the entire group.
  2. Change the Ending. This approach enable the participants to explore the factors that can be controlled or influenced by the key people involved in the story. Present the original story with a clear ending. Ask the participants to add some additional twists and turns to the plot line and change the behaviors of the key characters. Have the participants highlight how these changes modify the outcomes of the story.
  3. Changed Settings. This approach emphasizes key factors that influence the events in the story. Present the original story and suggest some changes in the context (while keeping the character and time span the same). Ask the participants to imagine what would happen to the events in the story as a result of these changes. Ask them to rewrite the story and share the new version with each other.
  4. Co-Constructed Stories. Identify a theme, topic, or plot line. Ask a team of participants to take turns to construct a story. Each participant supplies one or two words (or sentences or paragraphs or chapters) during her turn. When the story is completed, conduct a debriefing discussion.
  5. Debriefed Stories. Ask the participants to read a story or listen to a story. After the story, ask the participants to reflect on the incidents in the story. Conduct a debriefing discussion using such topics as how they feel, what happened in the story, how the story relates to real life, what they learned from the story, and how they would use the insights from the story to their real-world situations.
  6. Dialogue. This approach increases the empathy that the participants feel toward the characters in the story. It is a modification of a roleplay in which the author takes on multiple characters and plays different roles through written dialogue.
  7. Futuristic Stories. This approach invites the participants to undertake action planning for applying newly learned principles and procedures. Ask the participants to project themselves into the future and specify a positive or negative outcome related to the use (or abuse) of what they learned. Have the participants share their utopian or
  8. POV Shift. This Rashomon approach emphasizes multiple realities and how different people see the same events from different perspectives. Present the original story in the form of a first-person narrative from the point of view of a main character. Ask the participants to rewrite the story from the points of view of different characters.
  9. Prompted Stories. Specify a theme, topic, principle, or procedure. Provide participants with a suitable prompt such as a photograph, a graphic, an opening sentence, or a closing sentence. Ask them to incorporate the prompt and come up with a story related to the specified theme.
  10. Retain the Ending, Change Everything Else. This approach emphasizes that the same outcome can be obtained through different strategies. Present the original story with a clear ending and a clear strategy used to achieve it. Ask the participants to retain the ending, the characters, and the setting. Ask them to change the behaviors of the characters and still produce the same results.
  11. Roleplayed Stories. Present a story and stop at a critical juncture. Ask teams of participants to play the roles of important characters in the story and has an appropriate conversation. After some time, continue with your narration of the story. Insert roleplay interludes at different parts of the story.
  12. Sequels and Prequels. These approaches emphasize that every action is caused by some previous action and causes some future action. Present the original story and ask the participants to write an earlier story involving the same characters and setting. Later, ask them to write a sequel to the original story. In all cases, suggest a suitable time span.
  13. Shared Stories. Ask each participant to independently create a story to illustrate a principle or procedure. Invite the participants to repeatedly pair up with one another and share their stories. Later, ask teams of participants to share the different stories they heard and analyze them to identify common themes.
  14. Shrunken Stories. Specify a theme, topic, principle, or procedure. Give examples of short-short stories, hint stories, espresso story, 99-word stories, or six-word stories. Ask the participants to write individual stories and share them in teams. Later ask each team to select the best story and share it with the entire group.
  15. Summarized Stories. Give examples of 1-minute summaries of classic novels. Ask participants to read a case study, research report, or business proposal and have them summarize it to a 1-minute presentation or 99-word narration.
  16. Unfinished Stories. Present three-fourth of a story. Ask teams of participants to complete the story, incorporating key principles and procedures.
  17. Zoom Stories. Ask participants to narrate a story at an appropriate level of detail. When you tell the narrator to zoom in, she continues narrating the story with greater number of details. When you ask the narrator to zoom out, she presents the story in broad strokes, moving away from too many details.