Taking Storytelling to the Next Level: Adding Interactivity

Most of you are familiar with the work that we have been doing in the area of interactive storytelling through our articles and conference sessions. We are now ready to launch a workshop based on this intriguing concept. This May, Matt Richter will be conducting our interactive storytelling workshop as a pre-conference session at the 2015 ATD International Conference and Expo. A link to the workshop is provided in the Workshops in the USA section.

Here are details about the workshop.


Storytelling is a powerful tool for trainers. Unfortunately, however, traditional storytelling encourages the participants to become passive listeners. In contrast, interactive storytelling encourages them to interact with the stories — and with each other. Different types of interactive storytelling techniques invite the participants to create their own stories and share them with each other. Even when the stories come from the facilitator, the participants modify the stories, change the beginning or the ending or the characters or the setting. They expand or shrink the stories, make decisions at critical junctures, analyze the stories, and roleplay them. The result: More engagement during the session and more learning after the session.


Facilitate interactive storytelling activities that balance creating, sharing, listening, modifying, and processing stories to understand more empathetically, learn more effectively, and apply more appropriately.


  • Identify and avoid the negative outcomes of traditional storytelling approaches while preserving the positive outcomes.
  • Facilitate a variety of storytelling techniques to increase and improve learning, application, and results.
  • Use interactive storytelling techniques to improve different steps in the instructional design and performance improvement processes.
  • Encourage the participants to work alone, with a partner, or in a team to create their own stories.
  • Design and facilitate roleplays and simulation games that engage the participants through co-created stories.
  • Conduct activities that encourage the participants to process, analyze, and modify stories in different ways to achieve different objectives.
  • Use interactive storytelling activities to improve different types of learning.
  • Use interactive stories in face-to-face and virtual classrooms.

Workshop Features

This workshop is not a one-off session. Participants are encouraged to continue acquiring and applying new principles and procedures related to interactive storytelling techniques. A hefty manual and continuously updated website support them in this continuing adventure.

The content of the workshop incorporates evidence-based principles from cognitive sciences and narratology.

The workshop walks the talk. It uses several interactive storytelling activities not only as examples but also as an integral part of the training approach. It practices what it preaches.

Application is the focus of the workshop. The participants are required (and rewarded) to work alone, with a partner, and in teams to apply interactive storytelling techniques to their own training needs and constraints.

Content Outline

From trainer-centered storytelling to participant-centered interaction. Advantages and disadvantages of traditional storytelling. The dangers of passive listening. Interactive storytelling: key features and different types.

Managing the shift to interactive storytelling. Encouraging the participants to create and share their own stories and modify other people’s stories. Using suitable prompts. Ensuring relevance and authenticity.

Types of interactive storytelling techniques. Co-creating and sharing stories. Incorporating stories in roleplays and simulation games. Rewriting stories. Compressing and expanding stories. Debriefing the vicarious experiences in a story.

Using interactive storytelling in performance-improvement process. Analysis through storytelling. Identifying needs and gaps. Stories for design and delivery. Using success case method as an evaluation technique. Action planning through future stories.

Using interactive storytelling for different purposes. Mastering principles and procedures. Encouraging application. Persuasion and attitude change. Exploring interpersonal concepts.

Using interactive storytelling in different contexts. Storytelling in instructor-led training. Storytelling in virtual classrooms. Storytelling for elearning.