Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Characters, Challenges and Cliff-hangers: What Toy Story 3 can teach us about learning

Did you see the movie? I double-dog dare you to tell everyone you did not get a lump in your throat as Andy prepared to leave home, or when the toys faced an uncertain future near the end. Those moments are examples of great storytelling.

Creative writing is a major part of great storytelling, like peas and carrots, hands and gloves. Think about the last training material you created.

Do you enjoy reading it? Did it tell a good story? Does it move you, or change the way you feel about a particular topic? Would you want to sit through it again – just for fun?

People respond to challenges with a combination of emotion, physical responses, and intellectual capacity. Yet most courses often only appeal to our cognitive, rational side. That’s a big mistake many corporations make. (shhh… “emotional” sounds so…“unprofessional"!)

Wrong! If you truly want to create more meaningful learning, you need to appeal to your audience’s fundamental humanity: their emotions.

By creating characters, challenges and cliff-hangers that spark a true emotional response, you keep them focused on opportunities coming from within the learning, and not the sports updates on their Blackberry.

Advertisers, movie producers, and great sales people learned years ago that the best way to engage the brain is through the heart. Ditto learning and employee development.

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