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Three Takeaways from Rance Greene’s Vyond Masterclass for L&D Instructional Designers

Recently, Rance Greene, storytelling expert and author of Instructional Story Design, teamed up with Vyond to create a video masterclass on how instructional designers can create story-based training and why they should do it. 

As a longtime user of Vyond’s video animation software, Rance decided it would be fun and instructive if he created a movie that both highlighted many of the storytelling effects Vyond’s software makes possible–and shared his most useful strategies for integrating storytelling into common L&D eLearning formats. 

To bring his big idea to life, Rance joined forces with Taylor Morgan, an expert video producer here at Vyond. The end result was a one-of-a-kind masterclass experience called The Mysterious Disappearance of Stories that multiple participants have told us was one of the most memorable and effective presentations they’d ever seen.


Watch the Storytelling Masterclass


We highly recommend you watch the whole thing (maybe during a lunch break, or on your phone during your commute). But in the meantime, here are a few selected takeaways from Rance Greene’s masterclass:

1. Storytelling in instructional design is proven to boost engagement and retention


The London School of Economics found that when an audience is presented with information using a story, they retain 65% of the information. Take the story away, and they’ll remember a mere 5%. 

As Rance elaborated in his presentation, two of the reasons stories engage us are because they encourage critical thinking and help demonstrate the relationship between isolated facts, in a way that helps us to remember them for a long time.

“Stories are hugely important in our lives – shouldn’t they be important in eLearning too?” – Rance Greene


2. To create stories that motivate your audience, get to know them a little first

Bridging the gap between story and action are two essential elements: conflict and relatable characters. But for these elements to work convincingly and effectively, you need an in-depth understanding of your learners (the audience) to effectively elicit their empathy and sympathy for the characters in the story. 

To get to know your audience, Rance suggests meeting with a few representative members of that audience and asking questions like: 

  1. What do you value?
  2. What are your current circumstances at work?
  3. How are you reacting to those circumstances?
  4. What do you fear?
  5. What do you do in your spare time?


3. Help subject matter experts get beyond “being aware”

Helping learners be aware of–and understand–important ideas is not automatically going to yield action on their part. This is often where subject matter experts start, but you can help them get beyond “understanding,” “being aware of,” or “avoiding,” and drill down to observable actions. 

Instruction is implemented by your learners in real-world situations. So the story for instruction you design should be centered around driving changes in behavior (which are observable). 

For example, if you’re creating a manager course meant to increase empathy and understanding between managers and their employees, don’t stop at telling them to “be aware of employee situations” or “understand where your employee is coming from” and call it a day. 

Ask the subject matter expert, “What does someone who understands where their employee is coming from actually do?” Help the subject matter expert unearth observable actions, like “Schedule a meeting,” “Ask the employee what’s working well for them and what’s challenging for them,” and “Listen to their side of the story.” Record these observable actions and construct an action list. These are the actions learners should be able to practice within the course and continue to do after the course. 


Watch the Storytelling Masterclass


We hope these takeaways from Rance Greene’s Masterclass are helpful in developing highly engaging and effective L&D courses. Also, If you watched the masterclass, were inspired by the video’s imaginative production (created with Vyond!), and want to learn more about Rance and Taylor’s creative process, check out this behind-the-scenes story of the making of The Mysterious Disappearance of Stories.


To see how using Vyond can help you meet your communications goals, sign up for our 14-day free trial.

For more inspiration and step-by-step video production guides, check out the Vyond Producers Hub.