The non-fiction books I enjoy mostly have two things in common:
First, they teach well by making me curious to learn about something.
Secondly, they incorporate the power of storytelling. Miniature stories are woven into the text, gripping me as if I’m reading fiction.
Here’s an example of a story from a sales training Modlette:
Roger had served two active-duty deployments and when he was back in the real world, he decided to try sales. He started in his company’s telephone sales department where his job was to make appointments for sales reps.
After a week he confessed that he was more frightened of picking up the phone to call strangers than facing live bullets. He struggled until his supervisor explained to him that when people say no to an appointment; they’re not saying ‘no’ to you personally, they just have no need for your services at that time. Roger took some convincing but he overcame his fear and now makes his own appointments as a sales rep.
Do you imagine yourself and the fear of calling people you don’t know to ask for something for somebody else. The feelings of personal rejection when they say, “no thank you.”
This is how stories invite us into a different world.
Stories are always specific. They relate how a specific person is acting in a specific situation.
To use a miniature story to illustrate an abstract statement, ask yourself; how does this work in practice? What’s the situation in which this applies? Who’s in that situation and what are they doing.
We all live in our Bubbles.
Our sensory experience of the world feels all-encompassing.
It’s as if our experience is all there is. Yet, we experience only a tiny fraction of the world around us, and we project our own experience on to others.
We cringe when we think of our own experiences when asked to do things we are not comfortable with. But what if other people enjoy these encounters. As human beings, it’s often hard to imagine how other human beings are feeling. How their experiences lead to different world views.
Isn’t that a great opportunity for those of us who write for learning?
We can let our learners experience the worlds we want them to learn about, foster understanding, and help connect.