Canada Association of Tourism Employees

How To Use Storytelling in Your Coaching To Increase Worker Engagement

Weaving Tales for New Recruiting: Tips for Using Storytelling in Online Training

When you hear “Once upon a time …” you are immediately drawn into the story. So, using storytelling in your new hire training can really improve employee engagement. When someone hears or watches a story related to their education, they are immersed in the learner’s experience and become part of the narrative.

eBook publication

How to Make Training Great: Your Checklist for Onboarding New Employees

Find out insider tips to banish boredom and increase the engagement of new employees!

Why storytelling is a powerful onboarding tool

The first day of a new job is a great story and a day new hires will never forget. You are the author of this story with experiential learning; when someone asks your new hire, “How was day 1?” They want them to share their great onboarding experience. How do you make onboarding so great that your employees want to retell the story of their entry into your company?

This part of storytelling is so important because it accompanies people throughout their tenure. Every employee’s story always has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and most people remember the beginning and the end much more vividly than the middle – that’s why training new employees is so important.

Learning cannot be done without memory and attention, and your new hires will be inundated with new information during their onboarding. We all have the ability to memorize certain facts, but the amount we can memorize varies. Additionally, new hires certainly can’t remember everything, and this is where storytelling and the use of narration can play a huge role in helping them internalize the information they need most.

In this article, we’re going to discuss why using a story-based approach to experiential learning works. We’ll look at creating business learning content that is actually fun and challenging the status quo of Death by Powerpoint.

These factors all play a role in creating great learning experiences. Powerful storytelling puts your employees in the driver’s seat of their new hire training to make online learning more engaging. Now let’s start at the beginning.

“There was once…”

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. When you watch some of the most famous Disney stories (Pixar in particular), they all follow the same story arc:

  • There was once
  • Every day
  • Until one day something happens
  • That changed something
  • Something else has changed
  • Then the adventure finally comes to an end
  • The end

This formula has been used countless times because it has proven so successful. It’s fun to think with your team about what this looks like in your corporate learning.

Think about how this story sheet template can also be used for your training for new employees. At the top of our new hire checklist is the story of why the company existed, how it was founded, whom you are helping and why you were hired for this mission.

What story do the C-Levels of your company want to tell your new employees? Should they be there (online or record a video) to share their story during the workout? It all started somewhere and this story will help inspire and motivate your new employees.

A story-telling example is when your CEO or founder is telling the “origin story” of your organization. Why did you decide to found the company, how has it grown and what the future holds is important for your new employee. While this information may have been provided during the interview, this part of storytelling is so important because it remains loyal to people throughout their tenure at your company.

Benefits of experiential learning

How does the part “everyday life” look like? We have included considerations for job-specific training in our checklist for onboarding new employees. This is where you can involve other team members to share their employee engagement stories.

This is one way to create corporate learning content that is actually fun. People love to hear firsthand about their experiences from their peers, and this dialogue is another form of interactive storytelling. Your employees are your best recruiters, brand ambassadors and advocates – their contact with your new employees will only motivate them and inspire new employees to pass it on to the next round of new employees.

When they put on this new company t-shirt, you want them to feel a sense of pride – proud of the company they joined and the work they will do – and you want them to be ready for it to brag about where they are working and why. This makes them feel like they are joining your company on a mission that is fun because that feeling will be a continuing motivator for your company throughout their careers.

No more ‘death by PowerPoint’

Instead of telling a new hire the things they need to know in a huge PowerPoint presentation, how can you wrap the same information into a story to create a learning path that they’ll follow throughout onboarding? How can you help keep their attention?

With curricula, we use quiz questions in our training content while we convey a specific concept. We offer short, digestible content that is provided in the form of animated videos or presentations. Then, following the content, we ask a question to see if the employee has listened. If you’ve actually paid attention to the story, it’s easy to answer. And since our content is fun with animated characters and graphics, staff like to watch a cartoon instead of dreaming while a presenter clicks through a long deck.

People don’t remember a bunch of slides, they aren’t computers. Avoid speaking to your co-workers as if they should memorize every word on a slide.

There are so many ways to make a story interactive. You should use slides to aid in visual storytelling, but please don’t expose yourself and your new hires to hours of deck content. With this in mind, think about this: your deck content should be used to give direction, not all possible details of what could happen.

Everything has to be referenced. It is a challenge for new hires to keep 100% of the information they receive. You can train someone perfectly, but they will still forget a lot. So it’s important to keep a list of resources online in a folder, Drive, Dropbox, or Wiki so that your new collaborators can access them.

Your new hires won’t remember everything in their training, but they’ll remember how it made them feel.


The power of storytelling makes people feel more connected, as if they are part of something bigger than themselves, whether directly or indirectly. Remember, don’t be too granular in your training because that won’t teach people new things.

Using stories should become part of your company culture to communicate new and old concepts. Start right with a strong start, because everything your employees do contributes to the success of your company.

Every employee has their own “Once upon a time …” and that starts with onboarding. They write their own story about the time they worked for your company, a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end.

We wrote the How To Make Great Training Awesome: Your New Employee Onboarding Checklist eBook so you can jump through the parts of this book to find the information you need to successfully train your new employees. Each chapter ends with key insights, and you can also attend the webinar to discuss how to incorporate storytelling into your staff training.


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