Making Facts Relevant

Stories make for very effective learning, sure, but how do you practice using them?

My dad asked me, in his effort to track down the perfect cast iron skillet, if a lid was truly necessary.

Fact: Yes, for most food, but here’s a long list of exceptions.

What I told him: Yes, if you ever want to make fritattas.

Knowing my audience was essential for me to make the fact relevant to him. Startled, he quickly dismissed the purchasing options that were lidless as life without frittatas, are, well, not worth living.

A team asked me to discuss workflow efficiency, and I came to the topic of decision fatigue.

Fact: We only have so much capacity for decisions, and the later the hour, the harder it is for us to make them.

What I told them: We perform super mom heroics by getting our kids well dressed, fed, and to school, dash into the office for a grueling day of being overwhelmed, leave a meeting early because the babysitter can’t pick up the kids at school this time, try and make up for time by grappling with a sagging inbox when you’re home, make sure the kids are doing homework, and then realise dinner is a requirement. Suddenly, the decision between roast chicken and baked chicken is an overwhelming decision and you are in tears.

Having a room full of mom’s took this fact and engraved it into their heads. No argument was made, and pens stood ready to take notes on my recommendations on how to minimize decision fatigue.

My eight year old daughter asked me why we cut the plastic holders of soda cans before rubbishing.

Fact: when uncut, animals get caught in them at rubbish dumps and it can maim them at the very least, and often kill them.

What I told her: when uncut, animals get caught in them at rubbish dumps and it can maim them at the very least, and often kill them.

What is it about kids that we assume kids are just a sponge for boring facts? Her reaction, was, as expected, horrified, but it didn’t stick. Of course it didn’t! It was just a fact.

What I told her the second time we discussed: *showed her picture below and asked her what was around the turtle*

Tears welled up in her eyes and she has been nearly tyrannical about ensuring those plastic soda can holders get cut, checking for them each time she empties the rubbish into the big bins.

So how do we practice using stories? Take that fact you are sharing, and send it to their hearts.

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.