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Become an IDOL 82: Storytelling for Instructional Design

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Guest: Theresa Francomacaro 

In this episode, I am chatting with Theresa Francomacaro, the owner of Why Story Works. She helps others who want to get unstuck, sell their ideas, clarify their message and attract more clients. Tune in to hear her three golden rules for storytelling and so much more. You will feel Theresa's energy in this episode! 

Listen to this episode below: 


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Enjoy the Episode Transcript below:   

Robin Sargent  I have here with me today, Theresa Francomacaro, and she is the founder of Why Story Works and she focuses specifically on instructional design story telling, but Theresa do you do a better job of introducing yourself and telling us who you are and what it is that you do?

Theresa Francomacaro  Absolutely. Thank you so much, Dr. Robin. And thank you for inviting me to be on your IDOL podcast. I am a storyteller, I help people put their best stories to work, so that they can live in work on point and on purpose. So storytelling is an art and the great news is storytelling can be taught. So I've spent my life helping people tell the right story at the right time to the right audience to get the right results.

Robin Sargent  That's a wonderful summary. And I just need to I always ask every guest that I have, like, where did you start out? How did you get into instructional design specifically? And so were you ever an instructional designer? Do you ever make a transition to that career? Or did you just kind of find it as you were creating stories?

Theresa Francomacaro Absolutely. Well, of course, I've got a story about it, don't you know? So I was six years old and I found myself on the stage, telling the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears as the narrator of our puppet show and I was chosen by our first grade teacher because I had the biggest mouth. What happened was the story's going sideways, and I jump in there and I say, Ah, excuse me, she meant to say, and then the story kind of got back on track. So it was at that point that I knew I was a storyteller. So fast forward, I got a master's degree in performance from NYU, I had my own theatre company for a while, I wrote my first play that ran for five years. And then I've always been in sales, you know. So as those of us in the performing arts know, you've got to have a side hustle. So I've always been selling something. And that led me to corporate training, because everybody needs to learn how to sell something in a way that's going to activate what we call the CTA, or the call to action. So about 20 years I spent in adult learning, I've got a certification in adult learning. I'm a certified Dale Carnegie instructor. Like I said, I have a master's degree in performance from NYU and an undergrad in theater from TSU. So I love it. I love stories. And I love sales. And I love helping people activate emotions to drive results, because we all know as learners, we've got to get them to do something. Right. So what's the point of all this training if you're not going to get some type of behavior change because dreams without actions can turn into nightmares of regret and we don't want that with our training.

Robin Sargent  Yeah. And so when did you start really just focusing on this piece of it, which is storytelling in instructional design, because that's very interesting. I definitely see all the transferable skills from theater and sales, to learning. And so I'm just wondering, like, when did you focus on?

Theresa Francomacaro  Yeah, great question. So it was about five years ago, I was working for a fortune 500 company, I was doing customer service training at that point, and helping activate a team of learners that maybe had a very low job approval rating. And it was really tough. And we heard that the whole team was getting outsourced and sent to the corporate US headquarters back East. And so it was at that point, I'm like, Hey, why don't I strike out on my own, I was always already doing vendor trainings for certain partners like Dale Carnegie, and I said, Hey, let's get to it. So I started, why story works and I got going on doing instructional design for vendor partners, as well as why story works. And then of course, you know, three years ago, the pandemic hit, and so I had to do a huge pivot, because you have to pivot or perish. And so that's when I really got into more of the online training and more of the videos and more of the one on one executive coaching than I do in addition to group trainings.

Robin Sargent  Well, I have done a very good job of holding back because all I really want to ask you to do is to get to this part, which is tell me more about how you connect story to neuroscience because I am fascinated with what you have to say about that and what kind of connections you can make for those listening.

Theresa Francomacaro  Absolutely. So we all know there's there are so many resources out there and storytelling is definitely having a moment right now and If you Google storytelling, you can see a zillion books. And so I got really fascinated with this and I, I've been reading a lot with John Medina's book, his seminal book Brain Rules where he says the brain does not pay attention to boring things. I'm sure you know that book. And I also was delving into Dr. Zacks work on what motivates behaviors, as well as JP Phillips in his in his podcast, Angels and Demons, the idea about how we can move through and find ways to activate learners. And so being in the theater, I've know that we're always searching for what we call the motivation of the scene, or what's my MacGuffin? And when we think about a MacGuffin, it's basically the desire or what does the main character want? That's the idea in storytelling. So in training, you have to think about where's my learner now? And what do they need to hear? In other words, what do we want them to think, feel and or do differently as a result of this training. So that's when I came up with this idea of, if you don't want your audience to flee, F, L, L, E, A, you need to activate what I call the five neuro chemicals inherent any good story. So you want to know what they are?

Robin Sargent Of course I do. I'm ready. I'm taking notes.

Theresa Francomacaro  So here we go. The first one is fear. So think about fear. It's when we experience fear, we get a release of cortisol, and that's that fight, flight, flee or freeze mentality. So if you know your learner is experiencing fear, you need to activate some stories that are going to reduce that cortisol, or let's imagine your learner is having a hard time focusing. They're like all over the place. You know, shiny object syndrome, you need to slow down and get that learner to focus, because cortisol also helps your learner focus. So that's the first one fear, release cortisol. What are we doing with this cortisol because fear is not always a bad thing. So that's, that's one.

Theresa Francomacaro  Number two love. So think about it, love. That's the release of dopamine. So the thing about dopamine, it's a neurochemical response, it only stays in the body for about 90 seconds. So you know, marketers know that dopamine is a powerful response, right? That's why they get you to fall in love. And that's why you'll find yourself on your phone scrolling through like, like, like, like, right. For your audience, if you know, let's say you got a new hire, and she or he is worried about where they're coming from, or is this the right choice I made? Maybe you should start your training with some love stories about the company and about what they can love about what they're doing there. I mean, I don't know about you, Dr. Robin. But how many times have you seen an onboarding program and they start with the company history, right? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It's like, snore fest, right? Who cares? You know, you got to get your audience activated, and you need to do it soon. So you could tell some love stories and keep sprinkling them in like little breadcrumbs so that your audience can stay engaged. So that's love dopamine.

Theresa Francomacaro  The third nor chemical response inherent in any good story is long or the release of serotonin. It's how I feel after I eat a big bowl of pasta. It's that, Oh, I'm so chill, right? So I'm reminded of let's say, what happened with the pandemic, and everybody was stressed and anxious and nobody was feeling calm. So if you know there is this influx of stress, and people are really anxious, you need to calm down and let your learner rest for a bit. Maybe you do some think writing activities, or maybe you do some silence, or maybe you put on some really soothing music. So that's the serotonin release.

Theresa Francomacaro  The fourth neurochemical inherent and good story is what we call the oxytocin or the mirroring or that empathy hormone and empathy is huge, huge, huge. And everyone knows that oxytocin is released. It's like, you know, Mother's Day is coming up, right? So when the mom is nursing the baby, you know, the oxytocin and the baby sees the mom and they get me right. So if you know your learner is feeling out of sorts, or they want somebody to understand them, everybody is longing for understanding. You want to sprinkle in some stories that are going to release oxytocin or that mirroring chemical so that the audience feels all and get me. I'm not alone. This is okay.

Theresa Francomacaro  And then last, and certainly not least, is up John. So this is the release of what we call adrenaline. So, you know, many times when, let's say I'm doing a sales training, or you'll see VPs of sales as they do their, you know, their sales roundup at the end, you're always gonna see them leave with a big strong call to action or go forth and conquer, right? So that's your adrenaline that's kicking in there. So, again, you want to get them to act. So you think through your your training modules, and you say to yourself, hmm, where's my learner now? And what story do they need or what do I need to do right now inside of my instructional design, to activate one or all of those fear, love, longing, empathy, and action hormones, cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and adrenaline. So that's my short answer for how to activate your learner and how to do instructional design, using the five neurological responses inherent in any good story.

Robin Sargent  Okay so now you already said, this is very good. So you've already said that you can use one or all of them. And it's kind of based on where your learner is? Yes, not really, necessarily that you want to trigger all of these things throughout the entire course, in any type of order. It's more about where are they? What do they need? What do they need at this moment?

Theresa Francomacaro  Yes and the more you can activate, at any given time, the more your audience in the amygdala is going to go, Whoa, you know, you got to remember that a story lesson, when I just say, once upon a time, your brain is like, ooh, once upon a time, oh, I can kick back I can relax just a storytime.

So again, you got to think about where is your audience? And what do they need. And maybe you need to throw in a story that starts with a little serotonin and chill that then moves to a call to action. Right? You just really have to think through what is the best story at this time, and it can't be about you, it's got to be about your audience.

Robin Sargent  So when you are unpacking this, for people who are learning how to activate these different things, um, is there any kind of combination? Is it more about like you said, more combinations can create more of a experience for your listeners? Is there any kind of combination that you don't advise, or that you've seen? Like, this one works really well? Or Absolutely, just like what's like the practical call to action? I want to include more, I want to include the fleas, if you will, in my in my training, and so what do I do? I can just pick any one of these? Yeah, tell me.

Theresa Francomacaro  So Dr. Robin, what you need to understand is that, as trainers as l&d professionals, we need to have an arsenal of stories that are ready to go at any moment, depending on what's happening in our training. So for example, I'll tell you a quick little story. I was doing a customer service training for a group of folks in healthcare, and they were stressed, I mean, imagine, right, and then middle of health care during the pandemic, and everyone's calling and screaming, like, get going. And all of a sudden, somebody in the audience starts saying, Well, you know, because I gave them intentional preparation for the night before. And you know, I'm asking them, and we're doing a debrief, and somebody starts throwing one of the employees under the bus and I'm like, Oh, my God, this, this, this training is going sideways, fast, right? Has that ever happened to you, right, but it's getting hijacked by some other things that are not part of the agenda. I'm like, Oh, I could sit here and I could, you know, push through my agenda or I could stop. I could tell a story. I could stop and let them have a conversation. So you have to have enough stories in your arsenal around those five topics fear, love, longing, empathy, and action, and practice them and no one to help them out when your audience needs it. So what I help people do is put them in a category. So where are your fear stories? Where are your love stories? Where are your serotonin stories? What are your calming stories? Where are your empathy stories? Where are your action stories, and then design your training around it and then be able to at a moment's notice to pop that story in? If need be? 

Robin Sargent  I think most people will probably be like, Okay, I can come with a love story along in one empathy. I can get that action now and seems really easy. What about your story? Could you give me an example of what a fear story looks like?

Theresa Francomacaro  Oh, well, yeah. Well, I say there are three golden rules to story. Be Real, Be relevant, Be brief. I also teach people how to tell a story in two minutes or less, and we can get to that in a moment. But in order to answer your question, I'm going to make it real relevant and brief. This week, I was having a touch base with my administrative assistant. And I'm like, you know, we really got to update the website, we got to get more real content and LinkedIn pages is not showing. And our YouTube channel really just needs to have more active content. And I'm going down the list, right? And I'm like, in theory, and my administrative assistant in great, who's amazing. She says, Well, what are you doing right now? And I'm like, I don't know. She was, like, come on over. And we record some good stuff right now. And the fear part of me is like, No, we're not doing it. I'm not ready, I can't do it. And I pushed through that fear, I came outside my comfort zone, and she came over to my house, she was there within an hour. And after four hours of spending time together, we had some real new, relevant content and stay tuned some of your audience by the time this airs, we'll see some of it, we're doing a whole Mother's Day podcast or video series. So that is an example of how fear can stop you. Right? You have to push through your fear and get to it and start acting. I was all over the place, my focus was gone. My administrative assistant landed me and helped me get real and push through that fear. So that is a simple example. And that is an ability to have those storytelling moments ingrained in my brain because I'm trained to do it, I think, and I see them all the time. You know, so many times people say to me, and what's resale? How many stories and I don't think in the back in the rear view. I'm always forward thinking I have a growth mindset. I'm like, Yeah, of course you did. Everybody's got stories. It's just a muscle. It's just a discipline, when we train ourselves to see them. And then we know that that's a story worthy moment. There's there's a great book by Matthew Dix called Story Worthy. I'm reading that now. And he talks about every night, go at the end of the day, jot down one, two or three story worthy moments and jot down a couple little patch images to help you remember them. And then you'll have a treasure trove of stories ready to go.

Robin Sargent  What a great way to journal too. Just capture a little stories that happened in the day.

Theresa Francomacaro  Anything can be a story. So for example, I do a lot of work with toys, I must have 250 toys and a toy chest. I'll put a toy out there. And sometimes people get stuck right there. Like, I don't know what to say, like, I could throw this pen up here. And I could say, how is your life right now like this pen? Then look, oh, you know, and all of a sudden, they've got a story around it. Because the brain loves stories. We were born natural storytellers. We've just forgotten. So I help people refine and retune and mine those golden nuggets that are there and put them to work, right? It's not enough to have a story. You got to know how to work that story and when to update that story. It's like I say, You got to have a story wardrobe. Right. You know, years ago, I used to sell cosmetics, and they would talk about mascara wardrobing. Have you ever heard of that phrase? You're probably like, What are you talking about?

Robin Sargent  I do have several mascaras. So I think I might have a mascara wardrobe.

Theresa Francomacaro   So listen, structural designers, we have to have a story wardrobe. And we have to be able to update our stories and make them real and relevant and brief. So I was listening to one of your most recent podcasts with Ethan about mind. Mind. Yeah, yeah, that's fascinating. I'm doing so much work and reading right now on chat GPT and AI and how that affects the l&d space and what we do. And you know, there's this big fear that we're going to become irrelevant, right? Just let the robot do it, right. Just plug it into AI or mind shift. And there you go. There's your content. And I challenge that notion, because the only thing that's going to differentiate us is our stories. The story is a differentiator. That's it. It's our secret sauce. It's the only thing we have that the robot can't duplicate. So, again, I'm going to tell you a zillion stories, and you just have to stop me. I remember I joined this Noom, I don't know years ago, you know, Noom.

Robin Sargent  I love Noom it's such an example of instructional design too, but I don't want to steal your thunder keep going.

Theresa Francomacaro  So  you know how Noom they set you up with coach, right and the coach, you know, set you you know, conversation tonight. I immediately said to the coach, are you a real person? Are you a robot? And she's like, Oh, no, I'm a real person. I could tell she was a real person because she interacted with me like a real person. And so what we need an instructional design. It's not simply more tools to make us robotic. We need more stories to make us more human. That's the key. Because the emotions that get activated when we tell stories, they drive action and the action is going to drive your CTA or your call to action. And again, that's going to drive your ROI. I remember again, many years ago when I was doing sales, training, leadership training and product knowledge training for Fortune 500 companies, my team's always had the highest sales. And I remember my VP of training came to me and she's like, you know, everybody, they're asking for you. I'm like, okay, and I'm like, Well, okay, what made me a different trainer was we had all the product knowledge, we all have the same deck, I would go in there, and I'd say, you know, I'm going to teach you this product knowledge for sure. And I'm going to teach you how to sell it. Yeah, yeah. Because, again, all the product knowledge in the world isn't gonna help you sell it. So I would then take the products and I'd say, throw out a persona or throw out a challenge, and then I'd spin it and customize it to a story that's going to help that client reach their MacGuffin. In other words, what they want, their desire. Macguffins are simply you know, think about it like in story structure in Harry Potter, it's the Horcruxes and Harry Potter or it's the plaintiffs in Lord of the Rings, right? So what does your learner want? Does your learner want to be on ace salesperson? Does your learner want to get promoted? Does your executive want to give an all hands meeting that's going to show them as a human? Again, when you can figure out as an instructional designer, what the learner ultimately wants, and then reverse engineer your training to give them that? It's magic. It's magic.

Robin Sargent  That kind of leads me to my next question, which is, what are some of the things that you do to determine your learner's motivation? Are you creating personas and doing like a empathy type of map? Or what's your process that you would tell people to do in order to discover their MacGuffin and motives and their persona, and really also identify which pieces of the flle model that are activated different times? What does that upfront work look like?

Theresa Francomacaro  Oh, such such a great question, Dr. Robin. And what I'll always do is I'll start with my chunk, outline. It's a free template that's on my website, You can download it. And it's designed for a two minute story again, which is something I really believe in, and I use it every single time I'm designing a training. So I start off with what is it that I want my learner to think, feel and or do differently, and you can't have too much stuff? You know, what, three things five Max, people remember things in threes and fives, the brain loves that. Anymore and your brain has cognitive overload, and it's done. And I also share with people that you want to do them in three, three minute chunks. And you might say what, so about nine minutes times three, I mean, there's a reason why TED talks are 18 minutes, because the brain again, John Medina Brain Rules, you know, the brain can't handle too much of it, and it needs to digest it. So you need to have some time phased learning approaches. And then you need to make sure that you build in the practice, because again, training, dumps don't work. We need time for skills, practice. And so that skills practice piece has to be really important to your instructional design, as well as giving people time to think about it, and to meditate on it, and reflect on it. What went well, what didn't go well. So I usually start with that premise. And then I reverse engineer, and then I think, where's my learner. And then I also have an arsenal of stories in each category, fear, love, longing, empathy, and action, that are going to help activate my learner's emotion around the topic I'm training on, because the emotion is going to drive the action and the action drives the results. You can't just think about it, you got to actually do something.

Theresa Francomacaro  Agree, completely agree. And so one of the things that you've ever a lot of us that we've ever done in kind of dig into instructional storytelling, and I even talked about in my book, and that is that you can go to your subject matter experts to stories. Do you have to do that or is it more about having your own arsenal of stories, or is it a combo of both?

Theresa Francomacaro  Oh, yeah, absolutely. You you need to get the experts in the room talking. In fact, when I do my one on one executive coaching, I use this technique called hold, mold, toss. And you might be like, what?

Robin Sargent  What's the last word hold, mold, and what?

Theresa Francomacaro  Toss, t, o, s, s imagine you're going to a subject matter expert and imagine you're playing baseball with them. And you ask them to throw you their expertise. So they throw it to you. And then you got to hold it, and then mold it, massage it and then say, Okay, what about this and then toss it back to them? If you let their expertise just was on by you and drop, like a thud in the middle of the field? Well, what good is that. I mean, that's not going to help anybody. So you got to figure out a way to take that expertise, and then package it up and say, Okay, so this is what I'm hearing you say, and then you got to put your spin on it, you got to think about what is my learner need at this moment? Do I need to take that SMEs idea, and then turn it into a fear story, or a love story, or a serotonin story, or an empathy story, or a call to action story and adrenaline story. And I'm using the word story in many different ways here, because you know, that's my thing. And stories, you can insert that for learning module, right, you can insert that for what I want the audience with a learner to take away right now. So there is an objective, and then you reverse engineer it. This is basic story structure, I didn't make this stuff up, I make up these simple ways to help me remember it, because the mnemonics are what helped me understand how to do this and be able to do it quickly. So for example, I have something I call the ICE Method. Do I know what that is? I do it so again, this is where you can mine your own stories, or you could help your subject matter experts mine their stories by telling them about the ICE Method. And basically it's this is taken from fried tags, storytelling triangle or Pixar, it's triangle of or Pixar story method. I didn't make this up. I just helped create a mnemonic to help me remember it. So this is what I tell folks, all of a sudden, what you're doing in the two minutes story, you're moving along. And you know, you've got to grab her to hook your audience, and then something changes. Boom. So that's what we call the inciting incident. And so that's the I and ice. So because of the inciting incident, something changes, so then c we get conflict. And because of that, we get conflict. And because of that we finally get oh, though, so I see C and then finally e there's an ending. In other words, why does it matter? In other words, why should we care? So you want to end your story strong, you want to what I call Nadia Comaneci it or stick the landing, you know, you got to Simone Biles that you got to stick that landing. People remember the beginnings and ends of things. So begin strong and end strong. I hope I answered your question. I can't remember where we were billing, but you just been talking about stories that I am off to the races?

Robin Sargent  You covered it? I mean, I was talking about like, you know, how do you pull stories from subject matter experts and we talked about the hold, mold and toss. And then he talked about the ICE Method for story structure. I think that it's probably time, Teresa for you to tell us how how we can write stories in two minutes or less.

Theresa Francomacaro  There we go. So you can find the chunk outline, you can find it on my website, I've also got a quick little two minute video on it. The first thing you need to do in the first 10 to 15 seconds is you need to have a grabber or you need to hook your audience. So sometimes that can come in the form of a question or a statistic, or a really like ooh, curious quote. So here's one for you. I'll see if this entices you to listen. Once I fantasize about having an affair with the chef at the Embassy Suites. Are you listening?

Robin Sargent  Of course I am.

Theresa Francomacaro  You're leaning in, right? Yeah, so that's my opener, right? That's 10-15 seconds. And then I might move to who here has ever found themselves in a sticky situation? And you're like, how the heck did I get here. And now I can spin that. So today what we're going to do as instructional designers, we're going to take you through a method that's going to help you with handle any sticky situation at any time. So you too can get your audience and your learner on track and on method. Boom. So there you go. There's my hook. Then I told him what I'm going to tell him and then I start going to where were you, what were you doing? So I say, for example, the next minute 60 to 90 seconds. This is your inciting incident. So I'm in a training and now we'll go back to that healthcare training right. The training all of a sudden starts going sideways because somebody's throwing somebody under the bus and then I'll give a little bit more conflict, conflict conflict until I say what finally happened. So then you spend about 90 seconds or so saying about what finally happens. And then the last 30 seconds, you stick the landing, and you say something like, so my advice to you, or the next time you find yourself in, try this or do this, and then you gotta get the benefit. So let me stick the land in for that opener, right? Because I'm not going through the whole 90 seconds, I'll say so the next time you find your training, getting hijacked by difficult learner, tell a story that the learner needs to hear and you'll get your training on track. And on time. Thank you very much, right. So so you gotta have that action benefit model. This is something I practice all the time and my Dale Carnegie trainings, as well as when I'm doing story coaching for job activation, or sales training, you've got to end with why is this story important? And why should we care? And what do we need to do? So it's marketing or sales one on one, you got to put your CTA in the beginning and at the end, because that's what people remember. And you got to keep them active with your conflict, conflict conflict and what happened. Okay.

Robin Sargent  The thing that came to my mind, Theresa, when you're giving your examples and things like that is and tell me if this is too simplistic, but it almost reminds me of Aesop fables, you know, where you kind of the way that you do is you get the hook, and then the conflict? And there really is a moral the story, would you say that when we were writing stories for training that we are doing more, those types of stories were really are trying to find, you know, sticking the landing by finding the moral, spelling it out, right, because a lot of times, you'll read stories, and they don't always tell you what the moral of the story is, but we got to be explicit about it. Would you say that?

Theresa Francomacaro  I would agree with you. And I always tell my clients specific is terrific. So you got to give them the you know, I don't want to say you got to spoon feed them. You got to leave the little breadcrumbs like a Aesop's Fables, right? I'm imagining Hansel and Gretel running through the forest. Right? And it's okay, you know, we're not writing Faulkner's novel here, right? We weren't in this is not you know, I'm not asking an instructional designers to be Jerry Seinfeld or Martin Scorsese, what you need to do is you have to distill it down in those micro learning bite size moments. So people remember them. And that's where that story structure in the story arc can help you. And you got to have the confidence, right? You know, so many times I hear instructional designers and trainers facilitators you know, I can't tell story about me. I mean, no, you know, that's what people on LinkedIn, say, you know, I never tell personal stories. And I'm like, why not? Because, again, your story is the only differentiator you have is the only way you're going to stick out and make a difference and rise above the noise. There is so much content out there, you know, this, you've created zillions of content. You've been doing this for so many years. What do people remember when they walk out the door? Well, you know, they often have script says that within 24 hours, 80% of the learning is going to disappear. What they're going to remember is your emotional wake, they're going to remember how you made them feel. And the feelings come in the stories we tell. So we have to, we have to tell the stories. And a lot of times people are afraid. They're afraid to delve into their own story, and they haven't practiced them. Oh my god, you gotta practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, stand in front of the mirror and practice. I've been telling stories for 50 years, you know, people say, Oh, my God, how do you do that? I'm like, well, I'm telling stories all the time. Everywhere I go. There's an opportunity for a story. And I'll practice them in low stakes environments. That's the other thing instructional designers get hooked up and or tripped up and they wait until it's show time for go time. I'm like, no, no, no, no. You've got to practice those stories in low stakes moments or in front of audiences that are going to give you a break. It's okay. It's okay. I tell a lot of stories at the moth Grand Slam I do that here in Seattle. There's a storytelling venues where you can go or fresh ground stories, I mean, fine or Toastmasters or even just standing in front of the mirror at a cocktail party. Start telling more real relevant brief stories. I always say to people, have you ever been at a at a dinner or a party and someone's telling a story and you want to like poke your eyeballs out?

Robin Sargent Yes. My oldest son tries to tell a story, I'm like, where's the point?

Theresa Francomacaro  So I say you want to avoid death by story or death by PowerPoint. And that's why you have to activate emotion and have the three golden rules be real, be relevant, be brief. My God, please help us all.

Robin Sargent  Then I hear you saying a lot about our examples. When you're doing instructor led training, how do you differentiate writing stories and telling stories and sharing them from instructor led where you can kind of pull it out of your pile that you have squirreled away versus Okay, well, you're writing something that's going to be self paced, and they're just going to watch the story or something like that. How do you differentiate kind of writing stories for those two different?

Theresa Francomacaro  Well, I think some of it has to do with your learning model, right? Your if that's right, and I'm probably not saying the language, right. But when you go through your elearning modules, when they click this, you know, this is going to pop up, and that's going to pop up. So you want to have different stories given where the learner ends up navigating and going, and then that will pop into your learning module. And you could also maybe anticipate, where you envision the stories or the learners going to be at any given time. Or maybe you could have them auto select through a menu. And then when they hit this one menu, then this story pops up, right? So if you know in advance what some of the emotions are going to pop up or you pre program, different stories based on those five emotions we talked about. If the learner is going down a certain trail, then you know, your elearning content is going to pull those types of stories. Did that answer your question?

Robin Sargent  Yeah, I also I encourage people to write out problems scenarios and then increase from, you know, easy to more difficult problems, scenarios to work to learn through all the different components skills that add up to somebody being able to solve a whole problem on their own. What do you differentiate between storytelling and scenario writing?

Theresa Francomacaro  Ah, yes. Well, what you've said, and what you very well articulated is, there's a difference between storytelling and story crafting, right? So I've got a background in performance, right. So I will coach and do train the trainers and help people get their stories straight, or get them to understand you know, when you move from left to right, that's the natural way your eyes read. So if you're telling a story, start from the left and end center stage. Right. So boom, stick the landing. That's the presentation. That's the storytelling type. Then there's the story crafting, how do I write it? How do I find it? How do I mine it? And that's where we move to the chunk outline. And some of those story personas, I've got a fear story around onboarding and feeling like I'm not going to measure up. So how do I get some of those stories around that, and maybe we have a compilation of people in the existing structure of the organization that have talked through their exact fears that maybe you know, the audience is feeling because you've done your homework, you've done your needs assessment. And you know what some of the most common challenges are for that new hire, or that person coming to a sales quota, and having to ramp up quickly. And within 90 days, if they don't make their quota? They're out the door, right? So you really have to be intentional about where you know, your learners going to be in their learning journey. And then craft your stories and your learning around that. And you can set that up in advance. But you've got to do your homework. So that you know, what is your learner feeling right now? And how can I deliver the MacGuffin so that they don't go sideways or quit? Right? Or, you know, that was a fun training? I'll never use any of it. Thanks. You know, that's cool. You've kind of hold your learner able to enact these things. And I'm all for elearning because it's helpful for scaling. And there's nothing like the human connection. Right? So what are they doing with that? Leave space in your elearning for maybe then to record them putting some of this stuff into play and have them do it in two minutes or less? Boy, boy, you're gonna see where the learner is struggling pretty quickly. And you're also going to get them to feel self confident because they're actually doing it. They're putting it into practice. You got to do it.

Robin Sargent  This has been so great, Theresa, and so if you could just give kind of your last and best advice for those who are looking to become an instructional designer. What would you  tell them to consider and to remember what's their stick the landing Theresa. So how we wrap this up, and and tell them you know an important note for becoming an IDOL.

Theresa Francomacaro  To be an IDOL, tell more relevant, brief stories. And your learner will love you and act on what you teach. Remember, it's the actions you take, and the intention to make that enables your learner to grow, thrive and prosper. t=Tell more stories, your brain loves it, and so will your learner.

Robin Sargent  Beautiful. And then just say one more time, Theresa, all the different wonderful resources that you have out on your website, tell them where they can find you how they can find things like that.

Theresa Francomacaro  Absolutely, please find me on LinkedIn. I'm the only Teresa Francomacaro out there. I also have a website, So it's just like it sounds all together. We've also got a YouTube channel. And if anybody has a story they're working on or they feel stuck, they can reach out to me via my website on the Calendly link and schedule a 20 minute free consults, they can download my chunk outline. Also, if you mentioned this podcast, I am happy to give any of your listeners a 10% discount on any type of story coaching program they choose. So there you go. That's my gift to you and your learners. And stories are powerful. They have the power to fire up the imagination and lift the soul and enact behavior change. And that's what we all want as learners. And that's what we want as instructional designers. We want our stories to activate the behavior change we're trying to seek.

Robin Sargent  I just love it. This was just such a joy. Thank you so much for your offer for our listeners. And thank you so much for being here, Theresa, and I hope to see you inside the academy.

Theresa Francomacaro  Oh, absolutely. In fact, we're gonna do a storytelling workshop in the academy. Absolutely. That's on my bucket list. We're doing it. So I'm going to follow up with you after this. I want to do it because we need to tell more real relevant stories. Stories connect us and I believe that human connection is a human right. And the best way to do that is through the stories we tell.

Robin Sargent  Beautiful. Thank you.