Storytelling doesn’t come naturally to most instructional designers. For every great storytelling video produced by learning organizations, there seems to be five cringe-worthy ones that are the laughingstocks of lunchroom conversations. Here are some of the most common mistakes.
Characters are not real. When the storytelling project devolves into standard talking-head videos of the protagonist spouting corporate jargon to the antagonist, who gets an epiphany from the message right away, you’ve lost all credibility. The characters of a story have to be flawed and quirky, just like in real life.
The hero transforms too soon. The protagonist displays the desired behavior too early in the story, which makes for a boring plot line. If Harry and Sally fall in love with each other five minutes into the movie, the tension is gone.
The message is hammered home too hard. If a story needs crutches such as a video instructor to jump in and explain the message, or text on screen with take-home points, or characters who act like instructors, it’s not a story—it’s a lecture.
The plot is too serious. The audience loves humor. Script reviewers fear this because they can always find something vaguely offensive in every joke.
The story is a one-time offering. Instead of weaving a transmedia story across multiple platforms and over time, the stories tend to be told once in a training session.
The problem with many instructional storytelling videos, in a nutshell, is that they are written for the senior executives who may approve the project and the subject-matter experts who provide the input, instead of being crafted for the end user.