Log in
Log in
  • Home
  • Storytraining: Selecting and Shaping Stories that Connect | March 21, 2019 Event Recap

Storytraining: Selecting and Shaping Stories that Connect | March 21, 2019 Event Recap

April 09, 2019 4:52 PM | Anonymous

By Jimel Razdan

The story is not for you, it’s for the learner.

This theme permeated Hadiya Nuriddin’s ATDChi session on March 21, 2019 at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Lake Forest.

Throughout the evening, Ms. Nuriddin talked to a full room of TD professionals on the importance of story in the learning process. “The lessons of your life shape you,” said Ms. Nuriddin.  They make you who you are and are entrenched with lessons. If we are aware and are open to learning from these lessons, then we can then share our stories with others, imparting the knowledge we have.

Why stories?When we share our experiences we tap into emotions, memory, and impact. Stories make an impression because they connect people in empathy, on a deep level of understanding. Good storytelling helps others feel safe to tell their own stories, building on that deep connection.

But how do we tell a story that engages learners and delivers the message we intend?Intention is the first step. What is it that we want the learner to learn? The answer to this question must guide how we build our stories. We must identify a story that will support the point we’re trying to make. 

In combing through the stories of our past, we must be careful to look for “lessons, not legends.” According to Ms. Nuriddin, a legend is a story where you’re 100% the hero or 100% the victim. In legends, there is no growth. There needs to be balance between hero and victim to show personal development. We learn more from “growth than glory.” For the lesson to have impact, we need to connect via the lesson being similar to that of the story andby demonstrating change with a theme that is relevant to the message we want to impart.

To assist in building a good story, Ms. Nuriddin shared tools such as guidelines for selecting stories, timelining to structure your story, and the story spine.

Selecting stories - listen with empathy; storytelling is about you, but not for you; the learner is risking more than you; the goal is to motivate transformation.

Timelining - draw a line; identify the key event; identify leading events that allow the key event to be possible; identify consequential events that occurred as a result of the key event. You want to anticipate reactions to the story and determine where the lesson appears in the story - beginning, middle, or end. Always lead with what people can relate to, or what is true vs. what is the truth.

Story spine - the building blocks for creating your story:

  • Once upon a time…beginning
  • Every day…beginning
  • But, one day…the event
  • Because of that…middle
  • Because of that…middle
  • Because of that…middle
  • Until finally…the climax
  • And, ever since then…end

You can practice using the story spine by going to

Last, Ms. Nuriddin urged participants to focus on keeping it REAL:

  • Release - you have to let your story go
  • Engage - talk to your learners about your story; ask questions first to make sure you’re telling the right story; listen with empathy
  • Adapt - if it’s not what they’re talking about, stop
  • Learn - if you haven’t learned anything, you’re doing it wrong

Ultimately, the stories we tell can entertain, but by focusing our intent, a well-structured story becomes a training tool that engages learners with lessons that will stick with them long after the training is over.

To learn more, read Storytraining: Selecting and Shaping Stories that Connect by Hadiya Nuriddin at 

Jimel Razdan is a Sociologist, instructional designer, trainer, and author. She has over 15 years of training and development experience, and her specialty is building training programs to support customer service in a variety of fields. 

Connect with Jimel via LinkedIn ( or e-mail (


CARA Group Logo

Phone: 872-228-7476  |   Email:
Privacy Statement
© 2014-2024, ATD Chicagoland Chapter
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software