The problem with compliance – Storytelling in Compliance Elearning

Let’s be honest – compliance training can be dull. However, it also plays a vital role in ensuring that organisations and their employees know their responsibilities. It can even help them stay on the right side of the law.


Bored man not enjoying storytelling in compliance elearning

Compliance training can feel like a chore for some employees


Many businesses are now turning their classroom-based compliance training into elearning. But poor design can still make compliance training an unappealing prospect to time-poor employees. So how do you make compliance elearning as engaging and memorable as possible? By telling a story.


The power of storytelling

Think about a great book you’ve read recently or one you enjoyed as a child. There’s something about reading or listening to a story that captures our attention. It interests us far more than just plain information.

That might be because storytelling is the oldest form of communication. In fact, stories are so woven into all of us it’s even been proven that our brains organise information into story form. This allows us to connect and make sense of the world around us.


Why is storytelling effective in elearning?

Learning complex factual information can be difficult. Storytelling in compliance elearning creates an immersive learning experience, helping that complex information become memorable to your audience. It also helps learners feel more emotionally connected to the subject matter. They see information that is relevant to them and how it applies to their job, rather than simply paragraphs of explanatory text.

Stories appeal to our emotions. They can make us happy or sad; nervous or excited. In elearning, a good story will make learners think and enable them to apply their knowledge when they encounter the same situations in the real world.

While the main purpose of compliance training should always be to educate, storytelling can add some much-needed entertainment. If completing the training feels less like a chore, learners will be engaged and the information may stick that little bit more.


Bookshelf storytelling in compliance elearning


Tips for great storytelling in compliance elearning

There’s nothing worse than content that feels like it’s been crowbarred into a course just for the sake of it. The story needs to fit in with the rest of the course and not distract from what learners need to achieve. Following these tips can help:

Make it realistic

Set your story in a relevant environment and introduce a main character who learners can associate with. Make them encounter a real-life situation as a learner might.

Get the tone right

Understand who your learners are and what they need to know. Keep the story conversational to add realism and cut out any unnecessary terminology learners might not be familiar with.

Don’t make it too long

Learners’ time is in demand, so edit the story to make it punchy and memorable. This will help avoid cognitive overload.

Make sure it has a beginning, middle and end

Classic storytelling normally involves an introduction to the main character, an explanation of the problem that they face, and a resolution. It’s a great idea to let your learners come up with the resolution themselves by asking them to decide the character’s next course of action.

Get your learner involved

This could mean that the main character asks a learner for their advice, or you could write the story in the first person and place the learner at the heart of the action. Being directly involved in the story as either a guide or the central character appeals to a learner’s emotions.

Use relevant imagery

Many of us are visual learners so it’s a good idea to make the story as illustrative as possible. Showing your learners who your characters are and the situations they encounter can really make the story stick.

Remember the learning objectives

This will help ensure the story is relevant to the course and there are no unnecessary distractions.

Make it interactive

Ask your learners to click through the content, answer questions or solve dilemmas as they go. If they are in charge of influencing the outcome of the story it takes on much more meaning and relevance to them.


How we used storytelling in compliance elearning

We’ve recently created an off-the-shelf course about anti-money laundering. It follows the story of a bank employee who must spot the signs that money laundering is taking place and report their concerns.

Take a look at some screenshots illustrating how we wove a story into the course. Click each screenshot to enlarge.




Storytelling in compliance elearning is great way to motivate, engage and inspire learners. It can even encourage learners to change their behaviour. As long as your story ties in with the learning objectives of your course and doesn’t overshadow what learners need to know, storytelling can really help get your compliance message across – and make it stick.

To find out more about the brilliant elearning we create here at GLAD, email  You can also keep up to date with what we’re doing on Twitter.

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