Simple story + Excel training = memorable

Today’s guest post is from Mike Hodkinson in London (contact info below). Mike was one of the book winners at a recent webinar I delivered about storytelling in the virtual classroom, and he followed up with an email about how he uses simple story to illuminate Excel training. I asked his permission to share what he sent…hope you enjoy the English accent, too. 🙂


I look forward to receiving the The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook in the post.  Very much enjoyed your presentation and learnt new ways to engage with a virtual audience.  I have been a strong advocate of when training / coaching either face to face or online to tell a short memorable story related to how to complete say a specific work task including using in it analogies which overall attendees can easily memorise, recall and also pass on to others so the learning given can become almost viral.

An example of this is a supporting story I use on how to do a graph in excel with one finger.    (And yes, you can do this without the long winded wizard)

It goes like this: –

“Mr X walks through the months of the year and why he is doing this is in the columns next door.  But Mr X is a bit forgetful so he writes a legend / story of why he is do this above the columns.  He then jumps in a F11 plane and flies to chartland.”

Simple Excel story enhances training (Click to enlarge)

This short story is done at the same time as creating the following table in excel and finishes with pressing F11 key on any cell in the table area which instantly creates a chart (graph) sheet based upon the table constructed.

It’s simple, short, memorable, and very quick.  Users are blown away by how easy this is, and by repeating the above story 3 or 4 times as I run through it, the story sticks in their memory.

Editor’s notes:

As I highlighted in the webinar, while I love the classic “hero’s journey,” my relaxed definition of “story” is something that illuminates how to get from point A (a current situation or problem) to point B (the desired outcome). I thought Mike’s illustration served that point well. Note, too, that he repeats it. Muy bien.

You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn or via email with the following: mikeh(at sign)psycal.demon(dot)(co)(dot)(uk)

Your own stories about doing live, online training? Send ’em along.

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