Monday, January 22, 2018

Pixar in a Box: Lessons on Storytelling - Tip #166

“Monsters, Inc.” is a Pixar animated movie that features monsters going to work scaring kids for a living. At least, that’s how director Pete Docter pitched it originally. And, although people who first heard the idea laughed and thought it funny, the people he pitched the story to got “bored and restless.”

“They don’t understand what this movie is about!,” Docter shares in Pixar in a Box’s Introduction to Storytelling video.

Why did the film people react this way?

The Missing Piece

Docter’s initial pitch lacked a key element: The story needed a piece of himself.

“What you’re trying to do really when you tell a story is to get the audience to have the same feeling.” Since the pitch had no emotional anchor for Docter, he had a hard time eliciting an emotional reaction from his audience.

A New York University piece about storytelling in teaching and learning argues that stories give meaning to disparate information--something I’ve been talking about in the blog over and over for so long.

Here are just some of the ways stories can give meaning to elearning content:
Tell Your Story

So, what was “Monsters, Inc.” about? It was about a man becoming a father--exactly what was happening to Docter at the time. That pitch worked!

“The power of a story is that it has an ability to connect with people on an emotional level. You hear this advice all the time: Write what you know as a kid. … What that actually means is ... put something into it that talks about your own life. … Something from your own life will make that story come alive.”

What’s your story? Share a piece of yourself with learners so they can tell their own stories. That’s what Pixar did and continues to do and it’s working! The company is worth billions for one reason: “People who work at the studio direct all of their creative energy toward crafting the best stories possible.”


Pixar in a Box’s Introduction to Storytelling video
Storytelling in Teaching and Learning
Tip #17 - Converting Obscure eLearning Content into Usefulness
Tip #118 - Content That Lives Within a Story Lasts Forever
Tip #121 - Stories of Real-Life Fiascos and Blunders Motivate Learners
The creative minds at Pixar break down what makes their movies so successful

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

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