By Corporate English Solutions

10 May 2022 - 12:49

Female CEO in front of a presentation of data in bar graph format

Reading time: 3 minutes

Reporting training ROI to stakeholders is essential but can become dry and uninspiring. We present a 5-step process that makes facts and figures more engaging, ensuring that stakeholders appreciate the data you provide and perceive the true value of your learning and development initiatives. 


In the current climate of budget and resources cuts, it is more important than ever that we keep stakeholders fully up to date on the ROI in training and development. Learning and development teams are investing a significant amount of time and budget into looking for the ideal software. But how useful is software and data on its own and how can we make facts and figures more engaging?  

94 per cent of respondents to the 2021 LEO Learning Watershed Report Measuring the Business Impact of Learning, stated that measuring the impact of learning programmes was important. 60 per cent of respondents felt executive pressure to measure this impact, up from 35 per cent five years ago. *   

While these stakeholders appreciate data and evidence, they often measure the value of training ROI through the way you present your data rather than the data itself. Making ROI reports engaging and memorable is therefore essential to persuade your audience, add to your credibility and influence stakeholder buy-in for future learning and development initiatives.  

Benefits of storytelling  

Kate Sullivan, British Council Head of Services and Talent, considers why storytelling is an important way of reporting ROI and offers advice on how to use this powerful technique.  

“Making ROI reports engaging and memorable is essential to persuade your audience, add to your credibility and influence stakeholder buy-in for future learning and development initiatives. Even if it is an accepted way of communicating in your organisation, where do you start? How do you choose the right narrative technique and tone to make an impact on stakeholders?”  

Using our 5-step process  

Kate adds, “Like many skills, storytelling can be learned and perfected with practice. By following the British Council’s five-step process, you can build expertise, become a confident storyteller, and communicate effectively with stakeholders.”  

Step 1: Analyse your stakeholders and identify your purpose  

Consider the following: 

  • Who are your stakeholders?  
  • What do they need to know?  
  • What should they think, feel, and do after reading or listening to your story?   
  • What is their preferred communication style?  

Step 2: Select the best storytelling technique  

There are many techniques to choose from. Here we explore three:   

Success story  

Success stories are an effective way of highlighting a specific business problem, learning need and the benefits of the solution implemented. Describe the situation before and after the training, highlight the skills improvement and business impact.   This technique works well to influence stakeholders who prefer an analytical, action-oriented approach with key outcomes described concisely.  


Spotlights are personal accounts that engage stakeholders by focusing on an individual or team’s learning journey and the impact on their skills and performance.   To create a spotlight, provide templates for training participants to tell the story from their point of view. Collate them into a presentation or report, including photos, audio, and video clips for added interest. If participants are uncomfortable story writing, you can interview them instead.    

This technique will engage those who are more people-oriented, influenced by emotions, morale, and relationships.  

The journey   

A well-established and popular narrative technique, the journey focuses on how the learning initiative was implemented, including steps, challenges, mitigation, and outcomes.   

Engage the audience using humour or dramatic tension to highlight challenges during implementation and to emphasise the learning gain. Demonstrate how this will be used to improve future training and increase its impact.   

This technique offers effective communication with stakeholders who are process-oriented, and engaged by detail, structure, explanations, and expertise. The journey technique reassures them that future training will be successful and encourages them to take calculated risks in trying something new.

You may find it useful to employ a combination of narrative techniques. This is also a good way of ensuring you engage with mixed groups of stakeholders.  

Step 3: Select the key messages  

Ask yourself:  

  • What content will help you achieve your purpose, suit your selected technique, and reach your desired outcomes?  
  • What data is relevant?   

Step 4: Craft an engaging narrative   

Storyboarding will help ensure your narrative flows well. Create a flow chart or use post-it notes to arrange your narrative. Make sure the progression of the story is clear to avoid it becoming disjointed.   

Think about the tone of your narrative. Are your stakeholders more engaged by analytical or emotional language? Should it be concise or bullet-pointed, or would detailed paragraphs be more appropriate?  

You want your story to resonate with your stakeholders, so what elements will you use to add variety and impact? Consider audio and video clips, images, word clouds, photos, and infographics.  

Step 5: Tell your story    

How will your story reach stakeholders and have the most impact? Will they respond better to reading or listening? Do you need to do a formal presentation or are informal focus groups better?   

Armed with this step-by-step guide, you can feel more confident and prepared to use storytelling to communicate ROI to stakeholders, gain credibility and increase-buy in for learning initiatives.    

Find out how you can upskill your staff with storytelling skills and other techniques to improve their professional communication skills. 

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*Source: LEO Learning Watershed Report, 2021,