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5 tips for writing dialogue for scenario-based learning

Updated: Jul 25, 2023


leonardo.ai generated image in 3d animation style. prompt: "a woman of color and a white man talking happily, with comic-book-like speech bubbles above their heads"; I noticed another controversial and oft commented-on trait of current AI image generation models, that any lack of detail around prompts involving "people of color" tend to invoke fairly white-washed characters - all 8 images leonardo generated with this prompt (using 2 different styles) created similar-looking, relatively caucasian/possibly hispanic and/or mixed race female characters.


Dialogue is an essential part of simulations and scenario-based learning, as it helps to create a realistic environment and provide context for the scenario. Here are some tips on how to write effective dialogue for scenario-based learning, simulations, and role-play.


1. Keep it Realistic:

When writing dialogue for training scenarios, it's important to keep it realistic. This means using language and expressions that are commonly used in the workplace. Research common phrases and vocabulary that are used in the industry or field that the scenario is based on and verify those terms with your SMEs. The language used in the dialogue should also be realistic and appropriate for the characters and the scenario. This means sometimes using improper grammar (“I’m gonna” usually sounds more natural in conversation than “I’m going to”) and occasionally using technical jargon, abbreviations, or terms that are natural to the role the characters play – provided that trainees will understand any special terms or definitions are provided.


2. Make it Relevant:

Dialogue should be relevant to the training content without too much ‘small talk’. Some ‘small talk’ might be ok to introduce characters and make them more personable, but the dialogue and scenario should focus on the key concepts and skills that learners need to master. The scenario, characters, dialogue, events, challenges, and resolutions should be centered around real-life problems and situations that learners will encounter, demonstrating how to handle them. When writing scenarios and character dialogue, always keep in mind the learning and business goals.


3. Add Emotional Context:

Dialogue should have emotional context to make it more realistic. Consider the emotions that learners may experience in a particular situation and try to incorporate them into the dialogue. This can help learners to practice empathy and emotional intelligence skills. If characters and their dialogue are robotic and unnatural, scenario-based training becomes far less effective as the learner isn’t able to see the scenario and characters as relatable.


4. Use Active Voice:

Dialogue should be written in the active voice. This means using verbs that show action and make the dialogue more engaging. Using active voice in dialogue can help to create a sense of urgency and engagement. For example, "I need you to evacuate the building now" is more urgent and engaging than "The building needs to be evacuated now” but an even more urgent “Get out now!” might be more appropriate depending on the context.


5. Include Non-Verbal Cues:

Dialogue is not just about what is said but also how it is said. Including non-verbal cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language can make the dialogue more realistic and help learners to practice their observation and interpretation skills. Using cartoon-ish or illustrated characters can make this challenging, but many tools allow for customization of characters and facial features. Vary the positions and expressions of your characters as much as possible while keeping them natural and within the range of their emotional state in the scenario.


Writing effective dialogue for scenario-based simulations and role-play requires research, attention to detail, and a focus on creating engaging and realistic language and visuals. By following these tips, you can create dialogue for engaging and effective training scenarios that help learners to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world situations.

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