It’s the release day of new training and you come to the office in an unusually good mood. Surely, you’ve put a lot of thought and resources into creating the course, so, guided by professional interest, you come closer to take a look at the employees’ monitors. But instead of seeing great enthusiasm and hearing the sighs of admiration you face the cruel truth: employees are just scrolling through the slides and completing the quizzes with the help of the Internet. Later you notice that one of them tweets “The most boring course ever”! What is this if not any training manager’s worst nightmare? Lucky for you, there are a few tips and tricks on how to make your content engaging and to secure yourself from boring training!
The understanding of how to prepare content that will keep learners interested throughout the course is a must-have for any training manager. Content is the only thing employees ever get to see. They are not aware of the choice of tools or all the thought you’ve put into the creation of the training. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand how to use content for communicating your values and expertise.
Here are the top 5 tips to produce engaging content!
1) Grab their attention
Learners best perceive information visually. When the design of slides is outdated and unattractive, employees are discouraged to proceed with the training. It’s important for workers to see that all the visual components of a course correspond to their company’s branding as well as the most recent trends. This is especially pronounced for fashion or tech companies that have to keep up with innovations. So, investing in high-quality design might be a good idea, especially if you employ mostly young and creative people.
However, even the greatest design is rarely enough to catch learners’ attention. For this reason, a variety of other training-enhancing elements can be used: images, videos, animations, diagrams, and so on. All of these components, while entertaining your audience through interaction and bright colors, can help the learners picture some information that is hard to understand from text alone. However, keep in mind that balance is important: use a diversity of engaging elements but in the right quantities.
Finally, try to surprise your employees by making a memorable course introduction or by occasionally including some attention-grabbing slides.
2) Align with knowledge
A few things to keep in mind when selecting the content are your employees’ experience, job titles, and responsibilities. For example, a course on how to sell a product should differ for a newly hired salesperson and the manager of the sales department. If you aim to create something “in the middle”, you will end up with a course that is too easy for a manager and too hard for a novice, so both of them will have no incentive of completing it. Keep in mind for whom you are making the training and find ways to differentiate it according to learners' competence.
How? The best way to do this is by including problem-solving tasks. Create situations for the learner that are complex, but solvable when enough time and effort is invested. Returning to the sales course example, a manager may be asked to come up with a sales strategy for a new product, whereas an inexperienced worker might be challenged by the task of introducing a good campaign slogan.
3) Make it relatable
After you make sure that the content is in line with learners’ competence, check for relatability. There is no need to include a hundred potential situations that have a low chance of happening in mandatory training. If you want to make employees interested in completing the training, frame material in the context that is relevant for your learner. Show your audience how this particular piece of information is applicable for their daily job or future career prospects.For example, if you are in the process of creating onboarding for remote employees, check that it doesn’t include any irrelevant sections, such as “day in the office” or “kitchen rules” parts. It is better to focus on how you perform remote communication and reporting within your company.
4) Give autonomy
In the 21st century, employees attach the highest value to personal independence. The flexibility of working hours and the ability to work from home are not the only ways to nourish independence in your workplace. Autonomy also has to be built into your learning process. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to prepare a highly customized training or a course full of tests with hundreds of options.What then can you do? First of all, ensure that your training has clear navigation that is easy to follow. Don’t lock slides and give learners an opportunity to return to the previous ones. Additionally, you should allow them to control speed and progress. Training is meant for the learner, so give your audience the right to make decisions independently.
5) Avoid cognitive overload
Even though it is essential to keep learners engaged at every stage of the training, introducing engaging elements may lead to cognitive overload. Cognitive load is our mental effort required to perform a task. Cognitive overload occurs when people need to devote too many resources to acquire information. It usually happens when the brain tries to perform several tasks simultaneously, and the person cannot focus their attention on only one of them.
Imagine yourself trying to watch a movie with subtitles or listening to a presentation that has a lot of text on the slides. After both of these activities, you most likely feel exhausted, or you realize that you were not actually listening, but rather reading. The same happens when one tries to pack one slide with audio, animation – and a chart! – it becomes too distracting. The learner ends up with a headache and the desire to never look at this training again. Accordingly, if you want to make sure your employees don’t get too exhausted after the training, remember this rule:
Don’t put too many engaging elements into one training. This is like baking a cake. Separately such ingredients as chocolate, candies, berries and caramel taste well, but if you mix them all together you will end up with something way too sweet.
In a previous blogpost we have already introduced the Golden circle of e-learning, which is the framework that can help any company create a learning process that aligns with its business goals. By relying on this approach, training managers insure themselves against making a course that has no purpose. Still, what gets underestimated in most cases is the content, not the purpose. In this article, we gave you 5 ways to make your content engaging, but these are just a few of the countless ways to enhance your training. Follow our blog’s tag “how to create a perfect training” at the bottom of the page, and you will soon get to know how to use animations, audio, and video in the correct way as well as how to build a course according to your learner’s profile.
Producing engaging content is always tricky as it’s all about keeping the right balance. The rules are quite simple: attract learners by creating a great design, include real-life problems that are tailored to their knowledge, provide the ability to control some parts of the course, and include some engaging elements. But don’t get too carried away – always be aware of the line where all these components, separately or together, become distracting and lead to cognitive overload.