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Strategy Guide: How to Transform Boring Content into Engaging Training
Strategy Guide: How to Transform Boring Content into Engaging Training

Use simple & proven learning design to take your policies and processes from "meh" to "wow"

Shawn Jensen avatar
Written by Shawn Jensen
Updated over a week ago

Said no one, EVER!

Let's be honest, should you really care whether your people LIKE learning them? I mean, it's part of their job to know them, right? This is the crucial stuff that ensures your business runs smoothly and impacts how everyone does their work. They should be engaged in it for that purpose alone, right? Does it matter if our people like learning them?

Yes, it does matter! And here's why:

We (human beings) like learning things that are interesting to us. And things we like, we engage with and retain longer than things we don't. When it comes to your policies and procedures, you want your people to remember them, right? So, make them more engaging and they'll want to learn them and they'll retain them longer. That's a win!

But HOW in the world do you make policies and procedures more engaging? πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

Step 1 - Start with the Why

Strategy: Give them a purpose they will care about

As adults, we crave purpose and value. If we don't see it in what we're doing, we don't care about fully engaging with it. In training, that's a big problem.

When you create a new policy or process subject, before you get into the deep details, provide a quick introduction of what will be covered and why it is valuable to them.

To catch interest right from the beginning, do this introduction as a video. It's a lot more interesting to see someone you know or recognize share the value of the training than to have to read it in a big paragraph of text.

Here's a real-life example of an intro video for a "Success Coaching" subject I created to train our new team members:

πŸ’ͺ Coach's Tip: Videos don't need to be Hollywood productions with fancy special effects. These days, people generally appreciate realness and candor over spectacle and glamour. Keep your videos short, sweet, and conversational. When you record, talk to your team members as if they are physically in the same room.

Strategy: Provide clear and measurable targets

In addition to sharing the purpose of the subject, let learners know precisely what they will be able to do when they complete it. We call these "targets". List the targets in bullet point format and make sure they are both clear and measurable.

Here are the targets from our Success Coaching subject:

You'll see each target starts with a concrete action verb and is perfectly clear and measurable. This does two things for your learners:

  1. It lets them know exactly what they will be held accountable for learning πŸ˜ƒ

  2. It gives you concrete outcomes to measure their learning by πŸ˜ƒ

πŸ’‘ Fact! Learners who know WHY they are doing training and what they will be held ACCOUNTABLE for learning want to engage because they understand the value the training it will give them!

πŸ‘‰ Do this: Think about a subject you are currently building or will be building soon. Answer the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the subject and what value will it provide those who complete it?

  • What are the clear and measurable targets for this subject?

You now have a start for providing the WHY for your subject. You're welcome!

Step 2: Create content that learners can engage WITH

You've been here before!πŸ‘† This is what it looks like when someone talks at you incessantly in a "training" session. You get bored. And when you're bored, you don't pay as much attention...and you miss things...sometimes really important things. And then, things happen...

Walls of text on a computer screen have precisely the same effect on a brain as a droning lecturer. It deadens the senses and makes the learning brain go all mushy. And then it misses details and retention goes down the tubes.

Strategy: Break up the monotony of text with intentional multimedia

We don't engage AT things. We engage WITH things. Whenever possible, add multimedia that either replaces or enhances the text and gives learners the opportunity to do something while they are learning. So, instead of glassing over a screen full of text they could:

  • watch short explainer videos

  • view pictures, diagrams, charts, maps, digital boards, etc.

  • navigate slide shows

  • listen to audio clips

  • click hyperlinks to helpful websites and other Trainual content

  • and yes...chuckle at hilarious GIFs πŸ˜‰

Each of these allows the learner to engage WITH the content. And that's so good for long-term retention!

With a little extra effort, you can turn something sort of "meh" like this:

Into something just as informative but way more interesting like this:

Strategy: Add application activities to reinforce learning

Something we know about how human adults learn is that practicing what we've learned drastically increases knowledge and skill retention. This is why apprenticeships have been around since the beginning of time. They work!

Perhaps you've just provided the procedure for operating a piece of machinery, the instructions for filling out a request form, or the steps for conducting a sales call.

Before moving on to the next process, stop and think:

Is there an activity I can have them do to let them practice and apply what they just learned?

If so, add a step and provide instructions for completing the activity. Here's an example from a training subject on how to use Slack.

πŸ’ͺ Coach's tip: Application activities that require the learner to produce a product naturally encourage engagement. They allow them to apply what they've learned and give you (the trainer) something to assess and provide feedback on.

⭐️ Bonus tip: Application activities should help learners achieve one or more of the subject's targets! If they don't, they probably aren't valuable!

πŸ‘‰ Do this: Review one of your existing subjects or one you are creating right now. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What practical application activities could you add to it?

  • What could the learner produce that shows what they've learned?

Now, add those activities into the subject.

Step 3: Assess Always

As learners, we need to be challenged! We pretend we don't like to be challenged but we actually do love to prove that we can do the things we've been taught how to do. That's where assessment comes in.

Now, when I said the word "assessment" I'm guessing your mind went immediately to Tests! Yes, tests are an effective form of assessment and you can create them easily in Trainual. You can learn how right here.

πŸ’ͺ. Coach's Tip: The best test questions are those that do more than just ask the learner to recall something they very recently read. Questions that require critical thought and application are much better for long-term retention. Want to learn more about constructing great assessment questions? Click here!

But tests are not the only form of assessment that are valuable to include in training. Remember the application activities we talked about earlier? If you include a task to create a product that you can review and provide feedback on, that is assessment!

Here's another way.

Strategy: Recap the targets

You want your team members to 100% own their own learning. At the end of your subjects, specifically call out the targets you shared with them at the beginning and ask them to assess themselves on whether they have accomplished them. This would be a step at the end of the subject. Here's what that might look like.

Notice we were intentional about telling them to go back and review anything they didn't feel super solid on.

In addition, we gave them a contact person to go to if they want to discuss anything else related to the content.

πŸ’‘ Fact: If a learner can identify their own knowledge / skill gaps, and then can fill those gaps through their own review, that knowledge will be retained exponentially longer than if someone else just told them the answers over and over and over and...

πŸ‘‰ Do this: Consider your existing subjects.

  • Where could you add assessments such as recaps and tests?

  • What other intentional assessments could you include?

This. is. training!

For something to truly earn the highly coveted and prestigious moniker of "training," it must include four key features:

  1. Instruction

  2. Examples

  3. Application

  4. Assessment

The strategies we've gone over in this guide will help you to crush all four of these critical features of effective training content.

Need help building awesome content? Book a free Content Coaching session by requesting one via chat or by emailing!

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