Check out the picture above. Yes, you probably got it – they’re talking about the same subject.
One person’s boring compliance course is another person’s hot topic. If you approach the development of learning material as a tedious chore, that’s how it will come over to your audience. Your job is to engage your learner and that starts with a compelling concept.
In our leisure time, we might choose to consume content, such as TV shows, novels and music, for the entertainment value alone. The content is an end in itself.
At work, things are different. We are not interested in content in its own right; we’re interested in solving problems.
We want information that will help us to meet a current work challenge, reduce risk or provide us with a competitive personal advantage.
So, your job is to position your content in such a way that the learner can clearly see what’s in it for them (as opposed to you, their employer, a vendor or anyone else who’s sponsoring the content). They won’t want to dig deep to find the benefits – they’ll want them to be absolutely obvious. Benefits are critical to motivation because a person won’t put effort in when they can’t see what’s in it for them.
Motivation also has a second dimension. Not only do the benefits need to be desirable to your learner, they also need to be readily attainable. A prize of £1m is going to be desirable to most people, but not if it means swimming the English Channel.
In the context of learning content, attainable means not too complex and not too lengthy; the path to the benefit should be short and clear of obstacles.
- provide clear benefits (avoiding risk, solving a problem, explaining a tricky concept, showing you how to do something)
- can be articulated in an eye-catching title (so ‘Five closing techniques used by the masters’ or ‘Quantitative easing explained in two minutes’)
- provide the benefit with the minimum hassle (so not ’Fifty ways to close a sale’ or ‘Quantitative easing – a new 13-part series’)
Developing a concept might seem like a creative exercise but it actually requires some in-depth analysis.
To provide relevance you need to understand your audience well. In particular, you need to understand how content can in some way enhance their lives. What do they most need to know, to gain insights into, to be able to do?
That means getting out there and meeting your audience. Relevance cannot be contrived in an ivory tower. And relevance drives out resistance.