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How to Create More Effective & Engaging Training Content

Today’s organizations — regardless of size or sector — can no longer afford to skimp on

corporate education and training programs. 

People go where the opportunities are. And that means they’ll go where growth and education are not only happening, but are a top priority for the team they’re joining. 

It’s those companies that prioritize the employee learning experience that attract and retain the best talent out on the market. These companies understand that helping their talent grow as professionals and as people ultimately drives better business outcomes.

So, wondering how to make training more effective in your business’ training program? At the heart of any great training program is content — text, visuals, videos — working together to capture learners’ attention, build up their knowledge, and of course, contribute to the company’s long-term success. 

Here, we’ll look at a few ways to make training more effective by improving your content. 

 

Enablement teams must partner with sales managers and individual sellers to ensure they are delivering the right value to the organization.  Use our Sales Enablement Survey to determine the questions to ask them to ensure you are meeting their needs.

 

 

Choose your words wisely

It doesn’t matter if it’s text, video, or a set of assessment questions, words are at the center of any piece of content you generate to support your sales enablement strategy. 

If there’s one thing you walk away with it’s this: When it comes to text, less is always more.

  • Give yourself room to improve. Approach your first draft as a brainstorming session and focus on generating ideas. Come back to it later and trim as much of the “fat” as you can get away with. We’re talking adverbs, lengthy descriptions, and redundancies.

Pro tip: the Hemingway App is super helpful here, highlighting adverbs and “complex” words in different colors while incorporating readability targets that introduce a gamification element into the fold.

  • Follow formatting best practices. Use bullet points, numbered lists and plenty of white space so you don’t overwhelm your audience with large chunks of black and white text.
  • Write the way you talk. Your content should feel like a conversation, rather than a collection of manuals pasted together. A good rule of thumb is to read your content out loud — you might even record it — to get a sense of whether it sounds “normal” coming out of a human mouth. Beware of technical jargon, and when possible, consider whether there’s a simpler way to communicate your message.
  • Infuse some personality into your training content. For new hires, your training materials may be the first impression you make. Embrace your inner story-teller and begin paragraphs with a short and snappy sentence, use alliteration, you get the idea. Your words should have personality — more specifically, they should reflect your brand’s personality, mission, and values. Or, maybe stop readers in their tracks with an attention-grabbing fact. Even if “playful” language isn’t on-brand, making a point to highlight important information will increase the chances readers will remember your words.
  • Get a second opinion. If you’re writing training content, you’re likely bringing some expert-level knowledge to the table. Be careful not to alienate the entry-level trainee or your colleague from the marketing department. With instructional training content, clarity comes first. Make sure to always ask someone without previous knowledge of the topic to read your content and put it to action. If they’re confused, your audience will be too.
  • Back to the drawing board. Edit, edit, and edit some more. Have multiple people proofread and give feedback on your content so that it is error-free and effective by the time it reaches your readers. While any piece of content — be it a blog post, Tweet, or industry report — can benefit from multiple eyeballs on the draft, the stakes are higher with training content. Given that a miscommunication or two can hurt your sales numbers or new hire ramp time, consider carving out enough time for a few extra rounds of editing. If possible, send it off to a professional.

Reinforce key points with visuals

Visuals reign supreme in today’s crowded digital landscape. They’re masters at delivering messages fast, with science backing us up on this one: Our brains process visuals at a rate 60,000x faster than text. 

Incorporating visuals into your training material instantly pumps life into your otherwise limp PDFs and training documents — making our brains light up in excitement — particularly with video content, which combines movement and visuals. 

However, it’s important to remember that every video, image, and infographic should serve a purpose. Yes, aesthetics matter a ton — but only when there’s substance standing behind them. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when pairing words and pictures to ensure the best results:

  • Use visuals when they help translate a message. What do you want learners to walk away with? The ability to navigate confidently through a series of complex steps or help a client solve a problem? Visual content should be used to help learners reach that end-game goal faster than if it weren’t there — think videos that go “inside” a piece of machinery or an infographic that breaks down average household income on a global scale. For simple or familiar concepts that most people can easily visualize, skip the pics.
  • There is such a thing as too many visuals. Everything in moderation, right? When creating training content you want to ensure your learner’s brain isn’t overstimulated with what it sees.
  • Consider how learners will consume this content. Who will be participating in the training program? Your sales team? Your field service techs? The SDR that works remotely several times a week? If you truly want to learn how to make training more effective, content must be mobile-friendly — with fast rendering times and offline access to ensure a seamless experience. 

It’s also worth noting that your media mix should be selected with mobile in mind.  Imagine trying to pinch and scroll your way through a novel on your smartphone between meetings. Consider how you might break up content into lessons (more on this momentarily) or use video or XR in place of long paragraphs. Maybe there’s an opportunity to add an interactive element to a particular lesson. The list goes on.

It all comes down to execution

You’ve got your words. You’ve got your pictures. Everything you need to capture learners’ attention and keep them hooked. 

Right? 

Well… not exactly. 

If you really want to learn how to make training more effective, you need to understand that design, delivery, and format are just as important as the words and pictures they contain.

A few things to think about:

1. Keep lessons short

Keeping the length of your training materials to a minimum is important to prevent knowledge loss. Make sure the content provided in training sticks by delivering information in bite-sized pieces. This process is known as microlearning

If you’re using a tool like Bigtincan Zunos, you might follow a framework like this one, outlined below, to break large chapters into smaller microlearning lessons. 

  • Make sure all information is relevant. 
  • Update statistics, graphics, company information, etc. and remove anything obsolete.
  • Use bullets and numbered lists when possible.
  • Divide up longer chapters into separate training sessions, focusing on one idea per lesson.
  • If you find a certain idea doesn’t quite fit, be flexible and consider whether it makes sense to cut it from the curriculum or create a dedicated resource for more clarity on that topic.
  • Turn complex information into graphics or videos.

2. Mobile accessibility is huge for engagement

Today’s workforce doesn’t stay in one place for long, and the number of people working from a home office is rapidly increasing — to accommodate the variety of locations people work from, your learning materials should be accessible on smartphones, tablets and on desktop. 

According to LinkedIn Learning, 52% of modern learners engage with training content at the point of need. 47% engage on nights and weekends, while another 27% catch up during their commute.

Despite the high demand for mobile learning, LinkedIn also found that many organizations still spend their training budgets on traditional, one-off seminars and classroom-based training. 

Beyond making sure that your training materials reflect the tech of the times, learning content should be accessible and searchable. Employees should be able to consult their reference materials as needed, brush up on some key points before a meeting, or make the most out of their morning commute.

Additionally, adopting a universal naming structure and implementing version controls ensure that everyone stays on the same page, even if a notification or two slips through the cracks.

The point is, employees shouldn’t have to hunt through content to find the information they need. With just a few taps they should be able to search and locate new information or pull up old learning materials to refresh their memory when needed.

3. Don’t forget design and delivery

How you present information is VERY important to your viewers. Looks matter — in some cases, they matter more so than what you have to say. 

The days of one-page PDFs are over. Today, presentation looms large over the user experience. People want their information delivered the same way as their favorite YouTube clip or Netflix show — consistent, high-quality content on any device.

Using sales enablement software, along with a modern LMS platform, can take delivery to the next level.

For example, you might notify your learners when that information is available by using push notifications or in-app messages. With just a few clicks you can create dynamic learning opportunities and reward those who do well. Because who doesn’t like a little recognition for the work they’ve done?

Engaging training content offers a personal touch

Everyone — including your veteran sellers and green trainees — faces mountains of incoming information each day. Very few of us have the time or mental energy to sort through all of it.

An estimated 90% of executives say they believe that personalized learning programs could be the key to closing the growing skills gap in the US. Organizations need to move past the one-size-fits-all approach to training, and instead, provide meaningful development opportunities tailored to each employee’s unique needs, weak spots, and professional goals.

Do some of your sellers need a particular training? Maybe your managers need updated documentation in the wake of some new privacy legislation. 

Okay, great. Make that information available to those who need it — and avoid clogging everyone else’s feeds and files with clutter that doesn’t help them do their job.

Employees will look forward to new training opportunities knowing that the information they receive was selected just for them — and, they may even stop tuning out critical information.

Wrapping up

By investing your time and energy into creating top-tier training content, seasoned employees and new hires alike will recognize the value in engaging with a learning program designed with their work habits and professional goals in mind.

Ready to take your training content to the next level? 

Click here to download our Complete Guide to Sales Coaching, Learning, and Training for 2020!