How to Appeal to the Senses in eLearning

, , , | Colin Dawson

In writing for learning, we don’t need to write sentences as poetic as Mr Wordsworth.

We can add a touch of poetry by using one or two sensory words . . . to make our writing more vivid and shape a stronger writing voice.

You can find opportunities to spice your writing up.

You can use them almost anywhere, in headlines, an introductory story, or product descriptions.

Last week I said I would publish some examples of how you can introduce sensory words to your writing for training.

Lets start with:

  1. A Standard Headline :      “5 Tips for Turning Boring Information into a Practical Tutorial”

With sensory words:        “5 Tips for Turning Drab Information into a Tantalising Tutorial”

2. A Product description without sensory words:  These long-lasting cabinets are made of  the best material, guaranteed for ten years.

With sensory words:  These cabinets remain squeak – and – creak free.  That’s guaranteed for 10 years

3. A sentence without sensory words from a Modlette Introduction:  “Imagine your writing is slowing readers down”.

With sensory words:  Imagine your learners trudging.  Their shoes feel heavy, squelch, sploosh, squelch, sploosh

4. A Customer Service Story:  The Customer approached the service desk, obviously unhappy and about to complain.

With sensory words:  If looks could kill, the Customer approaching the service desk had some very positive murderous thoughts in mind.

Sensory details inject a dose of personality into your writing.  They make your writing stand out, and help readers picture the scenes you’re describing.

Amplify Your Words With Sound Symbolism

There’s a little-known category of words that can make your writing even more expressive.  You may have heard of onomatopoeic words.  Onomatopeic words express a sound such as to squeal, woosh or  boom!

But there’s a different, more subtle category of words.  Words with sound symbolism are associated with specific sensory experience.

Examples:

  • Words starting with gl…. are associated with light, such as glint or glimmer.
  • Words ending with ….irl  or   …url  often relate to circular or spiral motion or shape such as curl, swirl, whirl, or twirl.
  • Words ending with ….ump tend to be associated with roundness or heaviness, such as lump, clump, hump, or rump.

Although words such as these tend to be used more in fiction, we can change all that.  We can use such words to make our writing for learning glitter and glow more brightly.

Then Truth About Captivating Your Audience

You can use the same words every instructional designer uses.

It’s a quick way to write a lot of text.

But you sound the same as everyone else, and the sameness dilutes your words.

Your message gets lost.

So try to release your inner creative and pick your words to entice and delight.

Decide to be a writing innovator.

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