How to Engage Hurried Learners

A couple of years ago I took a course on fiction writing (hopefully),

I wondered if it would help me with writing for learning so I fished it out.

And . . . ta da!

It was all there, a great writing technique that works even better for what we do than in fiction. And the great insight.

This technique helps write in a more natural voice, as in classroom teaching. It helps add authority, intimacy and pace to your writing

And it’s simple to apply. Too good to be . . .

In whose shoes are readers walking?

Reader/learners walk in someone else’s shoes to experience your dialogue.

For instance, if a text uses the first point of view, they’re experiencing the story as if walking in the shoes of the writer:

“At 3AM , I’m tossing and turning.  I try to push A’s hurtful message out of my mind, so I can fall asleep.    But it doesn’t work.  My body tenses up, and I’m getting fed up with myself.  My unease wakes the dog who wants to go outside.     Why am I like this?”

Stories often use the third point of view, allowing readers to get to know a person who is not the narrator of the story:

Hu oh.  Nicki feels sick.  She has been given a good topic for her next Modlette.  She’s sure her learners will find it interesting, and helpful.

But she’s sooo afraid her training narrative will be boring that she can’t start writing.”

And here’s the most interesting thing . . .

You can switch the point of view, and that switching adds pace to your writing and helps engage even hurried readers in this cyber age.

How to switch the point of view

As in our day to day conversation, we switch the point of view all the time.

  • First point of view:  I’ve written this training
  • Second point of view:   Have you done any Modlettes lately
  • Third point of view: Anna feels stuck and hasn’t written for learning for months.

The first point of view adds authority.  By telling stories in the first person, the author becomes part of the conversation.  Readers feel like they get to know the author.  That’s how you build authority.

When there’s no first point of view, readers may feel like the author is hiding.  So, try to include a few first-person sentences in each written section of your training.

The second point of view adds intimacy

Addressing your learner with the word you instantly makes your writing feel more intimate as you’re inviting the reader to join the conversation.

A monologue becomes a dialogue

I like using questions to address readers.  Sometimes, I open a Modlette with a question:  “Does your attitude pose a problem for you when dealing with Customers?”

Or at the end of a Modlette, I remind learners to apply a tip in their job.    “When dealing with an angry Customer your listening skills are your best weapon.”

We often think of our learners as a group of people.  But each learner reads on his or her own.  So, write as if you are addressing one special learner.  How can you pull this learner into your conversation?  Can you ask them a question or give an instruction?


We’re used to switching the point of view in conversation.  So, following the same principle will make your writing for learning feel more natural too.

Can you improve your written narratives by using these tips to engage your learners?`

Modlettes is so simple . . .  even Grandma can create them