How to Write Sticky Training

| Colin Dawson

I’m sure you know the feeling.

A headline grabs your attention.  You sit down in anticipation of a good learning session.

But a couple of minutes into the training you start to wonder what it’s about.

What’s it about?

You’ve been taking in words on auto-pilot.  Nothing captured your interest.  You felt you were reading a 1980’s text book!

In today’s training world pixels are cheap and attention can’t be bought.

How to get our on-line (and other written) training, heard, understood and remembered?

  • Too often content is a dump of information.
  • Too often paper training is just copied into on-line content.
  • Too often writers produce content without considering their message.

To get your learners to remember your content; make your message crystal-clear to yourself first.  Do you expect the learner to take a specific action?  And why would she take this action?  How does your content transform her thinking?

Sticky messages are simple

You can summarise sticky ideas in one sentence.  We need go no further than the marketing copywriter.

  • The sales copy for the iPad Air2 helps justify a purchase by explaining how much better this new version is to the old iPad Air
  • The Kindle sales page explains why you need a dedicated e-reader
  • The Modlette e-learning platform makes creating your training so simple.

Sticky messages communicate with vivid words

Imagine selling petrol. Boring indeed?

How could you give Customers a sense that your fuel is better, faster, and more powerful than the competition?

How about:  “A tiger in your tank”

This Oil Company’s advertising slogan immediately conjures up an image of an athletic animal roaring and running.  That paints a strong image, right.

Now imagine writing training for an abstract concept like innovation.  How can you encourage team members to approach problems in an innovative way?

For one company we explained how we could build an innovation engine in 90 days.  We conjured up an idea of an engine humming to produce innovative ideas?  The concept of innovation is difficult to grasp, but an engine is tangible.

The trouble with the human mind is that we struggle to think in abstract concepts

So, to make your message sticky, you need to make it concrete.

”Concrete language helps people, especially novices, understand new concepts.  Abstraction is the luxury of experts” - Chip and Dan Heath.

Learners need to be able to feel or see your ideas.  And that’s why metaphors are so powerful.  Metaphors compare something familiar with something new.  They can make abstract concepts concrete, easy to understand, and memorable.

The Persuasive Power of Metaphors

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