Heather is sitting at her desk, staring at her laptop.

It’s been twelve days since she has been commissioned to write this eLearning programme.

She desperately wants to get started but she feels stuck, overwhelmed and anxious.

She thinks of all the slick training programmes she has engaged in.

But what do you do when you start with some notes from an SME and an old paper-based training programme?

Is there anyone out there who understands her?  Someone who can reach through the screen, tell her it’ll be alright?  Someone who’s human.


Online, we’re often watching people’s slick training programmes

I get tired of people’s perfect trainings.  I notice how “experts” make learners feel stupid when they make mistakes.  I’m sure I’ve done it in the past to hide my own insecurity.

Fortunately, there are still training programmes where compassion lives, where people are real, where connections are made with learners, where trainers share both their successes and failures, both their flaws and strengths.

But I wish there were more “realness” online.  Less shiny perfection.  More flaws.  Less lecturing.  More reality and compassion.  More human imperfection.


How to write learning material like a human

Writing like a human goes way beyond writing conversationally.  Writing like a human also requires cultivating courage, compassion and connections.

  • We practice the courage to be ourselves, and to be vulnerable.
  • We foster compassion in our training – compassion for both ourselves and our readers.
  • We write to teach, but the human connection comes first.

But how?


Get rid of the shiny mask of perfection

Wholehearted trainers don’t write to impress, to feed their egos, to show off as being more expert than someone else.

The writer Brene Brown has spent two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy.

I used to think that sharing our flaws, weaknesses, and struggles would damage our professional image, but the opposite might be true.

I appreciate Brene Brown and her work greatly because she shares her personal stories, her own struggles to live more wholeheartedly, and her attempts to dare.


See your learners as equals

Wholehearted trainers do not write to impress or lecture.

Instead, they’re compassionate and connect from one human being to another human being – as equals.

During my career I have learned as much from participants in classroom training as I have probably delivered.

As trainers, we’re often told to build our authority so people become eager to listen to learn from us.  But being an authority doesn’t mean we have to be “the sage on the stage” to lecture and preach.

We can be human and compassionate in our “writing for training” and inspire our learners even more.


Develop your self-worth

One of our challenges is that our writing for learning can always be better.

It is like any skill.  A golfer can improve his driving, his putting and his mental game.  A violinist can improve her spiccato, vibrato, and the clarity of her tones.

But acknowledging room for improvement doesn’t mean we’re not good enough right now.  Tiger Woods is constantly looking to improve his game even though he is a legend in the game.  Even world class violinists still want to get better.

Struggling to communicate well is human.


You are not your work

Don’t tie your self-worth to the work you produce.

Don’t use the number of completed programmes and comments as a yardstick for your worthiness.

You are already good enough.

If your inner critic tells you that you’ve messed up and that you’re a bad writer of training material, be sure to correct him.  No one is bad at what they do.  All of us are learning to be better.  And all of us mess up sometimes.  It’s okay to feel disappointed by a lack of response or hurt by criticism but it does make you feel less worthy.

You belong here – like all of us your voice deserves to be heard.

Become a wholehearted trainer.