Posted by CustomGuide on June 27th, 2012
Sometimes trainers can get stuck in a rut when writing training courses. The tone can become monotonous, or the way to approach things is unclear. But a little shift in your approach can rejuvenate the way you think about things. So here’s a trick we often use to get us over a stumbling block: write like a journalist.
Newspapers certainly aren’t new; they’ve been around for over 400 years. But clearly they are doing something right. They have evolved over the years to remain appealing to people from across generations, income levels, and backgrounds. They’ve done this by updating their writing style and layout for mass appeal.
Training has a few similarities to newspapers. Trainers also have to cater to a diverse audience, and they have to create and lay out the content so it’s appealing to that audience. Given the success of the newspaper, why not take some cues for your own training?
Grab attention with informative lesson names
When you read the paper, you scan its headlines for an overview of the day’s news. “Man sentenced to 12 years for Ponzi scheme,” or “City Council approves property tax hike for 2013”. Sometimes the news from the headline is enough and you don’t need to read any further. Other times, you might want to read more to find out how the news happened. Headlines present lots of information in a way that’s easy to digest.
Lesson or tutorial names should be equally informative. When people take training, they want to know the purpose of the lesson before they take it. They want to know how the lesson is going to solve their problems or answer their questions. For example, instead of naming the feature highlighted in the lesson, such as “Using the Mouse,” highlight the outcome of the feature: “Pointing, Clicking and Dragging Items on Your Computer.” Sharing the purpose of the lesson, instead of just naming the feature covered, gives people a reason to be interested.
Putting first things first: Article structure
The structure of a newspaper article is also something from which trainers can borrow. The first sentence is always the lead, which summarizes the most important facts of the article. The rest of the article explains these facts in greater detail, in order of decreasing importance.
Lessons and tutorials can be structured the same way. Begin with an introduction that provides context and meaning; explain the purpose and objective of the lesson. What will people get from this? Why should it matter to them? Then go on and flesh out those objectives for the remainder of the lesson. This guides people as they learn, letting the lesson unfold in a way that’s easy to follow.
So next time you’re looking for ideas to rejuvenate your approach, try putting on your reporter’s hat. You might find that it’s a great way to up the mass appeal of your lessons.
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