Good content - we’re all after it in one form or another. Whether it’s for training our employees or reaching our customers, you need something that actually engages your reader and fast. If you're ready to develop content that grabs your readers’ attention and makes a real impression, keep these simple guidelines in mind:
Visuals Are Key
There’s no denying that in today’s digital age, visuals rule all. They dominate over words when it comes to delivering messages quickly and precisely. According to a Business 2 Community article, the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. This is exactly why social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram saw popularity explode almost overnight. Images are just effective, plain and simple.
Incorporating visuals into your training material instantly pumps life into your otherwise limp PDFs and training documents. Before you go filling your training with videos and images, there are some things to consider.
Use visuals when they help translate a message. Are you trying to walk your audience through a tough thought process? Or teach them about a highly technical or a complicated feature? Images or videos will make it easier for your learner to process. Save the simpler items to be described with words.
You can have too many visuals. There needs to be a balance. When creating content you want to ensure your learner’s brain isn’t overstimulated with what it sees.
Think about where your learner will be viewing the materials. Are you looking to mobilize your workforce and empower them to stay connected while on the go? You’ll need content that is mobile friendly. Heavier visuals will be more effective on mobile than large paragraphs of text. No one likes reading novels on their smartphone or tablet when they’re on the go.
Choose Your Words Wisely
Words are unavoidable when it comes to creating content. Just remember, when it comes to text: less is always more.
When writing content, consider your first draft a brainstorming session. Get all your words and thoughts down on paper, then go back and see how much you can cut out. Trim any unnecessary adverbs, lengthy descriptions or repetitive details. Use bullet points, numbered lists and plenty of white space so you don't overwhelm your audience with large chunks of black and white text.
Make your words sound conversational. It’s easy to get caught up in technical jargon, but that’s when your reader starts to disengage. If you're are an expert on a topic, you may be a prisoner of your own knowledge. While terms and language may be natural for you, they may not be natural for your reader.
If your content is instructional in nature, always ask someone without previous knowledge of the topic to read your content and put it to action. If they are confused, your audience will be too.
Finally, edit, edit and edit some more. Have multiple people proofread and give feedback on your content, so that it is error free and effective by the time it reaches your readers.
Make It Cohesive
You’ve got your words. You’ve got your visuals. You’re grabbing your learners' attention better than ever, right? Not yet my friend. You’ve got all the right pieces, but not the full package. Execution of delivery is just as important as creation of your content.
Humans gravitate toward a good story and better yet, they remember a good story. Make the information you share ebb and flow. Break your content up into bite-sized pieces, like small chapters of a larger book. If something you’re trying to convey doesn’t quite fit, be flexible and create a different piece of content to house that information.
Utilize microlearning techniques to push out your content. Instead of blasting your learners with information all at once, spread it out over a longer period of time. Microlearning allows for higher knowledge retention rates and better overall engagement.
Don't forget: design matters. Make your training materials visually appealing by focusing on quality over quantity. Images and video, don't automatically translate to engagement. Visuals and words will be more effective if they’re actually appealing. So skip that pixelated image and make sure you’re delivering quality material that reflect the time and energy you want your learner to give back to you. If you invest a little time in your content, your audience will be more apt to invest their time to engage with it.