Course designers spend a lot of time writing, whether it’s scripts, scenarios, test questions, definitions, technical content—the list goes on.
So it goes without saying that solid writing skills are key. But good writing is more than just correct spelling and proper grammar. It’s about engaging your learners. Here are some tips to help you boost your writing skills to create e-learning that makes an impact.
Lead with a need
Before beginning any e-learning project, find out why this course should matter to the learner. Define the problem you’re trying to solve before writing the first word.
From there, you can begin writing course objectives to bridge the gap. Course objectives help you, the e-learning designer, ensure you cover what’s needed. But how can you communicate the purpose of a course so learners feel compelled to take it? Rewording course objectives for the learner can give them a reason to engage with the course.
For example, if you were creating a course for customer representatives on dealing with angry customers, your objective might look like this:
At the end of this course, you’ll be able to respond to angry customers using three different techniques to resolve customer concerns.
When communicating this objective to the learner, however, try wording like this:
Have you ever received a call from an upset customer and weren’t sure how to respond? What made it difficult? In this course, we’re going to explore three different techniques you can use to resolve their concerns in a positive way.
See the difference? The second version gets learners thinking about a difficulty they’ve faced in the past and then offers them a solution, in the form of a course. Learners are much more likely to engage when they see and identify with a need.
An interesting course introduction can grab a learner’s attention in a powerful way. When you pull learners in, they become invested in working through and completing your course.
Here are three different topics you can begin with to engage learners from the start:
- Present a workplace challenge. Starting off with a scenario or a real-life problem that learners face on the job can make the content relatable.
- Lead with interesting facts or statistics. Sharing these details in your introduction can make learners want to take your course.
- Tell a relevant story. Including a story can bring the content to life outside of a computer screen.
But engaging the learner doesn’t stop with the start of your course. Use these techniques throughout your course and finish with a strong closing that circles back to the learner’s original motivation for taking the course.
Talk to them
Address learners directly. An informal writing style is more personal and makes the content more relatable. Learners want to feel you’re talking to them, not at them.
Instead of: “Customer representatives should actively listen to the customer instead of thinking about how they should respond.”
Try: “Actively listen to your customer instead of thinking about how you should respond.”
By talking directly to learners, you connect with them, making it easier for them to internalize and retain the content.
As you write directly to your learner, here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Keep it short and simple
- Stick to one idea per sentence or slide
- Ditch complicated words and “industry speak”
To dig deeper, check out this article: Personalization Principle: Speaking to Instead of at Your Learners.
Editing your own work is hard, but it’s a great way to improve. One way to go about it is to read your writing aloud. Your brain processes information differently when you read aloud, so it’s a good way to catch issues like:
- Mistakes. You may have already read over your course several times in your head, but reading it aloud makes it easier to find misspellings, awkward phrasing, and sentences that don’t work.
- Poor pacing and rhythm. In the same way you can hear a wrong note played in a song, reading aloud will help you identify content that feels out of step with the course as a whole.
- A style that’s too stiff or dry. Getting tired of reading your own training aloud is a good sign that it’s too formal in tone.
These are just a few ideas to help you create e-learning that has an impact. For more writing tips, check out these helpful articles:
- Top Writing Tips for E-Learning
- 5 Tips to Improve Your Technical Writing Skills
- 4 Tips for Writing Effective E-Learning Scenarios
What writing tips do you have to create an impactful e-learning experience? Please leave a comment below!
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