3 strategies to turn boring topics into engaging content

If your role involves creating elearning, you’ve likely experienced that sinking feeling when you realise that the long, dense, dull manual that’s appeared on your desk is the content for your next elearning module. You want to create something snappy and engaging, but how do you make a seemingly boring subject interesting?
elearning engaging content

What not to do

The temptation is to break up the long pages into shorter chunks that learners can click to reveal, one at a time. Before you do this, it’s worth questioning why. There’s a common myth that clicks themselves are engaging when, in fact, too many can just get in the way. Consider what your learners really need to know to in order to improve their performance or change their behaviour. Remember…you’re working with a dry and boring topic so it’s worth being ruthless with cutting out any unnecessary content rather than hiding it behind layers of buttons.
Once you’re working with the minimum amount of content possible, you can focus on how to bring that content to life.

3 ways to engage your audience with a boring topic

1: Inspire people

‘Because you have to’ never inspired anyone to open their minds to learning new ideas. Instead, look for the purpose and the human side behind the learning, and try engaging your learners with that instead.
It’s the difference between:
In this course, you’ll learn about the new UK legislation on shared parental leave. Our company has a responsibility to comply with this legislation, so it’s important that you make this a priority.
And:
Last year, 696,271 babies were born in the UK, but only 9000 parents took shared parental leave, missing out on those precious early months. Thanks to Shared Parental Leave legislation, these numbers are set to increase. Be part of the change by equipping yourself with the knowledge to inform your team of their options.
elearning policy example
Elearning example: Policies and procedures (shared parental leave)

2: Make it relevant

It sounds obvious, but content can only be engaging when it’s written for a specific group of people. With endless content at their fingertips, your time-poor audience won’t stick around reading boring content that they feel is a timewaster. And nor would you want them to!
So it’s worth taking the time to create personalized pathways through a course for different sections of your audience. This doesn’t have to involve completely new content or wholesale rewrites; simply using appropriate terminology, referring to people roles correctly and removing pages that aren’t relevant for certain people can go a long way.

3: Make a connection

People are much more likely to remember and act on feelings, than facts. So to bring a boring, dry topic to life, try asking real people for stories about how they have been affected by the topic area you’re working with. Whether it’s an accident they suffered that could have been prevented by health and safety training, or a workplace success thanks to learning about a new process, give your learners a chance to connect with other people’s experiences.
If you manage to source some stories to use, it’s all about how you write them. To bring out the emotion, try writing dialogue rather than description, and feelings rather than facts. Get some practical tips on storytelling in this blog.

Final thought

As you try new techniques to bring your content to life, it’s worth testing your assumptions on what will work for your particular audience. A good authoring tool will provide data dashboards that allow you to track important stats like which pages get the most hits and how long learners are choosing to spend in the elearning. Combining this quantitative data with qualitative feedback from your users will help you cultivate your elearning and be confident that it’s truly engaging for your audience.
Need inspiration? Check out these awesome elearning examples

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