Recently I was listening to an interesting 'banter' from Tim Reid and Andrew Griffiths. Tim is the host of Small Business Big Marketing. Like I've written before, I think there are clear synergies between internet content marketing and our approach to developing content for workplace (on demand) learning.
In podcast 98 Tim and Andrew, amongst other things, talked about Bulls*** Bingo - described by Tim as (paraphrased) "when you're sitting in a meeting and someone is just pulling out fancy phrases and buzwords that sound really important, but when you think about what that person just said, there's not a lot of weight behind it." Tim's examples included - "Let's take it offline", "customer facing meeting", "a few quick wins". And, and from a listener - "strategise", "synergise", "outcome driven". You get the picture! Andrew explained how acronyms and corporate jargon disengage many listeners - the cliche's are overused and come across as flippant.
Tim & Andrew's comments reminded me of the corporate speak we see in many e-learns. Often there's a tussle of content ownership and approach between corporate comms, policy writers, subject experts and the instructional designer who simply wants to create palatable if not engaging e-learning that's real to 'how it is' in the workplace.
It's all about creating e-learning that comes across as genuine
The language and tonality of an e-learn is sometimes not thought about up front. Ask yourself:
- Who is the intended audience?
- How is the topic for the e-learn talked about in the workplace?
- What are the key messages that learners need to walk away with at the end of the e-learn?
- If the learner was asked to summarise the key messages from the e-learn, what would you want them to say? How do you want them to feel about them?
- How can the content be most simply expressed...in relaxed plain English!
The tonality and language of corporate e-learning shouldn't feel distant and remote to everyday conversations. It shouldn't cause the learner to think "Bulls***". It should be conversational and storytelling-like in it's approach. This is a very different writing skill to policy writing that your subject expert might be good at.
Be sure to jargon-bust your content (both text on screen and narration) before developing your e-learn. Always ask yourself "does this content sound genuine?"