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Creating Engaging Content

5 proven ways to punch it up

In online learning, we’re always one click away from the window closing. What are you doing to compel learners to stay? Bells and whistles will have little effect if you don’t first create engaging content. These five strategies will turn blah into hurrah!

1. Offer Transformation

Fundamentally, your learners don’t come to you for information. Information is ubiquitous. But they will come clamoring for a transformation. Identify what problems your target audience is trying to solve and design content as their solution super highway. What do your learners need to bridge where they are to where they want to be? Build that content bridge. Solve a specific problem. And don’t just market the event, market the transformation.

What’s one problem your target audience is eager to solve?

2. Grab the Eye

We are all visually biased. Our brains process images much more efficiently than words, attaching meaning and emotions which strengthens recall. Vividly describing the layers of teeth in a shark’s mouth is not nearly as effective as showing you. You see it and understand it. Studies show visuals have the power to enhance learning or cripple it – so choose wisely! Use images that your target audience will identify with. Mix in graphics depicting processes, concept relationships, and content hierarchy. Curate content into scannable and shareable infographics. Use animation and video to tell stories and demonstrate skills. Put your visuals to work inspiring curiosity, managing cognitive load, and deepening learning.

How could visuals extend understanding about the solution you’re offering to your target learner’s problem?

3. Design Experiences

Online learning offers us an exciting array of opportunities to build active learning experiences. Passive formats lead to screen toggling and window minimization. (Don’t do it!) Let’s think about that one problem your target audience is working on that might make a great eLearning opportunity. Now, think past clicks and gimmicks and consider how to design your content to engage your audience around the steps they’ll need to make to reach their transformation. Consider case-based scenarios, trial and error formative assessments (with feedback), video responses to common questions, reflection and application exercises, discovery opportunities – like additional resources to explore. Each piece of content must be designed to contribute to the overarching goal of facilitating your target learner’s transformation. Allow them to interact with the content to aid deeper reflection and personalization.

Thinking beyond what you’d like learners to “know” about your topic to what must they be able to “do” to see results of that knowing? What types of learning experiences must you offer to make that possible?

4. Feature Tools-To-Go

True learner engagement reaches beyond inspiring interest and holding attention during a lesson all the way into applying new knowledge and skills in practice. Because that’s where learning is cemented and lands an actual impact. This means we must focus attention on what happens after a presentation. If the content is about a vetted process, offer a downloadable step-by-step model. If the content is about an ingenious way to diffuse conflict in a meeting, offer a conversation template. Prepare downloadable resources that distill content insights into application tools. Instead of posting a slide deck (or slidument), give learners what they really want: a tool that makes this content matter when it’s time to use it. PS: Tools and downloadable resources help sell courses.

What tools could you offer with your transformational course for learners to try, practice, or self-assess?

5. Offer A Next Step

When a learner finishes your eLearning course or hangs on to the end of a webinar, what’s their next step? Chances are there’s a lot more to learn about the subject and you may already be offering that content in other programs. Don’t keep that a secret – invite your learners to the next step. A low-tech approach: at the end of each program offer links to curated content (blogs, podcasts, archived articles, other courses, on-demand webinars) and invitations to upcoming programs within the topic area. If you enjoyed this program, you should check out …. Even better, proactively plan how to treat a topic across your education and communication channels over a year. Promote this learning pathway as it unfolds while curating each step for review along the way. No more one-off events. Ensure there’s always a next step to keep your learners returning for more.

What content do we have on hand that we can curate for next step exploration? How could we coordinate learning pathways to maximize channels supporting learner transformation?

Transition your content from informative to transformative, designing experiences that facilitate change – and watch your learners stick instead of click away.




Tracy King, MA, CAE

As Chief Learning Strategist & Founder of InspirEd, Tracy leverages her more than 17 years in the education industry for associations interested in increasing their relevance and revenue with meaningful live, online, and mobile learning programs. Tracy specializes in the intersection of learning science and technology. She’s a thought leader in education strategy and learning experience design. In addition, Tracy offers training to instructional design teams, content experts, and at conferences. Learn more at or

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