Podcast | 5 Golden Rules For Creating Great Learning Content

September 15, 2022
June 26, 2023

No tricks, no clickbait – this episode really gives you 5 rules to take away and apply to your learning content today! Why?

​Because creating great learning content trips up businesses time and time again! And if we understand why, nail the context and follow some simple steps with consistency, L&D can deliver resources that drive performance.

Easygenerator Co-Founder Kasper Spiro joined us live and you can expect to learn why context is just as important as content, how to optimise content for discovery using marketing techniques, why best-fit content beats the best-produced content, and so much more.

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Running order

0:00 Why creating great content often plagues L&D.
4:17 How to use internal experts for content creation.
16:02 Think context, context, context.
26:05 How to make content discoverable.
33:20 Curate where you can, create where you need to.
40:03 Timing and relevance beat content perfection.
46:28 Audience questions.

What are the 5 golden rules for creating great learning content?

Nelson spoke for every victim of bad learning content when he asked this question:

“How is it that there’s so much great content we consume across platforms, but the content I’m given to do my job is so terrible?”

We might soldier through bad content when it’s mandatory, but remove that obligation and poor content drives learners away. In those situations, neither side is winning!

And in a world that’s evolving at such speed, we simply can’t have ineffective and unengaging learning content. Hopefully, these five rules help you avoid that trap.

​​Rule 1: Use internal experts to keep content relevant and up to date.

Companies often take either a regulated or democratised approach: The idea of L&D taking full responsibility versus giving people free rein to create content. As always, the solution sits in the grey area between.

L&D can take on the role of facilitator. Initiate the topic, help with design, act as an editor and co-author without taking over the creation and maintenance process.

As Nelson points out, trust is possibly the biggest thing here.

Too many L&D teams say they want to drive user-generated content but ask for an approval process for each piece of content. This makes L&D a bottleneck in a different way, shifting from gatekeeping content creation to controlling its approval.

Knowledge is being created too fast for L&D to approve everything, so we need a mindset shift. View it as a community that needs to be moderated instead! And communities tend to moderate themselves, letting you know if content is out of date or simply not useful.

“L&D’s role becomes setting the guidelines for the types of content we should be creating, how to go about it so it has the biggest impact and is meaningful to the learner… [As L&D] you can educate and empower internal experts to do it in the most effective way.” – Nelson Sivalingam.

This is how you create a company brain, where people’s knowledge is captured, made available to others, and won’t head out the door with them if they leave the organisation.

“If somebody in your company has a question, somebody else probably has the answer. And if somebody has a problem, somebody else probably has the solution. And that’s what you want to achieve.” – Kasper Spiro

​Rule 2: Think context, context, context.

“Like a fish out of water, learning content that’s designed without the context doesn’t last long.” – Nelson Sivalingam.

When content doesn’t work, L&D tends to think the content is the problem – it needs to be more engaging or interactive. But they don’t consider whether it’s a good fit for that moment of need or those moments that matter.

These are situations where connecting someone to relevant content shapes their performance.

Macro moments: For example, I’ve just become a first-time manager and the right content can really shape how I perform.

Micro moments: Maybe you’re on a call with a potential customer and they ask a question. Knowing the answer to that single question can shape your performance on a smaller scale.

And there are factors to take into account when you’re creating content for those moments that matter:

  • Environment: Audio content wouldn’t work for people in noisy environments, for example.
  • Technology: Which tools do people have access to in moments of need?
  • Time: If someone works on a shop floor, it might need to be minutes long and available on a mobile device.
  • Activity: What else is that person doing in the moment that matters? Are they interacting with someone or using a machine – you need to consider how much of their bandwidth is being used and create content with that in mind.
  • Organisation: What’s the culture like? Do people have the psychological safety to learn without fear?
  • External environment: What’s happening in your industry that influences the content you create?

​Rule 3: Make it discoverable for the people who need to discover it.

We’re living in a world where content is cheap and abundant, and so discovery becomes our biggest problem, not creation. We have to consider how we help people find the most relevant content.

Write better headlines

Use the Four Us to convey the value of content and ensure it gets found and engaged with.

  • Useful: Explain how it’s useful to a specific audience or in a specific context.
  • Unique: What makes this piece of content different? Differentiate it among the search results.
  • Ultra-specific: Details! Which problems does this specifically solve? Make a promise to the learner.
  • Urgency: In an L&D context, it’s more useful to think of this as timing or timeliness. Is it clear WHEN this will be useful. For example, is it the 2022 price list or the pre-event communications plan?

Conduct keyword research. Which language does the learner use? Content and search results need to match user intent if that content is going to be discoverable.

Try to avoid echo chambers. Algorithms recommend more content based on what we’ve consumed before and that can pigeonhole us. Kasper believes that it’s people who can break us out of these bubbles, using an aggregator or facilitator to recommend the right content to us.

This won’t replace search but adds value in a different way. Word of mouth is still one of the oldest and best tricks in the marketing book.

​Rule 4: Curate where you can, create where you need to.

“Before you start creating content, you need to think about a few things: Is this a learning issue that I’m solving… If learning is the proper way to solve the problem, what kind of learning do we need?… And is it already out there? If it is, use it.” – Kasper Spiro

Nelson provided a great three-step framework for curating content: Aggregate, filter, enrich. Think of it like creating a mixtape for a high school sweetheart…

Step one – Aggregate

Bring together all your favourite songs. In an L&D context, this would be blog posts, YouTube videos and other existing resources.

Step two – Filter

Picking out those songs with a special meaning. This equates to finding which resources are relevant for the context you’re working in, which isn’t just an L&D job but one for the whole business.

Step three – Enrich

Recording those little intros and outros to personalise the songs and explain why they’re included. In the workplace, this could be highlighting relevant things within a resource or contextualising why it’s useful for your business through additional content.

​Rule 5: Timing beats perfection: Deliver content when it matters.

Nelson gave a great example of when his boiler broke down to prove why timing and relevance beat perfection every time.

The warning light comes on, he turns to YouTube and finds a really poor quality video – filmed on a phone with a terrible angle – but it explained how to solve the problem in 30 seconds. Millions of views, loads of positive comments and the production value didn’t matter at all.

“When you’re in those moments that matter and you have a challenge, getting the right content makes all the difference. Relevance is more important than the production values. Speed over perfection is what matters!” – Nelson Sivalingam.

As Kasper rightly points out, YouTube and TikTok are the biggest learning platforms in the world! And they often use very little production…