Podcast | How To Build Engaging, Personalised Learning Experiences

Gary Stringer
March 18, 2024
March 18, 2024

When we asked 500+ L&D pros for their biggest problem area, they said this…

I want to build personalised, engaging learning experiences.

​So, we brought four four experts together, and gave them 15 minutes each to share their best practical advice.

Watch the episode


0:00 Srishti Sehgal on Context-Driven L&D
13:43 Rob Plumb on using engaging copy and storytelling.
28:19 Meghan Fraser-Elvira on understanding your culture and learners.
42:00 Bena Saiyed on running a root cause analysis.

Four expert lessons on engaging learning experiences

Create context-driven learning experiences with this framework - Srishti Sehgal

“Designing for everyone is designing for no one. It's very easy to get into content very quickly and get into the what and the how…

“What we end up struggling with more often than not is engagement or retention. And that's because we are starting from the wrong place. We're starting with the what and the how rather than the who and the why.” - Srishti Sehgal.

Sristhi recommends using the below approach to get a full understanding of the context and bring it into your learning experiences.

Learner: “Trying to understand who's the experience for? What are their needs? What are their wants? What are they looking for?”

Organisation: “A lot of times, this determines what the learner's behaviour is as well. So what motivates them? What are the incentives at play? What is the hierarchy? A lot of that influences what the learner will end up doing.”

Ecosystem: “Looking at what the trends are in that specific topic or space? How has this evolved over time?”

Apply these copywriting tips to connect with your audience - Rob Plumb

1. Address your audience as ‘you’ within your content

“I see so much learning content that refers to the learner, shall we say, as the individual."

But when you shift to talking to them directly..

“You're actually speaking to them. It's not someone else. It's not anecdotal. It's them. And that's so significant for moving away from being passive.”

Rob gave a great example of how this shift looks in practice.

👎 Individuals that give constructive feedback are more likely to unblock challenges and learn from mistakes more regularly.

👍 The more constructive feedback you give, the more likely you are to unblock challenges and the problems you face at work.

2. Give people something they can apply within the content

“Going from something that's like consume it, consume it, consume it, consume it, consume a bit more, then consume a bit more, and now give this a go.

“The way that we've changed it is that our content involves people much more quickly, so that you consume a little bit of information. Right, now go try this. Consume a bit more. Right, go try this now. And give this a go. And reflect in these ways.”

3. Share what people need, not everything you know

“It's really easy to get caught in telling the entire spectrum of a subject…but it doesn't really give you what your audience wants to know.”

“It's not our job to show people how much we know about a subject, it's to give them what they need to feel more confident at work, make better decisions, and get to where they want to be”

Rob shared a personal example of a learning plan that’s about emotional intelligence and primarily aimed at leaders.

“It would be easy to get caught up in doing really deep research into emotional intelligence, the psychology behind it, etc. And that just isn't useful for our audience. Our managers want to know: how do I lead a better team? And how do I be more there for them?

“And so it's much more focused on giving those tools in a way that best supports team members.”

Defining what engagement means in your business is a great starting point - Meghan Fraser-Elvira

“I freak out when I hear the word engaging because it is such a biased term, and it's really hard to measure. And we've done it to ourselves.”

Meghan’s right, we often use the term engagement without defining what it really means. And that’s normally her cue to dig a little deeper…

“Help me understand, what does engaging look like for you?... In the culture that I work in now, time is everything. It's about, what can I get the quickest and implement the fastest? 

“So when I think of what's going to service my employees in the best way possible, it's short, it's fast, it's searchable, it's bookmarkable.”

And if we use simple questions like the ones below, we can understand what engagement looks like in our context:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What do they need?
  • How fast do they need it?
  • Or do they need more time to think through things?

Meghan shared a great story on how making compliance training more ‘engaging’ led them into choppy waters (although there was a happy ending).

“I distinctly remember a client [who] had compliance training and they wanted it to be engaging… so a peer of mine worked tirelessly to put all the bells and whistles into this compliance training - it had pop-ups, it was beautiful.

“Presented it to the client, and the client was mortified. Like, how could you make a mockery of my compliance training? And it was because engaging to them meant they read it. They engaged with the content and could sign off on it.”

Run a Root Cause Analysis to build learning that solves problems - Bena Saiyed

“People are more committed to their training when they see what the problem looks like. When they see what metrics their performance is falling behind on, and how investing their valuable time in training is going to pay off on those metrics.”

That’s why we have to start with a root cause analysis, to find problems that need solving. Bena explained the three key questions you’ll need:

1. How did you realise this problem exists?

What are measuring right now that shows you it’s an issue?

E.G. “How did you realise that there is a problem with your staff's customer service skills? Was it a number of refunds? Was it the number of cancelled subscriptions or increasing complaints?”

2. How will you know that you have successfully solved this problem? 

What will things look like in the next six or twelve months when we have solved the problem? 

E.G. “Is it increasing renewals? Reducing the number of complaints”

3. How long do we have before this problem becomes too painful?

This last question is very important in conveying a sense of urgency and getting more buy-in. 

“And the last thing is share your findings with your employees. Remember, this is going to be a team effort. 

“Explain to them what the root cause of the poor customer service is, set a goal with them to improve the numbers, give them the training that they need, and aim to improve those numbers within a certain timeline.”

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