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Trainer’s tip: Making training manuals ‘sexy’


How do you turn a bland knowledge book - which makes even the trainer fall asleep – into a sexy, must-read? Various trainers offer their advice.

Sinead Walker asked: I am currently working on redesigning all training manuals for my company. At present these are very bland and unappealing. They are called knowledge books which immediately makes me want to snoozzzze! Has anyone got some suggestions on how I could brand this to be sexy?

Rus Slater offers some practical suggestions:
I presume that by 'sexy' you mean that you want people to actually read/use/refer to/value the manuals rather than file/bin/lose/use-to-prop-up-wobbly-furniture! If this is correct you could try changing the format that contains the material to:

  • a series of pocket sized handy guides
  • desk displays (Those things you get with cards in a CD case that stand on the desk- often used as marketing calendars)
  • laminated credit card sized how-to-guides that can be kept in a wallet or put on a key ring
  • Toblerone style box shaped stand-ups
  • greeting card or menu style stand ups
  • text messages
  • posters
  • those electronic photo frames with a scrolling slides show (these can be wall mounted TVs with sound or they can be the desk top ones you get from all the Christmas catalogues)
  • memo pads/sticky note blocks with a content header or footer

Sue Beatt says make it visually appealing:
Rus has come up with some great suggestions. However, if it definitely does have to be in manual form, you could make it more like an interactive workbook, with exercises, review sections, quizzes etc. You could make them visually more appealing by using symbols to represent things like Information; tips; Activities, exercises.

Try and keep paragraphs and sentences short. Do they need to read it all? If not you can put extra information in different coloured boxes so they know they can read it if they want but it's also ok not to.

Without making it like a children's book (although why not!) you can use colour and pictures/symbols to break up the pages so they look more interesting.

Jens Reineking suggests a Head First book could help:
If you have some time, buy a Head First book from O'Reilly for inspiration. These hefty volumes are actually designed for learning, not for reference. Most of the books are software related but there are some titles of more general interest. Especially the PMP Exam book appeals to a broad audience - and as an added bonus, project management skills and knowledge never hurt.

Richard Beaumont advises researching the problem:
There are some great ideas here, but I would suggest before you start adopting one or more of these - you need to understand the needs of your audience(s).

Do the manuals actually contain information people need or would find useful, if they knew it existed? If yes, and yet people are not using them - how else are they getting the information/knowledge?

Broadly I think there are two options - change the delivery mode of the content to align with the behaviour of the audience - putting it closer to their work activity so that it is less effort to access it. For example - put them online on an intranet. If you use wiki type software people can contribute to keeping the content up to date.

Or - and this may be unpopular but sometimes is necessary - change your processes to force people to use the manuals. Which approach you take will depend on how important the content is to the success of the organisation, and the kind of culture you want to promote.

View the original posting:

How to make training appealing

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