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As I was preparing for the beginning of a new project, I considered different ways in which I could make the training successful. I thought back to some of the things I had read in the past, and one book came to mind, Made to Stick. It was written by Chip and Dan Heath back in 2007. I’d like to share my top 4 ideas from the book that I think are helpful for instructional designers.

1.  Keep things simple. One example of simplicity the authors gave is Southwest Airlines’ motto of being the low-cost airline. There’s nothing complicated about that, and it’s easy for customers to remember. The idea sticks. In all of my projects at eLearning Brothers, I have tried to keep the design simple for the learner and to look at the training through the eyes of the learner, not through my eyes as the designer. When I do this, I tend to find that I need to simplify things. This has helped me improve my instructional design and reduce potential learner confusion.

2. Make the learning concrete. An example from the book is movie popcorn. If you say that movie popcorn has 20g of fat, no one will take much notice. But if you say one large serving of movie popcorn has as much fat as bacon and eggs for breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak for dinner, all combined, it becomes more concrete for the learner. (It also makes me never want to buy movie popcorn ever again! Yikes!) But the idea sticks, doesn’t it? Utilizing learning aids, such as interactive infographics, comparisons to relatable items, and even analogies, helps to make the learning experience more concrete.

3. Invoke emotion for your audience. An example from the book tells about anti-smoking campaigners’ attempts to get teens to stay away from smoking. Rather than give statistics or medical information in their commercials, they filmed several vans pulling up to one of the tobacco company’s headquarters and taking out body bags (one after another, after another, after another) and leaving them on the sidewalk. The commercial plays on our emotions to get the point across. Invoking emotions causes the learner to realize, “Hey, this information is important to me, and I do care about it.” One of the focus points at eLearning Brothers as instructional designers is to help the learners understand that the training is important to them and help them have a positive emotional experience through the training.

4. Finally, tell a story. People like stories—and they remember them. The authors mention what Subway restaurants do to create interest in eating their healthy sandwiches. Instead of saying, “our sandwiches are healthy,” they introduce us to individuals eating Subway sandwiches and leading healthier lives. We can relate to these success stories and become motivated by them. Here at eLearning Brothers we use stories, scenarios, and real-world situations in most of our training. It helps the learners to better contextualize the information and apply it to their own situations.

Well, these are just a few of the ideas I wanted to share with you. The book’s topic does sum up what we, as instructional designers, are trying to accomplish—making ideas stick. If you’d like to work with our instructional designers on your next big project, swing over to our custom solutions page and fill out the contact form!

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