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Hast thou e’er been irritated whilst a comrade spaketh in o’erbearing tongues that soared right over thine pate?

Ahem! Sorry about that. Like I was saying, have you ever been annoyed to hear your friend speak in language that was far too formal for the setting? Infuriating, isn’t it? You’re at a nice party, just trying to enjoy yourself, and this maniac is trying to use an entire roll’s worth of word-of-day toilet paper in one sentence just so he can seem more cultured. What nerve the rapscallion possesseth!

Especially in Western culture, we have a tendency towards casualness. An increasing amount of offices are adopting much less formal dress codes. In air travel, we’ve gone from suits and dresses to jeans and t-shirts—and even pajamas depending on the flight. For better or worse, unless we’re going to an event that is specifically designated as formal (weddings, funerals, church, etc.), we just can’t be bothered to put on a tie anymore.

This extends to the world of eLearning. According to Richard Mayer’s “Personalization Principle,” people learn more effectively from eLearning with casual language as opposed to affected. Generally speaking, eLearners—especially those in corporate settings—likely don’t have a great deal of time on their hands. They either just started at a new company and are eager to be trained and get to work, or they have taken time out of their busy work schedule to learn a new skill. Either way, in most cases, they don’t want the course to be needlessly dragged out with purple prose. They just want to get in and out with the skills and tools necessary to do their job.

Be sure to speak to your audience in the language they prefer to be spoken to. Use the proper terms for everything and really try to teach them what they came to be taught, but don’t beat around the bush with unnecessarily snooty prose. Get to your point and make it. Your learners will thank you, bro.


12 Principles of Multimedia Series, #10

Enjoying this series? We have more!

#1 – Trimming the Fat for More Coherent eLearning

Next: #11– Rise Against Robotic Voice-overs

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