Wordiness is, without a doubt, one of the biggest enemies of eLearning. Overly wordy content makes it difficult for learners to concentrate. Having more material to consume makes it complicated for them to judge, analyze and make sense of what they are reading. Indeed, studies prove that lessons with the fewer words results in more learning. But what exactly is wordiness? By simple definition, wordiness is defined as a way of telling something with more words than necessary. A common mistake done by eLearning course creators is the tendency to over-explain everything. If you are one of these people, your intentions are commendable; however, your end result will be that you will bore your learners to death.
In an earlier post, you got the low-down on how to find the right tone for an eLearning course. But writing in the tone that resonates with your audience is not just about doing one thing right. It starts from understanding your learners to identifying the language and the emotions that appeal to them. The tone you choose will inform all of your written copy, including instructions, feedback messages, scenarios and stories. You have to not only be authentic but also maintain a consistent tone throughout the course. For this, you need a guide, a checklist of sorts, that will help you be on track. Call it the Tone of Voice Guide. This guide will set the ground rules for how you should write in your eLearning course, keeping every screen and learning activity consistent from start to finish.
Do you talk to your audience or talk down to them? What does your eLearning courses read like? Like a text book that makes your audience doze off or an interesting story that they can't wait to read through? Do you come across as friendly, knowledgeable, and convincing in your courses or is there something about the way you talk that puts your audience off? The tone you adopt for an eLearning course isn't about what you say but HOW you say it and the effect it has on your learners. Learners may not see their instructors face-to-face but that doesn’t mean they won’t notice your approach. On the contrary, words have to work harder than ever if you don't want to lose your learners. In eLearning, text and audio are the only way to show emotions, personality, and training intentions. Besides, man is a social animal, and he likes to talk to other human beings. An advertisement from a "brand" or a list of instructions from a "business" is not as convincing as an endorsement from a friend or advice from someone trusted. The courses you create should read or sound like the kind and wise words from some such friendly and knowledgeable person who wants to help the audience. You should write in a human tone. Need some inspiration? Check out these articles: Why an Informal Tone Gets Results in eLearning Tone of Voice Matters (In Surprising Ways) Humanize Your eLearning Courses or Risk Losing Learners
If you scour Craigslist and LinkedIn regularly, you will often come across this ad: Creative instructional designers wanted. Requirements: Strong writing and storyboarding skills Ability to write engagingly for many different audiences Ability to convert "raw content" into crisp eLearning scripts Ability to explain complex concepts lucidly Ability to bring alive dull technical topics Excellent grammar, spelling and formatting Desire to improve skills by attending eLearning Webinars and joining Instructional Design groups Phew! It is evident that companies are on the lookout for instructional designers who can do more than just put together a bullet list of tips. They want people who can create evocative prose that touches the audience's hearts, appeals to their logic, and rouses them to action. They want creative writers and out-of-the-box thinkers. Especially, companies are looking for good writing skills. The ability to write well, they say, reflects the ability to think well. Your learners are crunched for time and have short attention spans. You have to create scenarios that are as riveting as a whodunit, dialogs that sound natural, and characters that seem as real as the average man on the street. However, you have to also ensure your script delivers the learning lucidly.