It pains me to think that people are working hard every day, and that if they slowed down just a little, they might learn something that will help them improve their performance and make not just their job, but their life, just a little bit better.
There are of course lots of reasons why people do not engage in learning, but two of the most obvious are there is not enough time, and it is too risky to spend time investing in learning when I might not actually get the improvement I want.
Which to be fair, are pretty good reasons. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone in my team investing valuable time in the fruitless pursuit of learning.
However, it is very easy to overcome both of those objections and help people not only understand if it might be worth their investment of time, but also to gain greater commitment from them to actually follow through with the learning.
That is through storytelling. The power of storytelling is in my view, undeniable. When you share a personal experience, relating the emotion, the journey and the outcomes, you hook people in. If they are in a similar position they start picturing themselves in your shoes and visualising how they too might get the outcomes you have achieved.
Quite simply you MUST have story telling as part of your overall Learner Engagement Marketing Mix. There are many ways to do this, not all will suit your organisation, but the bottom line is you do need to find a way if you want to increase learner engagement.
Telling their story
One key way I have found useful is to encourage delegates (or hand pick and invite key learners) to tell their story after they have consumed some learning. That might be in the form of a blog or an article in a magazine (on or offline), but get them to tell the story and then share it. I always ask them to include the challenge they faced and results they achieved by applying the learning, not just a story about the learning experience itself. That way, potential delegates can see quickly and easily why the learning worked and feel more confident that they could achieve similar outcomes.
Make it social
I like to experiment as well and try to capitalise on the way delegates already share their stories, Snapchat and Twitter for example. Whilst you might not want them to share on these actual platforms, it is quite a good idea to ask them to hold up a sign with some key learning to share with others, or sum up in 147 characters the number one difference the learning has made to them – I prefer for these posts to go on our own internal platform, so that we can share them around the organisation more widely.
If the culture of your organisation allows, I have found it quite interesting to create “Shout Outs” on internal social platforms, i.e. encourage delegates to share how they feel, or the results they get when they have applied the learning. In some places this is culturally not an option but in many others the learners love it. Just want to dip your toe in the water? Initially you might suggest it is only with delegates in the same cohort, but any key ones you could share more widely. This would also be a good way to get anecdotal evidence of ROI.
Ask your learning champions to record a video, highlighting their experiences of consuming the learning, and the difference it has made to them, and share that as part of your marketing mix. Peer endorsement goes a very long way. In the same vein, you can invite past delegates to road shows, Learning at Work Week etc., as advocates for specific learning events. Some people have more clout than others, and if you can find the person that others aspire to, having them share their views can have an even more powerful impact.
Expect the learning to be shared
Engineering, encouraging or just expecting people to share what they have learnt with others, just because, is a great aspiration to have, but it is also important because it reinforces the learning for the person concerned. Time and time again, people tell me that when they share their experiences with their colleagues formally, it actually reminds them how far they have come, reinforces the value for them (so they do it more often) and makes them feel proud of their achievement.
You could make it a regular agenda item on your team meeting - we call it “Learning in Learning” (sorry terrible pun!)- and at our monthly meeting we expect people to share something they have learned. The additional benefit, when they tell their story, is that we all understand their role and challenges better, which means we appreciate them more, whilst also learning from their experiences too.
We do that quite informally but there is also a place to task learners with sharing their more formal learning experiences - after all, if they needed it, found it useful, and have got results from it, odds are others in their team would too.
Lastly if you have invested in someone attending a conference or exhibition the very least you can expect back is that they share what they learnt or found out. Many people do that by writing a blog (which should also be encouraged), but bringing it to life personally is a great use of time and allows questions and further learning. So next time someone attends an Expo or seminar etc., be sure to tell them they need to make a note of key points and examples so they can share them with the rest of the team when they get back.
Once you buy into the concept of storytelling, you will find many ways that you can share those stories. The more impactful they are the more they will engage others, and the more engaged your audience is the more they will want, in fact, demand, learning.
Want to know more about how to increase learner engagement in your organisation? Get in touch with us today.
Stephanie Morgan is an experienced and engaging public speaker, with a keen interest in learner engagement and blended learning, so if you are hosting an event and are interested in having an industry leader in these topics present, please get in touch.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.
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