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Laurie Halter

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Why Your Brilliant eLearning Course has Zero Participants


If you’ve identified a need for training, specifically an eLearning course, as a way to enhance your products and better train your employees this year, you’re not alone. According to the 2014 Industry Report, 44% of companies intend to purchase some type of learning tool or system in 2015.  An online training course is a great way to provide key information to clients, drive traffic to your site, and increase brand awareness. 

Many times, companies jump right in and start assembling content or recording videos for training, without first identifying the key elements needed.  It’s like painting a room in your home. You want to see that shiny new paint on the walls right away, but if you don’t spend the time up front doing the prep work, (taping, cleaning, filling holes, etc.) the final outcome is likely to suffer.  Your choice is to either do it over again, or learn to live with a less than stellar final product.  Neither is desirable, so remember three things when kicking off a new training course:  Who, What, and Why! 



Who needs this information?  Identifying the audience is absolutely crucial for several reasons, the most important being how you develop the content. Keep it relevant to your audience. The last thing you want is a 3 hour page turner of a training course with people checking out after the first five minutes. Before you begin outlining the course, answer these questions:

  • Who is your audience? Why does a topic need to be covered in the course? 
  • What does the audience you’ve defined most need to know?  
  • Does the content provide value to the audience?


A wonderful by-product of clearly defining the audience, is it helps keep the learner seat-time optimal.  The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is very common because companies feel they get more bang for the buck, but the reality is learners check-out, close out of the course and rarely return. You work hard to drive those individuals to your learning content, make sure you hook them, so they keep coming back for more.  


What are you trying to convey or accomplish?  Another common mistake when first beginning a training program is throwing in too much information or a bunch of unrelated content.  Keep your training content focused and concise.

  • Is there a process you need to communicate?   Keep the training focused on the process and quit pointing out every button, icon, and method along the way. 
  • Give the learner one way to complete the task that works every time.  
  • When covering a new product, learners want to know two things: What is it and how will it make or save them money?
  • Cut to the chase.  If you are repurposing a recorded presentation, the learner does not need to know bios of the speakers and how to set up Webex. State up front who you are, how you can help and what they’ll learn.  Pretty simple, but often overlooked.



This is essentially the “What’s in it for me” question.  There are a couple of ways to best get this information across to the learner:

  • Set the hook early. For example, you can begin the course by asking, “Have you ever been in this situation?”  This type of question is very effective because when a good scenario is presented, people will immediately identify with the content. Your audience will put down their smart phone, tablet, or whatever else is distracting them, and realize they need to pay attention.  As soon as I hear this type of introduction, I am in. 
  • Be very clear about the content that will be covered, what the goals are, and the take-aways provided.  When this is done up front it sets the learner’s expectations for the course. 
  • Ensure the course or session actually covers what you say it is going to cover.  You don’t want people viewing a half hour training only to realize the two answers they needed were not covered.


While the tips above can help you plan an eLearning course that provides real value to your audience, they can all be distilled down into one central idea: always hold the leaner’s needs above all else.  Is the content relevant? Is it valuable?  Is it easy to find and access? And perhaps the most important question of all:  Would you want to sit through the course you just developed?  


Tim Halter is the COO and head of eLearning at Charisma! Communications, an auto-focused agency that offers public relations, video production and eLearning services. He can be reached at


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