I spoke recently about authenticity, and how the behaviours you instil in your personal and professional life can be reflected in your content. With this in mind, let’s talk about the ways you can connect with the reader through the content. Specifically, we’re talking about learners, and how to explain concepts and ideas to someone entirely new to the topic. These principles can apply when you’re producing any kind of content, but bring particular value when you’re creating content with an educational focus.
Focus is important, and sticking to it like an anchor will keep you on track. Once you have identified the focus of your content, keep these techniques in mind to ensure that what you create really connects with the learner.
1. Use analogies
The analogy is one of the oldest learning methods in the known world — with records as far back as Ancient Rome of it being used as a tool for learning. The architect-engineer Vitruvius used it to help him design a theatre, and since then, it has been used in the world of science to help people understand new ideas.
And what worked then still works now as they are broadly used by teachers in academia, by inventors to find solutions, and as a brainstorming technique by creative designers. Going beyond that, we can see the use of metaphor (a type of analogy) in the arts — with films and television providing dramatic examples to relay powerful, universally-relatable messages, and in the world of sports where a collection of individuals have to work as a team to overcome an obstacle. It’s all about using one example to reflect aspects of another — like a mirror!
Analogies are also prevalent in written content — especially educational content. And with good reason.
The idea is that learning is easier once you already have an existing foundation of knowledge. If we use that foundation of knowledge — and add to it as we accumulate information over time — when we compare separate ideas or concepts we can identify similarities that they share. For this reason, analogies are one of the most effective instructional tools that we can use.
Struggling to explain a concept? Highlight a separate concept and discuss features that the two have in common.
2. Strip concepts to their bare bones
The easiest way to understand anything is to break it down to the nuts and bolts. For instance, a car could be seen as a complex concept when you first consider it; with a level of mechanics that is incomprehensible to most and even abstract to some. But break a car down to its nuts and bolts and you’ll find that it’s not that complex at all.
Breaking a concept or idea down like this, and taking the time to help the learner understand each individual part, and how they contribute to the overall picture, will help them understand the concept as a whole.
Consider this when you’re trying to explain a new idea that may seem a little complex. Imagine if you were learning a new idea — what would be the approach that you would benefit from? This ties into the next technique.
3. Personalise it
The more you cater to the intended reader, the more value your content will have for the reader. Creating content targeted to mass consumption can broaden its reach, but ultimately dilutes the potency of its impact when it reaches a consumer.
At Yarno we create bespoke content for our learners, and understanding who our learners are is an important part of the process.
Actually, it’s not just important. It’s really, REALLY important.
We work with a wide range of learners, and we respect that there are different learning needs. That’s why we take the time to build rapport with the companies we work with, and use this insight when designing our campaigns.
Understanding who will be reading the content is just as important as its topic. This should be part of the focus you establish at the beginning, and something worth referring back to often to keep it tied to its initial focus.