We sat down with Julianne Mullins, the Technology Instructor at The Training Associates, to debunk the myth that creating training content takes a great deal of work. Julianne has been a trainer since 1996; her previous experience has been with SoftBrands, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, as well as the US Army. In her previous experiences, she worked heavily with hospitality software for hotels, restaurants, spas, and more, as well as developing training videos, websites, and curriculums.

“How can I make training fun?”

When training multiple generations, it’s best for training leaders to that they are being inclusive of everyone. Priscilla Olgin of Shake Shack states “We have four generations in the industry at the moment; the boomers who's the biggest form of communication is email and the Gen-Z that relies on texting. We have to create content that's going to engage everyone equally, but not alienate anyone either.” Julianne suggests telling stories as the number one way to make your content and your training more engaging.

Focus on Engagement

E-Learning Industry reports that 38% of managers believe that their programs meet learners' needs [1]. One theory for how this could change is by focusing on engagement rather than fun. Julianne agrees. “I have found that ‘engaging’ is a better word than ‘fun’. I had an external customer who paid for services where fun generated feedback that it was disrespectful of money and time in the training room.” She added that identifying an audience profile and understanding who you are creating for can help ensure that you are keeping training fun and engaging. Engaging training is applicable to every settling while “fun” is not.

When curating instructional design, Julianne quotes Ben Franklin “tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn” and goes on to advise to start with the “why we are here today”, staying away from long drawn out “why.” The cornerstone of effective training is to meet the learners where they are. The Exploratorium uses this technique as well for their teachers. They realize that not all students and classrooms are the same— leading to them being taught differently. This is a ripple effect on the teachers and their needs as well [2]. “Meeting kids where they are and helping them get to the next level.”

Feedback Provides Data

One of Julianne's common practices is to implement feedback from her training into future deliveries. Applying feedback in a timely matter is essential to successful training. Every room, every person, every vibe is different and the training should be able to mold to the room. To maximize survey completion, Julianne has her students do feedback before they leave the classroom. This gives her more data for her to learn what is engaging and what can use some tweaking.

Making Training Concise

We live in a TikTok world; the average attention span is shrinking. People need to be engaged immediately and continuously in hopes of effective training. Julianne stresses the necessity to “chunk it down. No one thrives from being overwhelmed with too much content too fast.” The Journal of Applied Psychology found that when people learn smaller amounts of material at a time, the transfer of learning is 17% more efficient than when they are expected to learn more material at once [3].

Julianne left us with some advice for those going into the learning and development (L&D) field: You don’t have to be the smartest one in the room. Instructors can think this often which can cause non-listening skills to manifest, increase nerves, increase “control measures” in the room when it isn’t necessary, and creates a closed environment. It’s ok if you don’t know the answer. It’s ok to ask other learners. It’s ok to check with a subject matter expert or test the software later for the answer but just make sure you get back to the learner with the answer and copy all who were on the roster in the class so they know too.