How do you use a conversational eLearning without compromising professionalism? It started with complaints about teenagers using the word ‘like’ as a punctuation. It progressed into media celebrities rebranding their unconventional diction as ‘upspeak’ or ‘HRI’. They now apply it as an identity marker, with camaraderie and pride. You probably don’t want to make every statement sound like a question just to boost the eLearning engagement factor. But you could benefit from lightening the tone of your training materials to connect with your target audience. By speaking ‘the people’s language’, training feels less like a stuffy textbook and more like a conversation among peers. This can make your trainees more receptive. They’ll understand their coursework better and remember more of it.
5 Insider Tips To Use A Conversational eLearning Tone
1. Read Your Material Out Loud
This is common advice when you’re working with scripts, but it can apply for online training too. Ask a colleague to read your content to you. Close your eyes and just listen. Does it sound like the voice or a real person or is to too mechanical? To go one better, have it read by someone you don’t work with on a daily basis. It should be a ‘blind reading’ where you don’t see the person beforehand. Based on their wording (rather than their voice), try to form a mental picture of the reader.
What do you think they’re wearing? What’s their job title? Where did they go to school? These are all tonal judgements, so they’ll tell you what your wording conveys. Then if it’s too uptown or too dude-bro, you can tweak it as needed. Use a thesaurus tool to replace any troubling words or phrases, scaling them up or down as needed.
2. Choose The Right Aesthetics
A conversational eLearning tone doesn’t just apply to the written word, but the audio and visual elements in your course. Such as narrations. For your audio clips and animated characters, choose carefully. You want to create characters that your trainees will relate to. But you have to be watchful. Dress your characters appropriately for their roles. Their wardrobe should be smart casual. Their appearance sets the tone before they speak a single word (or pop up a single speech bubble). Similarly, select appropriate voice overs. We can’t all be James Earl Jones, but it’s hard to take anyone seriously when they sound like Mickey Mouse. The ‘casual’ ambience is conveyed as much by voice quality as it is by word choice. Think of the mood you want to convey then pick a voice actor (and wardrobe options) to match.
3. Include More Dialogue
When we’re writing for a professional setting, we often fall into the trap of verbosity. We confuse being professional with using big, technical words. We use so much jargon that it starts to sound like a foreign language. Remember, the primary objective is to communicate in a conversational eLearning tone. You can’t do that if your reader needs a dictionary for every third word. Another common error is to sink into ‘lecture mode’ or make grandiose speeches. A quick fix is to review your material and convert the bulk of it into actual conversation.
Break a monologue into a ‘discussion’ between three or four characters. This creates a relationship, which can imbue your material with a more casual atmosphere. It breaks the information into smaller chunks that are easier to remember. And it gives your context to your content. This natural setting helps recall. So look at any suspicious block of text in your course and reframe it as dialogue. You could even present it as a texting-app exchange.
4. Get To Know Your Learners’ Voice
Tone is often a matter of perspective. While one person might think you’re being too casual, another might find your tone ‘stuffy’ or ‘superior.’ Which is why you need to get to know your learning audience and identify their definition of a ‘conversational eLearning tone.’ A variety of factors come into play, including their background, culture, and experiences. For example, seasoned sales staff who are used to meeting with clients may expect a tone that is more on the professional end of the spectrum. A conversational tone you might otherwise use would seem out of place or too personal.
5. Humor In Small Doses
Humor is a great way to lighten the mood and connect with your audience using a conversational eLearning tone. But you need to use it wisely to avoid causing offense or diminishing your professionalism. For example, puns can make your content feel forced or ‘cheesy.’ While too much sarcasm can off put learners and compromise your brand image. The secret is to strike a balance and only use humor when the occasion calls for it. Learners must be able to relate to the asides, which means that ‘inside jokes’ are usually out. Unless of course, it’s an industry specific pun that everyone will understand. Avoid controversial humor that alienates certain members of your group entirely. You want to create an all-inclusive learning environment. Not an online training course that makes them feel like they’re being singled-out in a comedy club.
It’s possible to make your course more light-hearted using a conversational eLearning tone without risking professionalism. The trick is to use human language and conversational word choices. Talk to your trainees instead or talking at them. Be friendly without being patronizing. Maintain decorum at all times, but be authentic, direct, and simple in your communication. You can achieve this balance by picking the right voice artists and reading your course writing out loud. Beware of ‘preachy’ content that shows off your range of technical vocabulary. Instead, convert your material into friendly dialogue that’s easier to absorb.
A sure-fire way to strike the right tone (and save time and money) is to hire a content creator to tackle the task for you. Use our free online directory to find the ideal outsourcing partner for your next project. You can also find top notch tool vendors, voice over artists, and translation service providers.