Writing the Perfect Hook

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Stolovitch & Keeps (2011), in Telling Ain’t Training, provide an extremely helpful, five-step model for creating lessons that works for just about any training program. One of the five essential steps is to provide a rationale, or a what’s in it for me, for the learners.

Over the years, in reviewing hundreds of design documents and training programs, I’ve noticed that there is often no rationale to be seen or heard. The designers or facilitators generally know what the benefits will be to the learners, but they don’t always think to mention them.

To help us to avoid making this oversight, see the helpful list below, written by Kelly Konya, for essay writers. (For essays, we write hooks. For learning solutions, we write rationales.) Here are five ways to do that, with example rationales. (These are my examples, we can’t blame Kelly.)

  • Statistics
    In my experience, only X% of training programs start with even a quick WIIFM toward the start of each lesson. This can be a problem because….
  • Quotations
    “If the learner knows why she or he should learn something and values it, the research suggests that learners have a higher probability of learning it” (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011, p. 79).
  • Anecdotes
    The auditorium was full of people who were there to listen to one of the preeminent researchers in their field. He launched into a talk without establishing rapport or telling them where he was going or why. Sadly, as he said afterward, “I lost them.” Let’s look at ways you can avoid making that mistake.
  • Questions
    What do you think happens if people have no idea why they should spend their time taking a particular training? Do they dive in, pay rapt attention, and invest all they can? What do you think?
  • Statements
    Adults want to know why something is important. Before they will engage and learn something new, they want to know why it’s important to them, personally.

It’s not an automatic thing to think in terms of what’s in it for the learners. It helps to put ourselves in their shoes as much as we can. If we do this successfully, we will be more successful because our learners will be more invested. When that happens, then they learn more.

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