There is a very simple technique that makes sure you are not making training that ultimately misses the mark for your learners.  To quote Ogilvy; Know you audience, craft your message and then finally choose your medium. There’s a purpose to that order and it’s one often overlooked by today’s trainers and instructional designers. “Let’s make an explainer video,” doesn’t work if your audience doesn’t have any interest in having things explained to them for some reason.

“The medium of a text drastically affects its impact. The rhetorician chooses his/her medium to reach the intended audience and to have the intended effect. The message is the underlying meaning or purpose behind the text. … The audience is the specific public to which a text is directed.” — Alex Watkins.

Technology is offering us a very wide range of choices for our learning communications. In the last few months, we have developed a weekly micro-learning series for mobile, a monolithic Storyline project with speakers notes and supporting print materials, and amazing cartoon style training for a national food brand. Why? Because each and every audience is different; their needs, motivations,  and interest vary dramatically.

So how do we deal with the plethora of choices? We didn’t even mention VR, AR, Social Media, etc. The answer lies in an odd twist on what has become a form of mass communication. Load a module in your LMS and depending on the size of your organization there might be hundreds or even thousands of viewers.

Don’t address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them…” — David Ogilvy

The trick to engaging, entertaining and effective education is to understand your audience’s demographic and see them as individuals not a crowd. I love technology! I also know that low tech is sometimes the best way to go. Job aids sometimes trump VR for employees who are busy and just need a prompt near to the task. No one imagines that making a great latte needs VR, but a really well-executed job aid fits the bill exactly.

The takeaway? Don’t rush to choose the medium, these sexy tools will not go away anytime soon. Think more about the people you are training and aim to meet them in their place of work not drag them into the future.