The thing that most people remember after they put down a good book is the cast of characters. They’re able to put themselves in the shoes of the hero or sympathize with their struggle. The same principles apply to online training characters. Carefully crafted personas enhance immersion and connect with your corporate learners on an emotional level. Here are 8 tips to develop interesting online training characters that captivate and inspire your remote employees.
1. Take Inspiration From Your Corporate Learners
The secret is creating online training characters that corporate learners can relate to and connect with. As such, you should draw inspiration from your employees to find the ideal traits and challenges. For example, problems they face every day or characteristics they should have in common with your online training characters. Conduct surveys and evaluate your LMS metrics to gauge their interests. Online training activities and modules with high levels of participation are great starting points, as they tell you what employees might like to see in the character personas. For instance, an online training simulation that pertains to problem-solving skills shows a surge in employee engagement. Thus, your online training character must overcome a workplace conflict and use their stellar communication skills to resolve the issue.
2. Impart Personality Traits
Every online training character should have their own personality. Maybe they are adept at interpersonal skills or amazing team leaders who are optimistic and motivational. Make a list of traits for every online training character so that you can keep track of their core qualities. Try to create distinct categories that cover the entire spectrum. For example, one online training character resonates with customer service employees while another forms a connection with your management team. You can also create online training characters for specific groups or job positions.
3. Create A Brief Backstory
Develop a short and sweet backstory for every online training character so that you can fully develop their persona. This may include a brief bio regarding their work experience and current aspirations. Backstories also help you assign personality traits and goals more effectively, as you’re able to get to know them on a more personal basis, even though they are just figments of your imagination.
4. Develop Sample Dialogue
Create a piece of sample dialogue for every online training character to use for your eLearning script. This allows you to find their voice and tone so that you’re able to create organic conversations between online training characters. For example, there may be certain terminology that an IT expert uses on a daily basis. However, this same jargon would seem out of character for a sales associate who is unfamiliar with tech issues.
5. Brainstorm Their Primary Motivations
People have their own sources of motivation. Different things drive different employees. Thus, your online training characters must have specific goals or aspirations that influence their behaviors and actions. These motivations also have a direct impact on their thought processes and decisions within the course narrative. It would make sense for a sales associate to want to hit their monthly targets, as it is a common motivator for their position. As such, every decision they make within the scenario ties into this primary drive.
6. Avoid Character Overdevelopment
You need to create a backstory for online training characters, but not to the point that they steal the show. Avoid overdeveloping your online training characters and explaining too much about their personal lives. For instance, employees don’t necessarily need to know what the online training character had for lunch or their weekend plans. Simply give them enough information to connect with the online training character without going overboard. In addition, bear in mind that this is online training and characters should maintain their professionalism. Don’t get too personal or provide too much info about their lives at home, unless it ties into the subject matter.
7. Turn Them Into Guides And Tip-Givers
Online training characters are often used in storytelling, simulations, and branching scenarios. However, online training characters can also become guides and advice-givers who impart insider knowledge. Transform them into course experts who pop up from time to time and provide feedback or insights. For example, show corporate learners where they went wrong and recommend online training resources after a simulation. The key is to give these guides just as much personality as you would give to a story protagonist. They should have their own traits, tone, and brief backstory. You can even begin with a story that introduces the guide and establishes them as fictitious industry experts. Then have them periodically check in with the corporate learner to share valuable tips.
8. Put A Face To The Name
Once you’ve assigned traits and motivations to your online training characters, it’s time to give them a visual persona. Use royalty free images to put a face to the name, or sketches that showcase their physical features. They should wear attire that suits their corporate rank and job position, as well as expressions that reflect their personality. For instance, a disgruntled co-worker who tends to have a negative outlook has a frown while an inspirational sales associate sports a smile in the photos. There is a caveat to using visuals, however. Employees may not be able to engage with character depictions that are overly specific. Try to include a good mix of visual representations to match your culturally diverse workforce.
These 8 tips can help you create a whole cast of online training characters to improve knowledge retention and employee engagement. Just make sure that you give them enough details to relate, but not so many that it causes cognitive overload. It’s also wise to include visuals that improve emotional connectivity.
Wondering how to make your online training more effective with the help of customer personas? Read the article The Benefits Of Using Customer Personas In Online Training to discover 4 tips on how to use customer personas in your online training courses.
About the Author
Christopher Pappas is founder of The eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry. Christopher holds an MBA, and an MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU. eLearning Blogger | EduTechpreneur | eLearning Analyst | Speaker | Social Media Addict