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Christopher Pappas
By Christopher Pappas | May 2016

5 Tips for using Power Words in eLearning | Christopher Pappas

We are delighted to welcome Christopher Pappas, founder of eLearning Industry as a Guest Blogger to the PulseLearning Community Blog.

Does a simple word have what it takes to turn an eLearning course into an unforgettable eLearning experience? In this article, I’ll explore the basics of power words and offer five tips on how to use them effectively in eLearning.

How to Use Power Words in eLearning: Five Tips for eLearning Professionals

Words hold immense power over the human mind. They have the ability to make us feel, to make us change our perspective, and to transform our eLearning experiences into amazing life-changing opportunities. So, it’s only natural that a select few words are a perfect fit for eLearning courses and virtual training events. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about how to use power words in eLearning.

What Are Power Words?
There are certain words that grab our attention, evoke an immediate emotional response, or motivate us to take action. These are known as power words. The reason why they are so powerful is because they trigger a specific response in the human mind, prompting us to feel a particular way or act out a desirable behavior. For example, if you were to read the word “fervent,” you may instantly feel empowered and passionate about your pursuits. It is a strong word that is compelling and inspiring because it implies a sense of urgency and determination.

Essentially, power words give eLearning professionals the opportunity to achieve the desired outcome and help learners get the most out of the eLearning experience. They also allow us to significantly reduce the amount of text we must provide to create effective eLearning content. When it comes to power words, less is more. If you select your power words carefully and use them strategically, you can liven up your eLearning course and make it more meaningful for your audience.

How to Use Power Words in eLearning

1. Make it personal.
Above all else, the most important aspect of integrating power words into your eLearning course is to cultivate a learner connection. Get them emotionally invested in the eLearning experience by using words that are personal in nature, and immediately get them to take notice. “You” is a perfect example of a personal power word. It may seem simple enough, but these three letters have the ability to draw your learners into the eLearning course and motivate them on an intrinsic level. eLearning professionals may not be able to address their learners by name throughout the eLearning course; however, using “you” is almost equally effective. It gives learners the sense that you’ve created the eLearning course just for them, with their goals and needs in mind. They can then better connect to the subject matter. Personal words also make them aware of the fact that you acknowledge they are an individual, rather than just another member of the audience.

2. Prompt them to take action.
If you create eLearning content that features long blocks of text and words that simply blend with one another, you are likely to bore your readers instead of inspiring them. On the other hand, if you use action words that immediately pull them in and prompt them to take the desired action, they will instantly feel compelled to participate and pursue the learning objectives. “Activate” and “connect” are two examples of action words. In essence, you are infusing energy into your eLearning content and helping the learner to build a deeper connection with the subject matter. Their brains may even carry out the action without even thinking twice. Action power words are often used in marketing because our minds are hardwired to respond to them when we see them on the screen. For example, “click here” or “act now” may prompt us to immediately follow the online instructions.

3. Use vivid imagery.
Sometimes, power words can be something as mundane as a descriptor or adjective, as long as they are used in the right context. For instance, describing the texture of an item or a smell in the air will automatically trigger our senses. We immediately smell the pine or feel the texture of the blanket on our fingertips. Vivid imagery can transport us to a place without even stepping away from the computer screen. They are often most powerful when used in eLearning stories or branching scenarios that require learners to immerse themselves in a situation.

4. Avoid subjective words.
While power words can build a connection, subjective words can actually alienate certain members of your audience. These are words that mean different things to different people. For example, the words “easy” or “simple” are completely subjective. The truth is that some learners may feel as though the eLearning module is easy and complete it within a matter of minutes, while others may struggle with the subject matter and take longer to finish it. When these learners are instructed that the module should be “easy,” this may give them the impression that they aren’t as intelligent as their peers or aren’t up-to-par when it comes to skill development. As a result, they will disengage from the eLearning experience or become so frustrated that they simply give up. This is why it’s imperative to avoid subjective words at all costs when creating your eLearning course content.

5. Stay positive.
Words like “amazing” and “wonderful” automatically make us feel happy and fulfilled. These are affirming words that exude positivity and optimism. Even if we are feeling down, they have the power to uplift the mood and let us know that we are on the right track, especially when they come in the form of praise for a job well done. Learners who are distracted and simply unmotivated to learn will even respond to a positive power word on a subconscious level.

Connect with your learners on an emotional level and draw them into the eLearning experience by using these power words. Just remember that they should be chosen carefully to achieve maximum effect because incorrect or over usage can make them less potent.

Why not pair your power words with visually compelling images to increase the effectiveness of your eLearning course. Read the article Images In eLearning: 6 Best Practices To Choose Images For Your eLearning Course to discover six best practices for choosing the perfect images for your eLearning experience.


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