Getting your learner’s attention and holding your learner’s attention is as important with online education as it is with in-person education.  When learning is mandated, it can be even more of a challenge to get your learner’s attention.  To be an effective presenter, it is necessary to challenge the learner to become personally motivated to pay attention.  You and your presenter should work together to design courses to get and maintain learner attention.

Focus is required to learn and paying attention to a lecture requires voluntary attention.  A learner chooses to learn; it is a deliberate and purposeful choice.   Dr. Joe Pulichino in his presentation, “Get the learner’s attention” from “Brain-Based Elearning Design” suggests asking topic-related questions at the beginning of a presentation to create learner motivation.

  • Why do you want to learn about this subject?
  • What do you already know about this subject?
  • What do you expect to learn that’s new for you?
  • How will you learn what’s new?
  • How will you apply what you intend to learn in future situations?

A few other approaches to consider when designing courses and training your continuing education online presenters to get learner attention:

  • Be deliberate with your learning objectives. Present and deliver on the objectives.  If there is an interest in or an educational need for your learner, the objectives will grab and hold the learner’s attention.  “I don’t know this, and I’m going to learn this.”
  • Present a case study at the beginning of the presentation. Depending on your online delivery, allow an online discussion of the issues raised in the case study, or allow the individual learner to review and identify the issues on his/her own.  A true-life example is always a compelling attention grabber because the learner may come up short in working the case study.
  • Polling or a pretest. For most professionals, it scares the bejesus out of them when they learn they don’t know something or aren’t up to date in an area.  Framing the need for the learner to fill in their own knowledge gaps will catch and hold a professional’s attention.
  • Facts and figures. Information that defines the problem the professional needs to solve will grab and hold the learner.  For example, “Did you know that one-half of women murdered in 2012, were killed by an intimate partner or family member?”
  • News stories, movies, or other video presentations are solid ways to capture a learner’s attention. Remember, the video must be more than fun; it must directly relate to the learning objectives of the course.

Just because a learner is required to take a course does not mean you have his/her attention.  Make a difference to improve your courses, so you make it easy for your learner to commit to learn and commit to learn from the beginning.