Creating courses that target specific results and engage the learner is the key to designing effective training. Conventional tactics, like ‘click next to continue,’ were never effective to begin with but somehow managed to sneak in as “learner engagement.”


Many employees are obligated to participate in eLearning courses by their employers. Although some learners are more proactive and perform better, most want to get these courses over with! Unfortunately, once they complete the program, there’s little to no change in their behavior.


So how can you, as the instructional designer, make sure that you’re designing effective training? First, let’s dive into targeting specific results, then engage the learner in training to create the most effective courses that blow away your clients!


Designing Effective Training that Wakes the Learner Up!


If you do a quick Google search for something like “Best Learning Engagement Tools” or “How to Engage Learners,” you would get an endless list of ads, articles, and pages on the subject. It has been one of the most pervasive and sought-after answers in this field. And it can be tough to crack.  


Throughout my years as an instructional designer, I’ve had every different type of audience you can imagine. So I’ve got plenty of tricks up my sleeve for making sure the courses I deliver are engaging and effective. But, before I dive into those tips, there are a few essential things to keep in mind when thinking about your learner.


To design a course that meets objectives and motivates the learner, you need to take a few important steps.


Designing Effective Training that Wakes the Learner Up! - objectives


So, before you begin a course, make sure the analysis phase of your project thoroughly considers the following:


  1.     What do the stakeholders want to achieve?


  1.     How does the stakeholders’ goal translate into a change in the behavior of the training audience?


  1.     What are the specific learning objectives (make sure they align with the first two considerations!)?


If you haven’t addressed all of the above, you’re not ready to start your design phase yet! I recommend checking out this free resource that will help guide you through the planning stages of your course. That way, you don’t skip an important step that impacts the effectiveness of the course you deliver!


Alright, now let’s get into it! Here are my best tips for designing effective training.


Get To Know Your Target Audience


Designing Effective Training that Wakes the Learner Up! - target audience 


If you want to influence employee behavior, first, you should understand their needs and motivations. Thus, a deep understanding of andragogy (adult learning) is important base knowledge. But the best way to understand a specific audience is by having a conversation!


I like to include at least one person who represents the target audience in my stakeholder meetings. This could be a direct supervisor or someone who will participate in the training. They know the team best and can provide valuable insight.


It’s not always possible to bring in a team of employees for a meeting. If you don’t have the opportunity to interact with the audience directly, use a survey tool to get a temperature check. At this point, the survey doesn’t need to be too in-depth, but it should ask quick questions that will give you some insight into the needs and wants of the learner. 


Some employees may have reservations before taking a course. Others might not be convinced that completing the course will offer a positive outcome or be worth their time. People who are fearful, disinterested, or overwhelmed are less likely to meet the course objectives. You can learn all this by asking future course participants to take a quick survey.


Whether you’re able to include representation from the target audience in scoping meetings or you’re collecting data, the most important step is to USE the information you get!


If your audience rep tells you the team is bored to death of PowerPoint presentations, don’t give them a glorified lecture just because that’s what the higher-ups are suggesting.


If your survey data shows eLearning hesitation, recommend the team do some course promotion ahead of time to ease the learners’ fears and get them excited about the opportunity.


When your audience recognizes that you’ve considered their input, it can hugely impact engagement! And when your audience feels valued, their engagement tends to last longer and translate to other courses.


Designing Effective Training that Wakes the Learner Up!- lif changes


Let the Learners Know How the Course Will Improve their Lives


Or, at least make their lives a little easier! It’s not enough to create courses that target specific results. You also need to help learners understand what’s being targeted and why.


Your audience should understand what they will learn and how you expect them to apply the knowledge after the training. Before starting training, clarify the problems the course intends to help them solve and how performance improvements will benefit them and their company. Then, focus on the WIIFM (what’s in it for me).


Use visuals or scenarios to show instead of telling. How does my routine change when I apply this new knowledge? The connection between learning now and improved performance later is a great motivator!


Use Engaging Design Elements


Designing Effective Training that Wakes the Learner Up! - visual design


The visual design of your training can have a significant impact on your course’s effectiveness. No one wants to sit through a boring, text-heavy elearning. So use visual design to your benefit! This article has some easy tips for upping your graphic design game.


I also highly recommend incorporating videos in your training. There are so many reasons why video learning is awesome for engagement.


Gamification is huge in elearning right now. It sounds intimidating, right? You’re an instructional designer, not a video game developer! Don’t worry. Gamification is all about taking the tricks game developers use to keep people playing and increasing motivation in learning. Here’s a great resource to give you some ideas.


Include Follow Up


Designing Effective Training that Wakes the Learner Up! - following up


The course you design will be relatively short. Real learning happens afterward when participants apply what they have learned. This is where the behavioral changes start! To understand the course content thoroughly, learners must use that knowledge in the real world.


When I was still teaching (pre-instructional design transition), I went to this amazing 2-day convention. Throughout the sessions, I collected so many tools and ideas to use in my classroom. Unfortunately, I left with so many good ideas. It ended up being overwhelming!


Even an excellent training session can fail to get results if there’s no follow-up. As a motivated learner, I put a plan into place to make sure I would benefit from the learning. Your learners might not have the same motivation, so you’ll need to put the plan in place for them!


One way to do this is by enlisting the help of managers, team leaders or even asking participants to act as mentors or coaches. These leaders can do check-ins or status reports to make sure their team is using the new learning.


You can also suggest follow-up micro-lessons that would review essential concepts and check for understanding post-course. This is something that would need to be included in the scope of the project!


An easier way to follow up if you don’t have the budget for microlearning is through planned email blasts. A tip of the week, a reflective question, anything to get the participants thinking about the training again. If your client uses an LMS to roll out training, this can be built right into the course and may require very little extra work!


Wrapping it Up


Bringing about a visible change in the behavior of your learners is tricky and challenging. However, designing effective training can ensure that learners make the most of a course that targets specific results.


Got questions about using these tips to wake your learner up and deliver training that wows your client? Maybe you have some other ideas to share? Then, join my community of beginning instructional designers at the Hangout! In the Hangout, you will have a place to get questions answered and access FREE training!

The Testimonials are In:


Shola Richards

Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.

Shola Richards


Graphic Designer

I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.

After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.

Gayle Bower


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.

Laurie Henderson


Teacher, Future Instructional Designer

I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!

Wendy McMillian


L&D Project Manager

The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!

Gabby Grimaldo


Future Instructional Designer

If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!

Shanna Howe


Future Instructional Designer

I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).

Aviva Berkowitz


Future Instructional Designer

I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.

Krista Johnson Awomoyi


Freelance Instructional Designer

I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.

Darlene Dalgleish


Instructional Designer

This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!

Shawnice Edge


Instructional Designer Training Facilitator

Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.

I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!

Brian Hightower


Freelance Instructional Designer

My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!

Sarah Smith


Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design

I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.

Lee R


Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!

Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!

Sheryl Rhoades
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer


Shawntay has been incredible!

Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.

President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.


IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!

The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.

LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker


A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!

Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.

Amanda Buckley
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University


Creative & Highly Talented!

Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer.  She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program.  It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.

Susan Gatti
President, IMMIXID


Breaks Down Mammoth Projects

“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”

Rick Miller
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach


eLearning Development

“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”

Ashley Christian
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning


Top Notch Professional

Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.

Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research


Fortunate to Find Shawntay!

“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”

Jonathan Burt
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.


Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!

“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”

Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services


Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?

“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”

Mellora Moore
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships


Quality Products & Solutions!

“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”

Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach


“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”

Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.

Patrick Hodges
Managing Partner, PHiG


“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”

Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!

Mike Stubblefield
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics


“Spot on”

I have known and worked with Shawntay  as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations.  The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention.  Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.

Owner, Certified Consulting Services


“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”

I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.

Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!


Katie Carter
Training Specialist, LegalShield

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