Grab Attention and Motivate (#93)

You can't ignore the big red timer.

David Anderson never generates a challenge without giving us some resources to work with. This week he linked to an interesting article at called 7 Ways to Capture Someone’s Attention. I read the article and went to bed thinking about how I might conjure up an incomplete story of some kind.

When I reread the article, the word ‘task’ jumped off the page! Incomplete tasks drive me nuts. I already had an incomplete task leftover from a prototype I made a few months ago. Well, that got me off to a good start!

Click here to see the sample.

The subject here is “The Numbers Game”, an exercise in Lean training to make people realize that if they tidy up their workspace, they will become more efficient and waste less. This sample is just one part of a much larger module.

The instructions for the task include a short video: watching the little hand drag the numbers is captivating! So the "Ready" needed to be animated to get the attention of the learner.

Click this image to see the Attention-Grabbing Sample in action.

The instructions for the task include a short video: watching the little hand drag the numbers is captivating! So the “Ready” needed to be animated to get the attention of the learner.


Here’s a synopsis of the seven ways to capture attention, with an eLearning spin:

Mystery: Incomplete stories or tasks. My hook was a task no one could complete in the allotted time.

The drag-and-drop task is impossible to finish in the time allowed.

Automaticity: A gun shot, the colour red, dramatic or loud music, or something memorably warm or interesting. My timer is an example of automaticity. You’re going to notice something that is red, bold and in the top-left of the screen. You’re also going to notice that the countdown has started!

You can't ignore the big red timer.

Disruption: Violate expectations! Surprise them! Is it a threat or a positive development? This is the most-used method in this sample. I use it with care: the disruption can’t be so distracting it puts off the learner. It must align with the training objective.
The image shows the learner's name in use (acknowledgement), "Want to" is spelled "wanna" which is unexpected and there is a button to decline, which is also unexpected.

Reward: Make the learning satisfying, reward the learner with praise or acknowledgement. Have them anticipate the reward… make them salivate.

Humour, building anticipation and the whiteboard animation are all methods to capture and keep attention.

Acknowledgement: We all have a strong need for acknowledgement. We want to know we have value. How do we create that feeling in elearning? This is a challenge indeed. We can start by collecting and using the learner’s name. Here again, I can’t overuse this device or it loses its impact.

Asking for your name may be unexpected, but it's necessary for later acknowledgements!
Framing: Frames of reference come from a variety of life experiences and biases. Where in my sample did I change a frame of reference? (I’m sure there is one; I’m still thinking about this.)
Reputation: Cite credentials. Of the seven methods, this is the only one I was unable to represent in my sample. But it’s represented here, in this post, by citing the Harvard Business Review article.
See the sample.

You can download the Storyline file here.


3 Responses to “Grab Attention and Motivate (#93)”

  1. Lesia Zasadna

    Loved the article!

    Made me think that we often try to glue the users to our content, or even force the content onto them. Like in some sort of bad relationship, you know.

    On the other hand, your tips and really awesome illustrations show how to make the users hand on to you. By being fun and unobtrusive, for a change. I’d put a ring on it 😉

    • Jane

      Thanks, Lesia! I like your analogy… bad relationships. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Have a great day!

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