All about performance

It’s all about performance, all about performance, never passive . . .O.K., so it’s tough to get the cadence to work. But the sentiment is spot on

Performance is key. It’critical. It’s my priority . . .and it should be yours, too.

What the big deal?
Without performance, communications—whether they be spoken, written or graphic—just lie around collecting dust. But add performance, and they incite action, move an audience to try something new, and drive results.

How can you add performance?

Multiple levels of performance can exponentially enhance the impact of your message.

Level I–Technical Communication Best Practices

The first, and most basic, level of performance is following technical communications best practices:

Use active voice.

Don’t presume your audience can’t handle the action and relegate it to some amorphous “other”. This is passive writing, the domain of bureaucrats and lawyers. Speak or write in the present, and let them be the “doer.”

Chunk it up!

A piece filled with a meandering stream of words or images is as likely to lose an audience as a thick fog is disorient a traveler. Divide the content into short, easily digestible paragraphs or sections, separated by plenty of white space. Easily understood headers act as guideposts.

Be concise.

People don’t like to listen or read. Even those claim to are more likely to be busy, distracted. They’ll digest your whole message if it is bite-sized. Opt for shorter rather than longer. Shorter words, shorter sentences. Bulleted lists are easy to read and add a pleasing border of white space.

Level II–Gamification

The second level of performance is adding game-like elements of fun and competition. This encourages repetition and multi-sensory involvement. By appealing to a variety of information-processing styles, a multimedia approach calls upon learners to link information in various parts of their brains. Performance, and particularly repeat performance, of interactive tasks further cements new information.

Performance-based Training

The highest level of performance is performance-based training. The purpose of training is demonstration of a desired behavior. If the objective of a communication is to effect a change in behavior, then the piece should be evaluated based on its ability to evoke the desired action(s). Of course, it is not always practical, or even possible, to reproduce the circumstances requiring a given response. That is where multimedia comes into play:

• Graphics
• Audio
• Video
• interactivity

Any or all can help simulate a situation. Creative training professional use these tools to mimic the key elements of the behavior desired.

Years ago, Benjamin Franklin said:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

He apparently knew it was all about performance.

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