The way the world consumes content has changed. We're no longer content to "stay tuned for next week's episode" and instead insist on our right to binge-watch an entire season of Orange is the New Black in one sitting. Our expectations for the nature of content have also changed. We skip branded advertisements to spend hours consuming the authentic user generated content we actually trust. Finally, we're filtering through an unprecedented volume of content. Every week the average US consumer spends 60 hours consuming content choosing from the 1.8 billion photos or videos shared, 500 million tweets posted, and the 700 million vanishing Snapchats created every 24 hours.

Multi-billion dollar industries are seizing this trend. Consumer product manufacturers are embracing influencers by shifting enormous budgets away from high end national TV ad campaigns to "more authentic amateurs." And it's working. 99% of Revlon's total lifetime YouTube views have come from User Generated Content. Glossy is giving way to grainy. It's even true in Hollywood. This year, one of the most popular movies at Sundance was shot on a $550 iPhone.

It's time that the training industry, as significant content creators and distributors, recognized and embraced this fundamental change in how our employees and customers prefer to consume content. It's time to let go of "old school" approaches to content creation and delivery such as on-site classrooms, lifeless webinars and content created within the "ivory tower" and offer training that is digital, socially accessible, authentic, personally relevant and self-paced.

If you're a trainer ready to make the same transitions that Hollywood and Madison Avenue have, here are 3 tips for taking your training from Old School to New School:

Ditch 'Glossy' and GoPro
Still creating heavy volumes of training content at corporate headquarters? That's a solid plan for overwhelming trainees and guaranteeing mass procrastination. Worse, you're missing a big opportunity to speed course creation and improve your training's compliance, retention and street cred at the same time.

Increase relevance by crowd-sourcing bite sized content from the actual subject matter experts who excel at the job. Imagine the difference between emailing your sales team a glossy PowerPoint course, created from HR interviews conducted two quarters ago vs. texting them all a 3 minute video of your top salesperson, shot in a bar last night, explaining exactly how she just closed the company's biggest deal of the year. Which content do you think your team is going to consume today and talk about tomorrow?

When it comes to content value, relevance, timeliness and authenticity will trump production value nearly every time. Not shocking when you consider that 92% people trust recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of marketing.
When it comes to consuming content, size definitely matters. There's a reason Digiday introduced the TLDR button in April; people have an increasingly low tolerance for content that is too long or worse, irrelevant.

Skip the Schedules and Binge
Still conducting classroom training, aka, death by PowerPoint? You're missing an increasingly important opportunity to optimize for faster personal pace and convert travel expense into training budget.

Respect different learning speeds and decrease the amount of time wasted on travel by delivering training that is consumable anytime, anywhere and on any device. Imagine the difference in ramp up time and productivity gained between Option A: flying an entire training class, with varying levels of experience, to Vegas for 2 weeks of rigid classroom sessions vs. Option B: delivering an online course that allows participants to "test out" of material they already know, and quickly move on to what they still need to learn.

There's a reason 5.74 million Netflix subscribers binge watch 1 billion hours of entertainment per month – people prefer to consume content at their own pace. As long as you incorporate assessments to ensure understanding, empower trainees to learn and apply that learning as fast as they can

Pause the Webinars and Loop
Still scheduling clunky one-way webinars as your main source of online training? You're missing the ability to measure participant engagement and iterate content for improvement.

Improve engagement, accountability and course materials by delivering training that embeds assessments and encourages immediate feedback. With real time access to data that highlights what does or does not resonate, trainers can take action to improve the overall content. Imagine the excitement trainers would feel if they could see a lively conversation thread around a specific piece of course material vs. conducting a two hour webinar where everyone is on mute, probably checking emails and not asking questions.

Take a page from the popular publishing platform Medium which recently added a feature they call highlights. Readers share what lines of content they value the most, and publishers gain immediate insight into what lines of content resonate most strongly with their following. Trainers are publishers, after all, and publishers love feedback.

Much like a successful YouTube star, trainers who embrace technology and deliver the right content in the right format will increase the value of their own training efforts and create big impacts for the business:

Faster ramp up and higher productivity: When you consider the average tenure at top innovators like Google and Amazon is a little over one year, it's obvious that higher performance demands faster training.

Better employee retention and satisfaction: When we consider that the Top 100 Companies to work for offer nearly double the amount of on the job training, it's no coincidence that where you find a strong employer brand, you'll also find "new school" training.

Real business impact can only happen when employees (and customers) consume, retain and share your training content. To do that, make sure your next masterpiece is less like that glossy TV ad you just skipped, and more like that viral Casey Neistat video you can't take your eyes off of.

Published on: Aug 6, 2015