How to Create an Effective Conversation eLearning Scenario

Whether it’s asking Susan from Finance how her weekend was in the lunchroom or discussing your new favourite show on Netflix with a friend, conversation is something that the vast majority of mankind partake in every day. Conversations are not only good for our wellbeing (Wacker, 2017) they are also an essential skill for leadership and business (Schwartz, 2017). Whether it’s holding performance conversations or knowing how to open a conversation on wellness, conversation is crucial for our work and personal lives.

We have been having conversations since we were young and for many, the art of conversation is second nature. What we are focusing on in this blog is training people on how to improve their skill level for certain conversations that follow a structure and may not be quite so simple. What if you are not just asking Susan about her weekend but you are needing to open a conversation with her about her diminished work performance? Not quite as simple right?

Our team of Instructional Designers at Belvista Studios recently designed an online learning experience for holding wellness conversations and the process that we followed led to a great result (feedback from our stakeholders, not just our biased opinion lol). Our team designs and creates conversation scenarios often for our client’s eLearning solutions, though there was something about this project that made it stand out from the rest. This is what led us to write this blog. Not just to reflect on our own process and learnings but to share with you as Instructional Designers, L&D gurus and HR managers how you can achieve a similar result.

In this blog we will share the process we took to design a practice wellness conversation for the online environment. So get your trusty notepad out and be ready to take notes because this process really does work. Here it is.

1. Determine the Intent

When you receive a challenge to design a conversation scenario it can be tempting to jump into the specifics of the names of the characters, where they will be situated and what they will specifically say. This is when you need to stop yourself and take a few steps back. Before any of these specifics are considered, you must become crystal clear on the intent of designing the conversation scenario in the first place.

Using our project as an example, we determined that the intent of the conversation scenario was to:

“Empower leaders to hold effective wellness conversations with their team members.”


2. Break the Intent into Bite-Sized Actions

Once you are clear on the intent for the conversation scenario, it’s time to break down the overarching conversational skills into smaller bite sized actions.

A great way to do this is to consider what small actions the learner can take in the real world that would lead to their success in the conversation. You can do this by speaking to subject matter experts or by reviewing models and structures that are already embedded in the organisation.

Using our project as an example, we identified the essential actions by reviewing models and structures for conversations already embedded in the organisation. A key point here is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel if there are already models and structures in place. This will not only save you time but also enable you to create a solution that is customised and aligned to the organisation you are designing for.

We also observed these conversations in action by asking those that did it well to model it so we could really pinpoint what was said, non-verbal cues and what other things were happening throughout.

Through reviewing the models and structures provided by the organisation we were designing for, as well as through our observations, we were able to identify the ‘need to know’ information that we believed would equip leaders with the skills required to hold effective wellness conversations with their team members.


Example of using a model to identify bite-sized actions

3. Write Sample Scripts for Bite-Sized Actions

Once you have a list of your bite-sized actions, you can begin to draft how these may play out in a conversation script.

Look at each bite-sized action and brainstorm how demonstrating this action would look like in the real world and in the context of the organisation you are designing for.


Example of a bite-sized action being transformed into a conversation script format.

4. Transform Bite-Sized Actions and Sample Scripts into a Conversation

Once you have a sample script or idea for how to transform each bite-sized action into a conversation format you can begin to construct your conversation.

Analyse the actions and the sample scripts and write a rough order of how they would appear in a realistic conversation relevant to your topic.

5. Share Knowledge through Feedback

When the learner makes a decision in the conversation, provide them with feedback relevant to the action that you are educating them on. This could involve sharing the model that is being used or helping them understand why this action supports them in holding an effective conversation. 



Example of sharing knowledge through feedback. 

6. Show the Learner what would happen in the Real World

It is also effective to show the learner how the team member would potentially act in the real world to help them understand the impact of their actions. This can be done through showing how the team member responds (verbally and what they might be thinking) as well as adjusting their body language.

For example, if the learner decides to take an action that is not effective, the team member they are speaking to may provide a short one-word response and demonstrate body language that shows that they are not engaged. On the other hand if the learner takes an action that is effective, the team member may provide them with a detailed explanation and demonstrate open and engaged body language.


So, that was our process for designing this particular conversation scenario. Through following these steps we ended up with a scenario that hit the learning objectives, showed the learner what to ‘do’ in a real world context and aligned to the context of the organisation that we were designing for. We had great success with this project (our client has told us so) and we felt that we just had to get it out there and share it with others in the industry (you!). We hope that you gained value from it and are able to apply it to your upcoming projects.

If you would like to discuss how you can design effective conversation scenarios for your learning solutions please don’t hesitate to contact our passionate founder, Kim Tuohy, via kim@belvistastudios.com or through LinkedIn. 

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If you like topics like these and want to develop yourself more, check out our creator hub here. Our creator hub offers a range of templates and services that aim to support you in developing, improving and growing to meet your future needs in the instructional design and eLearning industry.
Grab the freebies such as the exact storyboard template we use, as well as case studies on how to create an induction and branching scenarios. There are paid templates to support you with writing a contract, quoting, managing a project and writing proposals. 💙💜

                                                        References

Schwartz, K. (2017). 5 Important Communication Skills for Leaders. Retrieved https://trainingindustry.com/blog/leadership/5-important-communication-skills-for-leaders/

Wacker, J. (2017). 3 Reasons Why Conversation Is Important. Retrieved from https://www.robertsoncooper.com/blog/3-reasons-why-conversation-is-important/


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