L&D Tools

The Simple Science of Content Engagement

Our brain is the most advanced piece of software that we will ever possess and probably never fully understand. I mean, think about it?

We probably have more of an understanding of how our phone works than the organic technological powerhouse in our heads.

The process of understanding our own operating software is a continual journey.

What helps us delve deeper into the mysteries of the mind is the work showcased in the world of neuroscience.

A while back, I attended a conference where a number of the key topics were focused on neuroscience, neurology and how we engage with content (I’m a super nerd, remember!). 

Now, this might not sound like a sexy topic, but it’s actually pretty fundamental in understanding how we are wired and the way in which we connect with each other and the world around us.

As part of an industry in workplace learning where we have so much more of a push strategy in getting others to take action rather than the desired pull effect.

I’m always curious to learn what drives our decision-making process in what we choose to engage with.

We all spend most of our days bombarded by notifications, so knowing what can be done to truly stand out is not only of importance in the arena of workplace learning but also as a content creator.

Neuroscience Facts

Let me share some insights with you from what I learnt and look at how we can apply this to engaging an audience with our own content.

The brain is wired for survival, not knowledge 

You might not think it but the brain gives no shits about our first world problems of no one liking that photo on Instagram. All it cares about is pro-creating and staying away from sabre tooth tigers.

We remember things when we feel them 

Remember that time when your partner told you, it’s not me, it’s you and you felt that inner black hole of hurt inside you? 

Yeah, bad news on that one, you’re going to remember that one for a while as your feelings got all up on that and imprinted on you.

And this is owed to our pursuit of actively seeking these core emotions:

Joy – Fear – Sadness – Anger – Disgust

Try and think of a time you’ve not searched for something where one of these emotions hasn’t been a key driver – it’s tough, right?

It’s like when I go running off to find a jar of cashew butter. I’m driven by the joy of that caramel tasting goodness in my mouth.

The Golden Code

So, the biggest insight and most likely the most valuable one that you can take away from today’s thoughts is this. 

We are mostly driven by these 2 questions in any activity ⬇️

  1. How will this make me look?
  2. What are other people doing?

Think about your daily routines and see if these don’t come up in some form even once. I know that these swirl around in my head regularly and form the basis of if I will complete an action or engage with content.

So, how does this all relate to engaging an audience you may ask? 

It’s simple, the insights above contain a number of key tools which any of us can use in getting an audience to engage with our message, content, conversation or whatever it is.

The mind is super powerful and we just need to understand a little more about how it works and the toolkit we can use to grab its attention.

An easy way to sum this up would be if you want to connect with an audience, tell them real stories about real people and they just might want to listen.

We see this tactic play out all the time in all forms of content we consume. From the provocative YouTube thumbnail and strapline to the journalist’s juicy headlines that make us look twice. We can find examples of this everywhere.

We are consumers of such tactics but rarely do I hear anyone talking about this openly in the world of content creation and curation. 

For those of us in the world of workplace learning, where part of the job really is to be a marketer of stuff, insights like this can make our task of connecting people with content that little bit easier.

The terms L&D is feared in so many workplaces that a lot of people actually miss out on lots of great stuff to amplify not only their career but themselves as better functioning humans.

So, let’s make people feel stuff. Explore those emotions laid out above and don’t forget our inner caveman – our mind just wants us to survive.

Will your content and message help with that?

Next time you send out that communication, launch that campaign or have that challenging conversation – reflect on what you’ve learnt here.

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.

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