WIIFM: Improve Your Training by Answering This Question

by Sue Maden on March 29, 2013

what's in it for meYou’ve been tasked with putting together a brown-bag training session for your company. You know what you want to say. After all, your topic is interesting and important … to you. But what do you do to help your audience or learners see the value for them? Answer the question: “What’s in it for me?”

A good trainer or presenter knows that for a class to be effective, people have to want to be there. And they’ll only want to be there if they understand what’s in it for them. We call this the “WIIFM.” Although it’s a tactic often used in selling, WIIFM is also a basic instructional design concept. Ask yourself this question, from the learner’s perspective, as you build a course to stay focused on the goal.

Sounds simple, right? It is; it just requires some thought and intentionality. Rather than starting your class with a rundown of your credentials then diving into the topic, state specifically what the benefit is to the individuals in the class. The WIIFM is different than the course description. Check out these examples:

Course: Professional Communication
Description: Best practices and tips for enhancing workplace communications via email, phone and in writing.
WIIFM: Mastering professional communication skills gives you the tools to get your ideas heard, which helps you effectively perform your job and contribute to organizational success.

Course: Business Etiquette
Description: Proper behavior in the office; proper behavior in social settings; protocol in email, office environment, phone calls, dining out.
WIIFM: You’ll be equipped to professionally handle social and collaborative situations at work, which leads to greater likelihood of career success.

Course: Effective Safety & Health Project Execution
Description: Overview of Safety & Health Management focusing on five key areas: zero incident cultures, setting your project up for success, why safety and health is important, incidents and getting contractors back on track.
WIIFM: Lack of attention to safety and health during project planning and execution can lead to costly mistakes, project delays and, in the worst case, personal injuries. Attending this course will help you minimize risks and increase your opportunity for success on a project.

Get the idea? It’s not another way to state what’s covered in the course. Instead, WIIFM is a statement about the benefit to the attendee. After all, the bottom line in training is that it’s not about you, the instructor; instead, it’s about your audience or the learners. If they don’t get why they’re there, they’re unlikely to find value in what you have to say.

Before your next class, give it a try. Ask a co-worker to read the WIIFM and give you feedback. And once you’ve established your WIIFM, don’t forget to incorporate it into your training. Start the discussion by showing attendees what they’ll get out of the session, then deliver on your initial promise so that they have the information, tools and tips they need to succeed. Not only will you help them become better at what they do — they’ll also likely return to you for additional training and help, which boosts your credibility as a trainer. That’s what I call a win-win!

Image: milos milosevic via Compfight cc

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