Who Says Compliance Training Has to Be Boring?

boring-compliance-spiderman“Compliance training is fun,” said no one ever.

Compliance content often covers rules and regulations and helps to keep your employees and company out of trouble. But it doesn’t have to be coma inducing. You may be thinking, yeah, right. Or that to make compliance training entertaining, it will cost an arm and a leg.

But it doesn’t have to.

Some ideas: fresh language, humor, storytelling, scenarios, music videos, personal testimonies, gamification. Whether your compliance training budget is small or large, there are plenty of ways to make your training sparkle and stick.

Lawyers – no sudden moves. Put your pens down and step away from the table

Although lawyers will likely need be involved in outlining the rules and regs your courses are based on, do not let them write the training. No offense to legal eagles, but let’s face it: lawyers have a high tolerance for using the legal jargon that turns the rest of us into zoned-out zombies. Allow creative instructional designers to take the legalese and spin it into language that engages, courses that sizzle.

You can do better, too – use fresh language (and stop using “!”)

Imagine your company has to teach the dos and don’ts of forklift safety. How might you hook learners into paying attention at the outset? You might use language that surprises: Apple turnovers are a good thing, unless you’re an apple. Forklift turnovers are a bad thing. In two sentences, you’ve conveyed to your learners that this isn’t your typical drink-a-triple-espresso-and-struggle-to-stay-awake course. You’ve grabbed their attention, and if you keep the language fresh, you’ll hold attention all the way through. Oh, and putting an exclamation mark at the end of every other sentence isn’t fun, informal, or humorous. It’s just lazy and lame.

Pair humor with learning – but stop trying so hard

Have you ever listened to an experienced colleague tell a story about one of their most memorable days at work? I bet it made you smile. I bet the absurdity, the ridiculousness, the “what are the odds-ness” of the story made it one you’ll remember long after you’ve forgotten your employee engagement scores for 2018.

Compliance training isn’t a laughing matter; it’s a serious business to steer companies clear of lawsuits. But sharing that you recognize the absurdity of life can be engaging. And when people are laughing, they’re retaining.

Careful, though. If I had a dollar for every client who thought “funny” equaled a dumb employee who got everything wrong, a superhero who saved the day, or a quirky, Pixar-like animated character, I’d be a wealthy man. Oh, and did I mention that putting an exclamation mark at the end of every other sentence doesn’t make something funny?

Tell Stories

Hemingway once wrote a six-word novel that goes like this: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Good, huh?

When we hear stories, we make connections, form our own ideas, and the information sticks. There are many neurological reasons for this, but we’ll save them for another article.
If your budget is limited, an inexpensive way to create memorable compliance training is to tell memorable stories. Create strong characters that learners relate to. Use real-world stories and modify the details if you have to. Ask learners to make decisions, to troubleshoot, and to remove the characters from harm’s way. Be authentic.

Problem-Solving Scenarios

Scenarios provide a realistic context for learners to practice skills in a simulated environment. Create challenging situations that learners can relate to in what-would-you-do scenarios. Raise the stakes. Get adrenaline pumping and minds whirring. Let your employees save the day.

Craft Short eLearning Bursts

Death by eLearning is arguably a fate worse than death by PowerPoint. When you’re designing eLearning, less is more. Create short eLearning bursts that pack a punch. Deliver your teaching points quickly and powerfully.


At this point in its development, gamification is often misused and misunderstood. I’m going to jump in anyway. Add gaming features to your training. Give learners a mission and tasks to perform. As they meet each challenge, let them earn rewards and advance to the next level until their mission is accomplished. Compliance training as a game gives learners something to look forward to, and talk about, instead of something to dread.

End Strong

As you sit down to design your compliance courses, the ideas above will get you off to a great start. Employing some, or even all, of these strategies will help you to produce memorable learning experiences. You might also want to consider ending your course with a “Go do” – ask your learners to perform a specific task that will help them transfer their learning into the real world.

And remember, too many exclamation marks don’t make training memorable – or funny.

For more information contact DBrown@interactiveservices.com

By Dan Brown (Chief Strategic Relationship Officer, Interactive Services)