As an e-learning pro, you’re always looking for new ways to connect with learners, to grab their attention and keep them engaged so they can get the most out of your courses. 

So how do you hook your learners right from the start, so they’re motivated—and maybe even excited—about learning something new? Let’s take a look at some tried-and-true techniques.

1. A Surprising Fact

One way to grab your learners’ attention is to start off with a surprising fact. This could be something that most people don’t know or that challenges a commonly held belief. 

Here are a few example courses that use this simple but effective method.

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2. An Eye-Catching Animation

Another way to catch your learner’s eye is by using animations. This could be anything from a simple GIF to a more elaborate combination of moving objects.

Take a peek at these effective examples for inspiration.

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3. An Intriguing Video

There’s something captivating about the combination of imagery, animations, and audio in a video that captures attention.

Here are a few examples of using compelling video footage.

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4. A Realistic Scenario

Scenarios invite learners to interact and understand the practical application of the content you’re sharing. But they don’t need to be buried in the middle of the course! Use them to kick-start your course, or as the basis for your entire course. 

See for yourself how engaging this technique can be by checking out the examples below.

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5. A Thought-Provoking Question (or Two!)

Asking curious questions is a great way to start a conversation—and an e-learning course. Questions pique the learner’s interest in your course right off the bat!

You can use questions that you write on the screen, inviting learners to reflect on their own, or ask quiz questions learners must answer to move forward in the course. It’s up to you to decide what makes the most sense for your situation.

Here are some examples to get your creative wheels spinning.

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6. A Stimulating Challenge

When faced with a challenge, most people are naturally motivated to solve it. That’s why challenging your learners from the start can be a really powerful engagement strategy.

These two courses will give you ideas on how to go about it. 

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7. A Powerful Quote

Having trouble coming up with the exact words to say? Then find a relevant quote and include it in your course. Sharing the wisdom of others can be inspiring and give your content instant credibility. 

Here’s an example course that starts with a quote from the Declaration of Independence.

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8. An Unexpected or Unique Interaction

Most e-learning courses behave in a similar way . . . a Start button here, a Next button there. And while that makes it easy for learners to know how to move forward, it can also be a little boring. Why not throw in a couple of surprises? As long as navigation is still clear, there’s no harm in shaking things up!

Here are a couple examples to show you what I mean.

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9. A Humorous Image or Statement

People love to laugh, but humor can be hard to get right in a corporate setting, so many course designers shy away from it. However, if you strike the right balance and ensure your humor is appropriate, it can be a great way to catch people off guard and leave them wanting more.

Here’s a great example of that.

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10. Evoke an Emotional Response

A lot of our memories are derived from life experiences and how they made us feel. For this reason, starting with something that learners emotionally connect with can be a good way to get them to engage with your course. And if you continue on that path throughout the course, they’re more likely to retain what they learn.

Check out these courses for some tips on appealing to your learners’ emotions.

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More Resources

This list of attention-getters is far from exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start! And if you looked at the examples I shared, you probably noticed that course designers often use a combination of these ideas to maximize their effect. As you’re deciding how to capture your learners’ attention, make sure to keep your subject matter, learning objectives, and audience in mind. After all, those should always be your guiding principles as you design your course!

If you’re looking for more examples of attention-getters, be sure to check out E-Learning Challenge #279: 23 Creative Ways to Motivate and Grab Attention in E-Learning Courses

And for more instructional design tips, check out the following articles:

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