Address emotional needs and questions upfront

Imagine that you went on a 20 day tour to China!  You've seen some amazing pictures of this beautiful country and you have high expectations on what you will see and experience.  You have read lots of blogs about what other people have experienced when they visited this country, what cities they visited, what food they had, have seen some wonderful pictures about this amazing country.  You are excited and you have high hopes for this 20 day tour!

Scenario 1: Dry Guide

Imagine you met a guide who is to guide you through this 20 day tour to China.  The guide is dry, doesn't seem to really understand how you're feeling, and basically the tour goes like this.

Day 1:  Guide tells you "Okay. So today, we're going to visit Shanghai.  Here, go ahead and do task A, B, and C.".  Next day, the guide tells you, "Okay, Today, we're going to visit a city named _____.  This city is known for _____.  Today, you should do A, B, and C."  and it repeats for all 20 days.  During those 20 days, you don't really feel like you've gotten to know the guide.  Yes, you agree that the guide was smart (at least in terms of knowing the country), but starting from Day 1, you never really knew what to expect and certainly, you never built that human connection with this guide.  This trip would be a C level trip.

Scenario 2: Amazing Guide

Contrast the first experience with another guide who not only focuses on what activities you will be doing but more than that, the guide also address your emotional needs and questions you would be having.  For example, the guide knows that on your first day, you're feeling nervous, excited, etc., and proactively addresses those emotional needs.  For example, the guide may say the following:

"Welcome to China!  I am sure you are feeling very excited but also nervous at the same time.  I too, when I first visited this country, felt those and understand how you feel.  Let me first tell you what you can expect during this 20 day tour and what cities we will be visiting and why I have picked those cities.  Yes, there are many wonderful cities that you may have heard about but let me tell you why I have designed this tour the way it is and perhaps it will give a better understanding on what experiences you will be having and why the tour was designed this way.  

[After a short explanation about why the tour is designed this way and addressing emotional needs of the tourists]

Now, for today, we're going to spend 1 day in Shanghai.  There are so many activities you can do.  What I would recommend for most tourist is to do A, B, and C.  These are the whys:  __________.  For those who are looking for _____, here are other things you can look into also: _______.  For those who have kids, here are some activities you should look into: ______.  And also remember that my team is always here for you.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  I am available to answer questions and would like to listen and learn from you and your feedbacks."

Applying this into the courses

Too often, courses are too dry.  It has no face to the course.  It goes straight into how to do things instead of what will be covered in the course, why these concepts are important, what concepts will be taught first and why, what concepts will be introduced later and why, and sometimes what concepts will intentionally not be taught and the why.

In these poor courses, the instructor didn't really think about how the students must feel and what questions they would have at that point of their journey.  These all lead to poor experience and with these type of courses, students will probably learn as much as learning from a robot.

Don't create these poor courses.  Take the time to explain the WHYs and not just the HOWs.  Build an overview video where you provide that narration/guide to the users where you can introduce concepts by short videos, and where you can proactively address certain questions students must be having at that point of their journey.  When difficult assignments are introduced, you can add a text message or a video message where you emphasize with students where you tell them up front that this is a difficult assignment and you understand.  But if that assignment is critical to their learning, put some encouraging words so that they don't give up or build resentment toward you or the course on why you didn't teach all the things needed to do the assignments easily.  Then, proactively see if you can help people level up more effectively so that they could more effectively do that assignment.  For example, are you giving them a LV 5 assignment when they are only at LV 2?  Could you teach certain concepts more simply and help them level up faster?  Could there be one or two other assignments you can add or tweak to help them reach LV 4 much faster and then give them this assignment?  You should be thinking of these.

Students are not robots.  They have real emotional needs and have a lot of questions.  Good instructors acknowledge these emotions that the students would be having at that journey and actively address those emotional needs and questions.  Bad instructors aren't thinking of feeding the heart but only feeding the brain.  

You should both address the heart and the brain.

Some good tips to remember

  1. Explain the WHYs and not just the HOWs
  2. Explain questions students would have at that point of the journey up front.
  3. If you anticipate certain strong emotions from the students at specific part of the course, address those emotions.
  4. Put a face to your course.  No one build relationship with you by reading your text.  You can build relationship by having videos where they can see you, see your facial expression, see your body language, hear your tone, and where you are showing empathy and sharing stories.  Be that guide that you can see and hear!  A course with no face of the instructor is like going on a very expensive 20 day tour, only to find out that there is no live person giving you a tour, but you are handed merely a book to read...  Don't hand them a book.  Be a real person and try to build relationship with students, even if you're not going to meet them face to face.