The 3 C's of Effective Training Materials


Effective training materials are
always driven by the 3 C's.
Clear, Concise, Complete.

Obvious as they seem, the 3 C's are not easy to achieve. 

Being clear requires:

  • starting from a reasonable set of assumptions about your audience
  • knowing what you are talking about
  • being able to write

Being concise requires:

  • having a point and being able to get to it quickly
  • understanding the key points of your message
  • leaving out the extra stuff

Being complete requires:

  • mastery of the subject matter
  •  expressing all of the necessary information
  • putting the information in context within the overall documentation

I work with subject matter experts, instructional designers, trainers - let's sum it up by saying Learning and Development professionals - from all over the globe and from every type of business and organization. And yet, not a day goes by that I don't see "Explain XYZ" with no further detail, or "Ask: What about XYZ?" with no guidance on what to listen for and how to handle it if you don't hear what you are listening for.

Which brings me back to the 3 C's. I suggest that they are worth aspiring to.

Here are a few tips for being
better at the 3 C's.

Ask yourself, am I being clear?

  • read what you have written from your set of assumptions about your audience
  • make sure you can you logically follow the train of thought
  • if what you are reading might not make sense, then it is not clear

Ask yourself, am I being concise?

  • start with your main point
  • your key points (about your main point) should be clear
  • do another edit and remove more extra stuff (create an appendix and put the extra stuff in there if it's "good to know")

Ask yourself, am I being complete?

  • have (another) subject matter expert review your content
  • read your document from start to finish and edit as needed
  • work with your information from your set of assumptions about your audience to help identify what's missing or out of order

For those of you who know me, you know I'll never be accused of being a 3 C's role model. But, it's something I aspire to. And after reading this I hope I've inspired you to aspire too.