'Out' And 'In' Context Framing

Grabbing an audience's attention early on in a training session is key to its success. So many things compete for a learners attention during any session that if you haven't been clear, loud and excited about why they should be listening to you, you're screwed within the first 5 minutes of a session.


This has led to a dependence on 'microlearning' - VERY short sessions designed to avoid learners short attention spans by making the training so short they complete it before getting bored.


It works, but what do you do if you've got a single time slot to train out something that takes more than 5-10 minutes to cover?


Well think about it this way....you've stat through a full film before, right?


A film lasts 90-120 minutes, way longer than i'd recommend you run a session for, so how do you sit through that?


Your attention is grabbed quickly within a film because directors know if they don't do this, your bored. You have to do this in your training.


The method we're going to look at is 'framing' your training


- First you'll give an 'Out' of context example/story/case study for your training

- Then, you'll give an 'In' context example to help learners see the link between the first example and their role

- Then, you'll link the two to the training activty/ learning purpose of the session.


Don't believe this works?



Mission Impossible 2 starts with a scene where Tom Cruise climbs up a mountain. This has nothing to do with the plot at all.


So, tells us NOTHING about the films content at first glance. Why is it there?


It does a couple of important things:


- Its exciting and grabs our attention immediately.

- It introduces Tom Cruise as the main character (the subject) and what to expect (exciting action)


The film then starts, even if the next part was slower, you're engaged and pay attention.


Whilst the rock climbing is OUT of context, without it we're less engaged in the plot so when things happen IN context, were more engaged.


OK, how do I do this in a work environment?


You cant recreate a blockbuster in training, but you don't need to.


If you want to get someone to learn something that they will apply in work, you should first look at what you're actually asking them to 'do'.


Lets use Data Security as an example.


If we're running a training session on Data Security, we want learners to 'do' things after the session. This could be locking their screens when they leave their desk, not allowing tailgating into the building, or shredding documents.


That's the 'do'.


So, out OUT of context example could be a case study about a company that has their data stolen because they failed to follow basic data security procedures.


The IN context example could be what WOULD happen if WE didn't follow this guidance, and to be even more impactful, what the terrible scary consequences of this could be (fines, data loss, loss of jobs etc)


Now that you've grabbed the attention of your learners you can lay out what you're going to cover, with learners able to link the learning to the context and the outcome, they're more receptive.


It doesn't have to be a scary consequence! If you can think of positive benefits to a learner, they're more receptive:


If I want a salesperson to 'do' something, ill think of how this benefited someone else (my OUT of context) and then how they can apply this (my IN context) and then give an actual value in £ of the impact to them.

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