What to do about boring content you need to share

What do you do if you have to teach boring content? What if your audience likely understands your message, at least partially, but you are still required to deliver a refresher? Many instructional designers might approach this unfortunate but common request by covering the necessary points to get the job done with the understanding that most people will likely ignore the familiar message. 

Airlines face this problem with the required safety instruction airline passengers must receive before each flight. Designers have addressed the need to deliver instructional videos, initially, with content that was informative, albeit boring.

Delta's instructional designers changed this pattern through videos that were just as informative but that included humor. This approach, if done right, seems to catch the attention of many more passengers than the plain vanilla approach of the past. Each time I find myself on a Delta flight, I hear passengers chuckle at the flight safety video and notice plenty of passengers paying attention to the video. Additionally, Delta releases new versions of their safety videos frequently, so passengers know that they may likely see a new version when they're on a Delta flight. The combination of funny and updated content seems to be working for Delta. It is important to note that humor is very, very challenging to produce in such a way that it will appeal to a wide audience. If it doesn't come off as funny, chances are your viewers think it's cheesy. 

Funny in-flight safety videos

Here's the most recent version Delta has produced:

This flight safety video by Air New Zealand was released less than a week ago and is coming close to seeing 10 million views!

So, what are the take-aways?

If you have boring content that you are required to deliver:

  1. Make it funny
  2. Keep it current

Photo credit: Bentley Smith, Creative Commons Non-Commercial