In dating, we all have our list of relationship deal breakers. For example, perhaps an unemployed smoker who hates dogs and never wants kids wouldn’t make the cut for you. Like it or not, everyone’s got their non-negotiables when it comes to choosing a partner. And, choosing education is not all that different. Members can be very particular when it comes to the content they prefer, so by avoiding common programming pitfalls, your learners will fall in love with your courses and keep coming back for more.

In our 2018 Member Education and Career Development Report, we asked those who rated a program “Fair” or “Poor” to indicate why the program didn’t make the grade. Here’s what they told us:

Content Deal Breakers

As we can see in the figure, missing the mark on content makes up the top three reasons for dissatisfaction. Let’s look at some tips for addressing these issues.

Content was not engaging: We all know there are certain topics that are inherently dry, so finding ways to keep your learners engaged, especially when they’re watching the program virtually, can be difficult. The key is to incorporate interactive elements to maintain the learner’s attention. Weave in polling questions throughout the program. Offer a chat option for attendees to engage with one another and comment on what they’re learning. Ensure the in-person speaker has access to the virtual Q&A, so the online audience can get feedback in real time.

Content was not specific enough: Within certain verticals, for example continuing education for legal professionals, it can be very difficult to produce content that meets the needs of every member. This fact doesn’t change learner expectations however, as in today’s world people expect personalized content curated just for them. The first step to eliminating this criticism is to better understand what specifics are missing from your program. It’s crucial to survey your audience and mine the data for content gaps, so you can meet the needs of more member segments. In the end, it may not make sense to deliver a day-long program on a niche topic, but you can ask your subject matter expert to incorporate a small section on a particular topic, which you could then offer as a nano-course.

Program didn’t cover what was expected: This reason is all about expectation setting. When advertising your events, you want to be as specific as possible, so the audience is sure the content is a good fit. Don’t stop at including just a description, incorporate objectives or takeaways, so it is very clear what information the learner will walk away with. Members are after relevant, practical, applicable content that they can put into practice right away. If possible, also include experience level, such as beginner, intermediate, or advanced, so learners know whether the content is appropriate for them.

Don’t let learners break it off with your content because of these missteps. By delivering the courses your members love you can keep them in a committed relationship with your organization.