Celisa Steele

#465: The 3 Keys to Engaging Your Audience With Your Learning Content

#465: The 3 Keys to Engaging Your Audience With Your Learning Content

When you reflect on some of your favorite teachers, I bet you remember how they taught you through the stories they told.

Leroy Ashby comes to my mind. He was a remarkable history teacher at Washington State University who had students lining up to take his class because he was an incredible storyteller.

But corporate training and executive development often miss the mark because it’s dry, logic-driven drivel.

You’d rather take a meeting with your most difficult client than sit through another mundane course.

If you’re in learning development or just want to teach something important to someone, then you’re in luck because we have a brilliant training professional for you.

Celisa Steele is the co-founder and managing director of Tagoras.

Tagoras partners with professional and trade associations, continuing education units, training firms, and other learning businesses to help them to understand market realities and potential, to connect better with existing customers and find new ones, and to make smart investment decisions around product development and portfolio management.

She also co-founded Leading Learning, an offshoot of Tagoras, which provides resources to learning businesses, including the weekly Leading Learning Podcast, free Webinars, and the Learning Business Summit, an annual online conference.

Celisa hosted me on their Leading Learning podcast on how to use the ABT to make your online and in-person courses irresistible to your students. It’s episode 396, if you’re interested.


  1. Focus on the learner’s perspective and the value the content brings to their lives.
  2. Avoid overwhelming learners with too much information (curse of the expert).
  3. Create a safe and inclusive learning environment.
  4. Structure learning experiences with clear objectives and essential content.
  5. Engage learners through activities and options for participation.
  6. Pay attention to the timing of engagement and provide breaks for learners.
  7. Use language that is inclusive and considerate of diverse learners. Create a safe learning environment by avoiding talking down to the audience and providing constructive feedback.
  8. Make the learning experience meaningful by ensuring relevance and applicability to participants’ daily lives.
  9. Utilize storytelling and humor to engage learners emotionally.
  10. Steps for creating a course include market assessment, defining clear objectives, pruning content, and promoting the course.



  • 00:00 Introduction and Background
  • 03:43 Overview of Tagores and Learning Offerings
  • 04:11 Creating Engaging Learning Experiences
  • 08:05 Avoiding the Curse of the Expert
  • 13:17 Structuring Learning Experiences for Success
  • 16:32 Timing and Engagement in Different Delivery Systems
  • 22:21 Creating a Safe Learning Environment
  • 24:07 Meaning and Relevance in Learning
  • 30:45 The Power of Storytelling and Humor
  • 43:11 Steps for Creating a Course

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