Tuesday, 28 August 2012

5 ways to personalise a knowledge base

There is something very personal about a conversation, which you can completely lose in Text form, for example when putting lessons into a database, or creating a knowledge base or a knowledge asset around some topic or process.

In a personal conversation, each party can watch body language, listen to tone of voice, check for understanding, ask questions for clarification. In an online conversation, on social media perhaps, although do you don't get the body language or the tone of voice, you can still check for understanding and ask questions.  You can't do that with a static text article.

So how can we retain some of the person touch when writing explicit knowledge into a static article such as a Wiki or a knowledge base ? Here are a few tips for you.

1. Structure the knowledge as an FAQ. Even if the Reader doesn't have the option to ask questions, it "feels more like it" somehow if the information is provided as a set of answers, rather than a set of instructions.

2. Make sure each piece of knowledge or each piece of advice is attributed to a specific person.  Show that it comes from a real person with real experience. It is difficult to trust anonymous knowledge.

3. Include a picture of the person.  Psychologically this really helps.  The text then becomes "this person speaking to me" rather than some anonymous block of letters and spaces. Where multiple people have contributed to a piece of text, then include each contributor's picture against their own contribution.

4. Include a little video clip of the person summarising the most important pieces of knowledge.  A moving image allows a much greater personal connection than a static image, and although you may not want to replace the entire text by video, for purposes of disk space and ease of search and reuse, that little  glimpse of the other person can be very engaging.

5. Provide a link to the contributors personal pages, so that the reader can follow up for more detail, or gain more background about the contributor.

The more you can personalise the text - the more you can simulate a conversation between the writer and the reader - the more engaged the reader will be, and the more effectively the knowledge will be transferred.

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