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(In my last post, JPAs That Answer the How? Question, I shared some guidelines for creating job performance aids that walk a performer through a series of steps necessary to accomplish a task.)

Now let’s talk about performance aids that answer the question, What? as in “What do I need to know about our peanut butter and rutabaga sandwiches?”

Use the same header formatting as with your “How to” job aids.  Put the question in the header, but use shorthand.  For example, we’ll entitle our hypothetical job aid, “What about PB & Rutabaga Sans?”

Where products are concerned, it is traditional to speak of features and benefits.  The features are simply the facts about the product, e.g. “weighs 9 ounces.”   A benefit is what the customer gains from the feature, e.g. “easy to carry in your pocket.”

Restricting learners to the features/benefits construct causes confusion because it is often hard to separate the feature from the benefit.   It doesn’t help that the learner can sound like a complete idiot, as in this example:  “Mrs. Smith, our aprons are flame resistant, which means you won’t go up like a roman candle while you’re serving Cherries Jubilee!”

Rather than use features/benefits, I like to use “Top Selling Points” as the first section of a product aid and “More” as the second section, which is a simply a catch-all for everything not listed under Top Selling Points.  Here’s an example:

What about PB & Rutabaga Sans?

  • Top Selling Points
    • Delicious and good for you, too!
    • High in dietary fiber!
    • Only 9,876 calories!
    • 100% organic ingredients!
    • Regularity guaranteed!
    • Named “Best Sandwich” by the Rutabaga Growers of East Rutherford, New Jersey
  • More:
    • Creamy PB/no chunks
    • Choice of breads
      • Croissant
      • Pita
      • Kaiser
      • Manna
    • World-famous Hotter than Heck sauce.

Now you might ask me, “Mr. Learning Maverick, sir, could we put the How PA on the back of the What aid?”  The answer is “Sure!” For example, put a How to make a PB & Rutabaga San aid back-to-back with the What About aid.  (Or, if it’s easier, simply insert the latter after the former in that binder you’re rapidly filling up with “cool aids”–get it?)

In my next post, I’ll talk about job performance aids that are “cooler than cool,”  because they appear on a performer’s computer or mobile device screen to guide them through the steps in a task.