Table of Contents

L&D Lessons from an Out of Office Reply


Over the summer, I heard this 4 minute clip on NPR and every time I need to change my out of office reply, I think back to this story about Dallas Morning News book editor Michael Merschel, and how he sometimes has people email him (even when they know he’s out of the office) just to be able to read his out of office reply.

What if people wanted to access our learning and development resources as badly as people wanted to email this guy?

Here are four lessons from this story that I think are transferable to the plight of the L&D professional:

  1. Keep it simple… and unique. There’s nothing flashy about these out of office replies. There’s no major coding or programming necessary. Michael Merschel simply took an existing platform (Outlook’s out of office reply feature) and did something unexpected with it. In addition to the basic information he needed to include, he added his own personal touch, in his own personal style. Do we need new platforms? Or can we deliver what needs to be delivered through Word, Excel, Twitter or something else to which we (and all of our learners) already have access?
  2. Tap into a shared experience. What he wrote was short, sweet and something that everyone could relate to. If you’ve never actually taken a road trip with unhappy children in the back seat, chances are you’ve at least been held captive as your parents lugged you from point A to point B in the family car. People like something new (like an out of office reply that’s actually interesting) when they can somehow connect to it through their own prior, personal (or professional) experiences.
  3. Make it easy to access. Colleagues and strangers alike could get access to his out of office reply. There were no passwords to remember, no new systems to get familiar with… all they needed was access to email. While there is a good reason at times for higher levels of security, the more learning professionals can reduce barriers to access of their content, the more likely people will be to try to get their hands on it.
  4. Have fun with it. Whether we’re talking about something as routine as an out of office reply or compliance training, settling for standard, run-of-the-mill, business-as-usual doesn’t get people excited. My favorite part of this NPR story came toward the end, when Michael Merschel says: “…when you’re writing something, there’s this magical thing that happens where your words are going into someone else’s brain. And so whenever we’re putting words on paper in any form, you need to be thinking about who’s going to be reading that and how are they going to take it? It does matter. And also, I kind of think life’s too short not to have some fun with it.”

What do you think? Are there some other transferable lessons for people who present or train others?





Articles Similar to L&D Lessons from an Out of Office Reply

How to create a training plan in under 10 minutes

Using a lesson plan template (which is the most downloaded resource from this blog) can help give you structure. Using Soapbox can save you all sorts of time (and still give your presentation some structure)!

Does training actually change behavior?

Does training actually change behavior? It’s a question we should be able to answer honestly. (And the answer is: No, not 100%… and yes, but seriously, not 100%)

Hybrid Learning: When to use it

Recently I had an opportunity to talk with the folks at Mimeo about hybrid learning and when to use it. In today’s post, I share a link to that podcast, which is one in a series of podcasts they did with industry leaders on hybrid learning strategies.

L&D Lessons Learned from Being a Parent (Part 5 of 5)

Once we get into a comfortable routine, how easy is it to want to try something new? Erin Clarke shares a few ah-ha’s about what she discovered and how she became better when she decided to leave her comfort zone and try something new.

Subscribe to Get Updates from Endurance Learning

Brian Washburn, Author

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll send you the latest updates from our blog. Thanks for following!

Grow your L&D Career Today!

The Foundations of L&D course through the L&D Pro Academy provides the concepts and practical experience you need to grow your confidence and abilities as a well-rounded L&D professional.

Enter your email below and we’ll be in touch with an info sheet!

L&D Pro Academy

Find Your L&D Career Path

Explore the range of careers to understand what role might be a good fit for your L&D career.

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the What’s Possible in L&D Worksheet.

What's possible in L&D

Let's Talk Training!

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll get back to you soon.

Download the Feedback Lesson Plan

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the lesson plan as a PDF.

feedback lesson plan
MS Word Job Aid Template

Download the Microsoft Word Job Aid Template

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the Word version of this template.

Download the Free Lesson Plan Template!

Enter your email below and we’ll send you a Word document that you can start using today!

free lesson plan template
training materials checklist

Download the Training Materials Checklist

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the Training Materials Checklist.

Subscribe to Endurance Learning for updates

Get regular updates from the Endurance Learning team.