As your boss requested, you have worked hard to prepare the training presentation and now you have some good material to pass on. You were diligent with your research, read a couple of books, blogs and maybe even interviewed a few experts on the topic. You have put it all together, booked the conference room for two hours and invited tens of colleagues from across the company.
Now tell me one thing – what makes it necessary that all those people actually come and sit there? Can’t you just summarize what you found in a memo & a set of links and send it out to all? Is this really better than that e-learning anyone can click through at their own pace (meaning click-click-click through all the screens and complete the final test via trial-and-error)?
In the corporate world the answer is often: “But we want to make sure that people will actually dedicate their time to it!”
You know what? That’s not a reason good enough.
The only stories I would read
When I was a kid, my grandma desperately wanted me to read books. Fairy tales, detective stories, adventures, anything. But I simply was not interested. She wanted to motivate me, so she promised me a “gift” when I finish a book about a village boy from the 19th century she gave me. I found it boring as fudge, but I considered it a fair deal. When I finished the book, I was exhausted and eager to receive the reward. When the “gift” turned out to be yet another book – I was furious.
It was not that I didn’t like stories. But, you know, I really didn’t care about the people in the books. They were all made up, so what could I gain from reading about them anyway?
There was, however one kind of stories I loved reading. Those were stories written by our mom. While the stories in books were about strangers, our mom’s stories were about Lukas and Eva (my sister), two kids that just got a puppy. That puppy, we would soon find out, had magical powers and could talk. Logically, we got into all kinds of adventures with it – protecting our friend from a bully, averting a bank robbery and saving the world from economic crisis (OK, I made this one up).
Nobody had to promise me gifts to read those. I was one of the heroes, so I was always hungry for more.
Does that surprise you?
If I told you I have a story about YOU and YOUR new puppy – I bet you’d be interested! Maybe you would even tell your friends.
But when this is so obvious, isn’t it interesting that we so rarely take that into account when we’re preparing our presentations? We would talk for hours about abstract concepts, technical details or our own achievements. And then after a while we would get surprised looking around the room and seeing sleepy faces.
Be like my mum
Your real advantage, when doing a training as a live presentation is that you can completely tailor it to the people sitting in the room. If you don’t know much about them – spend some time finding out.
And when you start speaking – be like my mum. Make your audience the hero. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a story about a talking dog.