Article On Sabotaging Training Was Right On The Mark

To The Editor:

Dennis Groners article in the August 5 issue of National Underwriter, “Take A Look At Your Training. Is It Sabotaging Learning?” is good advice on how to properly adapt your training to your audience and your subject in order to get results.

Have you ever gone to see a movie too early only to be subjected to endless trailers of upcoming movies and advertisements, so many that when the movie finally starts, you think you went into the wrong multiplex because you cant even remember what movie you came to see?

Thats the same feeling sales people get when they go to a training session that has a 30-minute long introduction: “In this difficult time of economic slowdown…and blah, blah…thats why we have to adapt and to do this we…blah, blah…therefore, I present to you the following Powerpoint presentation, if we look to the empty screen behind me…wait theres a problem with the image.”

Sound familiar? Its a pity that today some professionals feel naked without the support of high-tech gadgets to teach a class, or give a presentation.

Weve seen too many of those “robots” that come in, hook up enough cables to go bungee jumping off the Hoover Dam and then start their automated presentations.

Ive been subjected to sitting at such displays of unfocused, general, cookie cutter presentations by extremely boring, unprepared, and impersonal speakers who talk for two hours in a “formatted way” as if they memorized every word from some pitch written on some telemarketers “prompt” card.

When you are the trainer or speaker ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the purpose of this training/speech?
  • Who is my audience?
  • What is the main subject?
  • How much time do I have?
  • Do I have a plan “B” if theyre a tough crowd?
  • Will I need to “plant” an “ice breaker” in the group?

In the military theres no time to lose. Briefings or presentations have to be short and to the point.

If its a training presentation, you mention each major subject that you will cover, make an illustrative short example thats related to what you are about to talk next, and then begin.

In order to prevent interruptions, you should anticipate questions when you hit difficult topics, and allow time to ask the audience if they have any questions so that you can answer them all in the context of your presentation instead of one by one, to save time.

You dont have to tell jokes, or resort to outrageous stunts in order to gain the attention you need from your audience if you prepare well before every presentation. Remember, this isnt about you–the trainer or speaker. It is about what the audience will get from your presentation, and it should be a lot more than having had a good laugh, or being impressed by your flamboyant personality.

A speaker or trainer who wants to shine brighter than his or her theme or main subject is like an obnoxious politician that gets carried away, waving his arms around, getting people fired up…while delivering the eulogy at a funeral.

Dan Velazquez
Senior Underwriter
Great American Life of Puerto Rico


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, August 26, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.