Home > Freelancers, Instructional Design - General > How Being in Deep Trouble Gave me the Best Training Experience – Ever.

How Being in Deep Trouble Gave me the Best Training Experience – Ever.

About 3 months ago I was driving to a client, at about 0700hrs. The roads were quiet, and I was caught by a speed camera driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone. I was given two options. Either I pay a £60 fine and get 3 points on my licence, or I go on a “Speed Awareness Course” for £80 and do not get the points. Option 3 was do nothing and end up in court, so not really an option…..


I have just returned from the course – the best course I have EVER attended. To explain…..

The trainer walked in and had my attention immediately with his opening gambit; “OK – quieten down now that everyone has discussed their individual miscarriages of justice”.

Lesson 1> He knew the emotional state of his audience – every one of us. He knew our attitude. He knew that WE knew he was right, and we were wrong.

The course was in PowerPoint, but he shut it off every few slides, and got us to talk, to ask, to fill forms, to compete, to question, to debate – all around a planned theme and thread.

Lesson 2> The course was completely interactive and kept us interested.

He took each and every one of us on a journey, and was able to answer every question, defend every counter-argument (for that, read “excuse”), and was able to make us realise he was a complete Subject Matter Expert. He had the addition of the “warstories” to illustrate every fact he told us, like getting a great implementation consultant to train a course on software implementation. He did not “tell us off”, but he did make us all realise that we were trying to justify the unjustifiable.

Lesson 3> He had “been there”, knew his facts, and knew how to disarm rumour and supposition with plain, substantiated facts

He used “storytelling”, to take each of us on a journey until the only, (and obvious conclusion) was that we were at fault when we exceeded the limit. Excuses were pointless, and we all kew it whether we admitted it or not.

Lesson 4> He gently took us to a point where we all had to accept out own faults and accept the truth and relevance of the learning, (whether we admitted it to the reat of the class or not).

He offered facts in “easy to remember” acronyms and sagelike wisdom. This is a great technique for many members of the audience. Examples such as “If your timing at a junction is wrong, it’s called a collision”, and “A distracted driver is called a collision”, almost as a running theme.

Lesson 5> Offer your insights in different ways, to suit different learning preferences if possible.

He told us things about standard roadsigns and road-rules which completely surprised us; I found myself driving home, (under the speed-limit…), and spotting things that I had never seen or considered before. Fill as much of the course with things that make the learner question the habits they have got into. “We speed up when we see signs that denote “Go faster”, yet when we see signs that say “Slow Down” we don’t until we see a reason to do so”.

Lesson 6> Make the course real, make it appropriate, make it personal to everyone.

End with a conclusion. It does not matter whether the conclusion covers everything, but make it demonstrate a reason, for everyone, why they should listen, and remember the learning. He summed the  4-hour course up by stating the objective of the course for the first time, condensing 4-hours into 3 action-oriented words that I hope will stick with me for the rest of my days.

Kill Less Kids

Please don’t let ANYONE, ever tell you again that “compliance courses” are dull and boring. This was the best course, for all reasons, that I have ever attended in 24 years of attending courses. The lessons I learned today were strong, relevant, personal, interesting, unexpected, surprising, and things that I actually found I wanted to learn. If that compliance course is dull and boring – get a new course designer.

I wish all Instructional Designers could experience what I consider to have been a perfect delivery – everyone would learn something.

Including why we should all drive more slowly.

  1. Beth Ipock
    January 25, 2011 at 3:00 am

    These are great reminders. Like you, I am amazed that this was in a “required” course given by a government agency. I am inspired to ensure that I am keeping all of these things in mind as I develop learning experiences. THANKS!


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