Posts Tagged ‘presentation’

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

December 14, 2010 1 comment

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.


The Magic of Instructional Design – Thought #4: The Right Words

September 16, 2010 4 comments

Are the words the right ones?

Many magicians use the phrase “Here I have just a normal deck of cards…”

Firstly, is there any other type? Even if there were, we should not be “telegraphing” this fact. Secondly, whilst magicians call them “decks”, most normal people call them a “pack”. Pursuing this point even further, I am not sure that people looking at a magician need an explanation of what the 52 things you are holding are. Just get on with the trick.

At the “Design” phase of some eLearning, it is critical to understand your audience and their understanding of language. By “language”, I mean the subject of the learning, including the abbreviations, colloquialisms, “buzzwords” and country-specific words. I recently had to explain to an SME from the US that Europeans do not use the phrase “often times”. In Europe the “times” part is just never used. If there is a word or phrase that could be misinterpreted or misunderstood by some of your potential audience, find another word or phrase.

This means you have to understand, completely, the linguistic boundaries of your audience. This is why many excellent stage-magic performances are silent or with music only – words would just confuse the issue. When designing a course – pay particular attention to the words as well as the content – they are different things.

Cathy Moore covers this in detail within her “Dump the Drone” presentation, which covers Buzzwords, Blather, Bogus, Boring and Big Words –

True Story – I drove to a client office yesterday, and listened to the radio. The news was read by Moira Stewart, one of the most beautiful female newsreading and commentating voices I have ever heard. It contained the following statement:

“Permission will be given to some UK farmers to kill badgers, if they have the right credentials”

I would assume the credentials would include having four legs, living in a set, having black and white fur colouring, and snouts. Ah! You mean if the farmers have the right credentials. Say it then…

When I arrived at the office, I went to get a coffee from the machine. It had a sign on the front – “Please do not move, as this breaks the machine”. I stood there like a statue for 7 minutes before someone helped me with the correct interpretation. I then went to the empty presentation/meeting centre. On the table in the foyer was a large folder – on the front cover it said “Press” – I did so, nothing happened – it is obviously broken….

My point is simple – the incorrect choice of words is all around us. At best, the words that are used could perhaps be chosen with a little more thought. If creating a “learning script” of any sort, (especially a presentation), always get it reviewed by someone else before release to trap things such as this.

When creating classroom training, and especially eLearning, do not just use words, use the correct words.

The Magic of Instructional Design – Thought #1

September 6, 2010 1 comment

As well as an Instructional Designer, I am a close-up magician. I go to other people’s dinners, parties, charity balls and weddings. I am paid for having fun 😀
As an old joke goes – I said to my Dad, “Dad, when I grow up I want to be a magician”, and he replied, “Son, you can’t do both”.

I post regularly on magic forums, (yes, they do exist…), and have noticed many posts sharing similar traits and themes to those posted on eLearning/Instructional Design forums, some of which I would like to investigate over the next few posts. These are personal views and observations; I have not performed any statistical analysis to back them up!

Thought #1> Technical Prowess vs. Performance
Magicians love, (absolutely love – sometimes to the point of obsession), discussing sleights, and how to make them better. It is odd that we achieve mastery of sleights at the point where our audience can see nothing of our abilities! The performance side of magic seems to take a second place.

Many learning forum discussions seem to revolve around the technical side of things, “how to do stuff” rather than “how to present stuff”. The theoretical art of eLearning seems to be of interest to fewer people, posts of this type seem to generate less active interest on forums.

One lesson I have learned from both magic and eLearning/presentation sources, is that it’s not how complicated you make it; it’s how simply you present it. Great magical plots are simple to understand from the spectator’s perspective, (although there may be some complicated antics going on behind the scenes…)

In regards to knowledge transfer of any sort, it’s how simple you make it; how simply you show it, how simply you can explain it, how simply you illustrate it, how simply you tell it, and how simple you make the finding of supplemental information and data – no matter how complicated or technical the actual subject.

One great tool to assist you is the “readability statistics” available in Word; it checks how simple the content text is. If necessary – copy the text from PowerPoint to Word.

Remember the KISS principle, (Keep It Short and Simple), and learn how to utilize it in courses, (although ironically, this principle seems to be too simplistic for many people?)

Let me know if you agree, disagree, or need me to explain anything!

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