The Presenter’s Dilemma: 5 Ways To Make Your Training Stick

by drjim on February 2, 2009

Presenters Need To Take Action In Order To Prevent Their Training From Slipping Away

Presenters Need To Take Action In Order To Prevent Their Training From Slipping Away

Ok, so it’s time to talk about an ugly little secret that nobody who does presentations really like to talk about. What’s the secret? Most of the time what we tell our audience goes in one ear and out the other. It just doesn’t stick.

In fact, if you are presenting training or a new way of doing business to an audience, some studies have shown that only 10% – 40% of what you tell your audience will ever be used by them on the job. Ouch! What are we doing wrong?

Dr. Harry Martin teaches at Cleveland State University in (of course) Cleveland. He is an expert in both management and labor relations. He’s got some thoughts on what is going wrong here…

Take heart – it’s probably not all about you. When we try to train our audiences, we are really talking about having them change their lives. Change has the unfortunate side effect of creating anxiety in our audience and they will actively seek to avoid change at almost any cost. So is this a losing game?

Good news – the answer is no. However, you’ve got to start doing some additional work. You need to make sure that a workplace environment that will actively encourage your audience to continue to change is set up and exists long after your presentation is over. In a nutshell, this means that the training can’t end when your audience walks out the door. So what’s the trick to doing this?

It turns out that there are five simple things that you can either do during your presentation or cause to occur after your presentation is over that will dramatically boost the use of the information that you delivered:

  • Write It Down!: Everyone should recognize this one from all of those goal setting / time management programs that we’re always studying – just getting your audience to write an action plan on how they are going to use what you’ve covered makes it more likely that they’ll do it.
  • This Will Be On The Test: If you tell your audience that they are going to be tested on the material that you’ll be talking about, then they are much more likely to use what you are talking about. The test doesn’t have to be a written test, it can be as simple as having them observed and given feedback on their performance. I like it best when the audience is measured before your presentation and then two times afterwords – this always seem to produce the greatest results.
  • Peer Pressure Is Good: It turns out that having your audience get back together in “peer meetings” is a great way to have them self-motivate to use what you’ve taught them. What’s even more interesting is that this works even better when your audience’s management is only lukewarm in their support for your message.
  • Boosting Bosses: Having managers who are both supportive and actively involved does a lot to increase the odds that your audience will retain and use what you’ve taught them. This, of course, means that you are going to need to make sure that the bosses are involved in your training.
  • Ask The Expert: Finally, having the ability to reach out and ask an expert for help in solving a sticky issue or resolving a problem goes a long way in helping your audience use what you’ve told them. More often than not, you are the expert – make sure that you make arrangements so that you can be contacted after your presentation is over and done with.

When you’ve been to a training class, did you feel as though you were able to apply what you had been taught? What helped / stopped you from applying your new knowledge? What would have made it easier for you to do more with what you had learned? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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