Monday, February 20, 2012

The Professor and The Trainer

Recently, I had to chance to attend a session on "Strategy" by two people. Let us call them Professor and Trainer.  (No, the ending is not what you think it is)

The Professor had a lively interactive discussion - as did the Trainer.
The Professor spoke for the same time as the trainer - but the Trainer was more interactive, had exercises for us to complete and had reading material.
The Professor spoke about experiences from his work and around the world including historical examples- the Trainer spoke about data points around the world.
The Professor was not the most suave, articulate - the Trainer got all his accents right and could speak like a dream.

So, whose talk do you think we enjoyed?

If you thought that we enjoyed the Trainer, you got it wrong. The Professor beat the Trainer by a wide wide margin.

And therein lies an important lesson for me. That is about understanding the audience.

Sometimes, we focus on making trainings interactive, lively, fill it up with valid data and interesting snippets, but much of that information is public. I mean, if all your talk about strategy is about the usual suspects (Refer my post on customer service), then why do I need a trainer or a professor?

With the spread of the internet, anything that you can get by googling (esp the first page of google) - the chances that your audience can get the same information is as high. Or if you are using the same data points that are available and/or evident to everybody, there is no point.

What you have to say has to be thought-provoking, insightful and create wow moments for your audience along these lines (not the font of the ppt or colour or your accent).

And in this case, the Professor was able to do that far better than the Trainer.  Simply because he gave us more insight and sparked many more "Idea" moments in our brain.

As someone who runs trainings, understanding the audience better will help us create more of those moments. I am not saying knowledge can be substituted (thats a given), but the important realization is that all that jazz in making trainings interactive is useless unless there is substance. As a former boss of mine used to say, "There is no icing without cake".

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