Being talked at just doesn’t work for me!

Last week I  spent 3 days being trained (by 2 different organisations) in preparation for a programme that I will be working on this year. I will start by stating that compared to previous experiences the training was actually quite good, with excellent communicators, well paced presentations, ample time for breaks and networking – but (and this is a big but) the training was probably 80-90% being talked at (and often accompanied by badly produced PowerPoint slides).

Now this model of training doesn’t work for me at all – I need to do things – I cannot just listen and absorb information, I need to do something with that information in order to fully understand it, comprehend it, and be able to use it, and I am sure that I am not alone in being this way. I do my best, by having my laptop with me, and recording the information into a Mind Map – which helps me to stay focussed, gives me a permanent record of my notes and the process of creating the map is itself an example of me ‘using’ the information (much more so than just writing it down on paper in the order that it happens to come out of the presenters mouth), but after 3 days, even this wasn’t enough.

I am not the sort of person that gives criticism without ever suggesting improvements so what could have been done differently?

Give me the presentation electronically

We were given printed handouts of the PowerPoint presentations – but for me, I would rather have it in electronic format – that way I can make notes into the Presentation itself as we go along – this is much easier for me to manage and keep for the future, as well as allowing me to spend more time processing the information, rather than just copying out (either onto paper or typing) the information that is in the presentation.

Pre-prepare some of the information into a video

There were times over the 3 days, where the different presenters were giving ‘standard’ talks that they obviously do over and over again – and quite often spent 10 minutes saying what could have been said in about 3 minutes. In these cases, that person could have created a short, planned video of what they wanted to say. When people do this, they tend to say less than when they are stood in front of a live audience – which means that it is often more concise, can be referred to at a later date if necessary and breaks up the monotony of the day. Having played and watched the video – you then have a chance for a few questions – a far more engaging model than just ‘preaching’

Make use of the audience’s skill

All of the people that were in the audience were (or should have been from the application process) experienced educators and trainers – but this wasn’t recognised in the training, as we were regularly told things that we do naturally – With ‘train the trainer’ type training, things need to be changed to cater for the different audiences skills.

Don’t just read out printed information

For all 3 days training there was some very good printed resources to accompany the training – which was great – they were well written, easy to use and a good resource for me to use over the coming year. But for some reason the trainers felt the need to in essence read the resources to me. OK I am not the quickest of readers – but I can read, so that was just wasted time. Letting me quietly read the information and then doing something with it would have been far more useful.

Rant over!

3 Responses

  1. Why do these trainers ignore the active approaches we use every day of our training lives? Why is there no evidence of practising what we promote? I fear that I too will be shortly subjected to the same style of dissemination training.

  2. This made me laugh, Dave. I remember the ILT champs training which consisted of 3 days of PowerPoints and very little time with actual technology. Has this template changed? Not much and not very often. No examples given in public, though, I’m afraid.

    Keep up the good work. The video clip of the work with the deaf students has been sent out to many and is an excellent example of very helpful material. Thanks.

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