Trainers: Establish Context and a Reason to Participate

January 23, 2017 in Greg Owen-Boger, Posts for Buyers, Talent Development, Training, Video

In this video, produced by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Greg Owen-Boger, Turpin’s VP, discusses why providing context and reason to participate is important.

 

Have you ever been sitting in a meeting, a presentation, or a training session and wondered what am I doing here? What are we trying to accomplish? Of course you have and it happens all the time. And the reason for it is because the leader of that communication event just didn’t take the time to set the context for you.

So my colleagues and I always recommend stating what may seem painfully obvious to you. Here’s an example: Hey, thanks for coming out to the meeting today. We’re going to be going over the budgeting process so that when it comes to planning for next fiscal year, you’ll understand why the leadership needs so much detailed information so early.

So as you can see, it only takes a quick moment to provide that context and reason to participate. And trust me on this, it’s time really well spent.

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2 Levels of Success in Business Communication

June 1, 2016 in Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Meetings, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Talent Development, Training

Originally published on Training Industry’s blog May 23, 2016

TrainingIndustry2LevelsAs a leader, you expect the people you work with to communicate effectively and efficiently. Too often, they don’t. Meetings waste time. Presentations fail to persuade and sometimes seem pointless. Employees disengage, and everyone dreads the next meeting.

Much of this could be avoided if people remembered that all business communication—whether it takes place during meetings, presentations, or important one-on-ones—has to succeed on two levels. Helping your employees understand this is the first step toward improvement.

The first level of success gets a lot of attention. It’s about achieving a business goal—getting others to understand, buy or agree to something—whatever needs to get done that day. The business goal cannot be reached, or reached easily, without the second level of success.

The second level is about how the communication process is managed. No one wants to feel they have to work hard to understand what’s going on. Nobody wants to feel their time is being wasted. What everyone does want is a sense of ease, relevance and efficiency. Or, to put it another way, people go into every meeting, presentation or training session with three needs in mind:

  1. They don’t want to work harder than they have to.
  2. They want it to be about them.
  3. They don’t want to feel their time is wasted.

Read the full article here.

by Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin Communication and co-author of the book, “The Orderly Conversation”

More About When and How to Ask Questions During Your Presentations

April 1, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Introduction, Meetings, Presentation, Training

The article we shared on Facebook last week, Do you really expect me to respond to that?, sparked a question from Barbara.

Hey Dale, could we have a post soon on questions that aren’t manipulative? That is, how/when to place a question that helps you gauge your audience and gather information? For example, “How many of you switched to the new software at least a year ago? Within the last six months? Haven’t switched yet?” I can see that the information could be useful to the presenter in tailoring their talking points, but I can also see it as kind of annoying. So, best practices?

Barbara’s question is a good one for anyone who has ever gathered—or attempted to gather—information from audience members during a presentation or training session. As she points out, learning more about your audience’s knowledge or perspective really does help you tailor the information you’re delivering to their needs.

The challenge is to gather information in a way that doesn’t squander the audience’s good will.dale_ludwig_hi-res_color

Before I list a few best practices for this type of interaction, let me emphasize the fundamental issue involved: when you ask your audience to take an active role in the conversation, by answering a question or participating in a discussion, you are asking them to do you a favor.

In some situations, you are also asking them to take a risk. For example, “How many of you are struggling with the new software?” may be a question people may not want to respond to in public. They may fear they are the only person struggling or maybe they have been avoiding the new software for months and would rather not admit it.

Gathering information, then, needs to be managed in a way that makes the audience feel they are participating in a safe, necessary, and fruitful discussion. They need to believe you have done your homework, there is a reason they should respond, and you respect their time and effort.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Earn the right to ask for participation. As I said in my previous post, don’t begin with a question. Create context and establish the right tone first.
  • Explain why you need information from them. Will it make the conversation better? More efficient? Quicker?
  • Acknowledge that by responding to you, the group is helping you do your job. Just because they came to the meeting doesn’t mean they are ready to respond to your questions. Make it easy for them and be genuinely appreciative.
  • Don’t condescend. If all you’re doing is fishing for the “right” answer to a question, you’re misusing the interactive process and treating adults like children. This often happens during training sessions. The questions you ask should not feel like a test. Instead, they should lead to deeper understanding. For example, instead of saying, “Okay, so we’ve gone over the four steps necessary for this process to work. Who can remind the group what they are?” it’s better to say, “Does everyone feel comfortable with these four steps? If so, we’ll move on. If not, how can I help you be more comfortable?”
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, use the information you gather to shape the rest of the conversation. If you don’t, you’re not only wasting an opportunity, but you’re also disrespecting the effort the audience made to participate.

by Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin Communication and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Orderly Conversation”

Which Hat to Wear? SME or Trainer?

March 2, 2010 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Preparation, Training

This post was inspired by a train-the-trainer session Dale Ludwig and I led two weeks ago.  We were working with a group of SMEs (subject matter experts) in the insurance industry as they prepared to deliver enterprise-wide training sessions.

Of course the SMEs knew a lot about their topics.  The problem was they wanted to share most of it with their trainees.  This desire is typical not only when training, but when delivering every-day presentations as well.  So, during the training session, we helped the SMEs switch hats.  They needed to take off their favorite, most comfortable hat (the SME Hat), and put on a slightly less comfortable one (the Trainer Hat).

When you switch hats like this you’ll realize that trainees and every-day audiences don’t want or need to know everything you know.  (Nor do they have time for it.)  What they need is to be engaged in a well-developed, listener-focused, concise conversation.

So, put on your Trainer Hat the next time you develop a training session or presentation.  Get clear on your objectives.  Think about what your listeners need to learn from you in order to take the action you want them to take.  From there, create an agenda that includes only the information that will help you reach your goals.

One thing that happens when you take off your SME Hat is that you feel like you’re not demonstrating your expertise.  Don’t worry.  When you zero in on what your listeners need and want to know about your topic, they’ll feel like you really care about their perspective and understanding.  And that’s a good thing.

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP and Trainer at Turpin Communication


Need help preparing for your next presentation?  Take this online presentation skills course today: “Preparing a Presentation.”