If you’ve received any formal education at all (which I’m guessing you have, since otherwise this article would probably not have popped up on your radar), then you’ve experienced training sessions that made you want to rip your eyeballs out. You’ve sat through multi-hour lessons that taught you nothing because you spent the entire time catching up on emails and playing games on your phone. What a great way to spend your training dollars!
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are some pretty simple ways to get excellent training for yourself, your team, and your employees at a minimum of cost and maximum of benefit. There are a few more guidelines than what you’ll see below – like, you know, actually creating the training – but these four ideas should show you how to do it right.
Keep It Short! Four months ago, I read that the average person’s attention span was 11 minutes; last month, that number was 8 minutes. If you ignore the fact that we’ll soon be unable to concentrate on feeding ourselves because eating takes too long, what this means for you is that the best training will cover concrete topics in the shortest amount of time possible. The shorter it is, the less it will interrupt your day, and the more likely you are to actually pay attention – unless you’re one of those people who actually watches the 30-minute infomercials at 2am every night.
Keep It Funny! There have been approximately 14 trillion studies to demonstrate the benefits of adding humor to your educational offerings – people pay more attention, they remember it longer, they remember more details, they get excited about learning, it cures illnesses, it’s low in cholesterol, and so on. And while everyone on the planet says “I incorporate humor into all of my training,” that isn’t actually true. It’s not hard to find training that is legitimately entertaining, but it’s extremely important to take the time to do so. There’s no reason that education has to be boring or that entertainment has to be useless, and the best training options out there will find a way to give you both at the same time.
Keep It Surprising! Part of the reason that humor is such an effective training tool is because it will keep your trainees on their toes, constantly wondering what’s going to happen next and thus more attentive than they would be otherwise. There are times when a straightforward lecture is really the only way to convey necessary information, but none of us – repeat, none of us – like being lectured to for very long. If you vary your delivery with approaches your audience is not expecting (jokes, examples of what not to do, etc.) you’ll establish an expectation that yours is not a typical training seminar.
Keep It Coming! The best training is something that people can continually return to. At its core, the overwhelming majority of professional development training, especially ‘soft skills’ training, is reminding people of things they already know. We all know, for example, that we need to be better listeners, but we also consistently forget to do a good job of listening. So if you can provide training in a format that will allow people to continually return to that training – online training courses or on-demand video training, for example – then you’ll get the greatest return on your investment. Keynote presentations are perfect for conferences and for short boosts of enthusiasm at your all-staff days; but for training that you want to last for a long time, there are better options.
Follow these three guidelines, and you’ll be almost guaranteed to have a training program that excites, engages, and resonates with your audience. I hope this has been helpful, and good luck! Because if you’re like me, you’re tired of falling asleep and hitting your head on the desk. It really, really hurts.
This post was written by Jeff Havens of the The Jeff Havens Company. Courses produced by The Jeff Havens company are available in MasteryTCN’s course library.
Jeff Havens is a speaker, author, and professional development expert who tackles leadership, generational, and professional development issues with an exceptional blend of content and entertainment. He is a contributing writer to Fast Company, Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal; and has been featured on CNBC and Fox Business. For more information, or to bring Jeff to your next meeting, call 309-306-1781, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Jeffhavens.com.