I hate training that is mandatory.  I especially hate mandatory training that only deals with cursory, shallow, general information.  Reiterating self evident information is not training.  Our presenter does not have an electric personality.  He reads the slides, he speaks extremely slowly and wanders all over the speaking area without purpose.  He moves just quick enough to indicate he’s not dead, but not fast enough to discourage jr. high kids from seeing him as a moving target.

He isn’t tailoring his message to his audience.  He and his presentation have no impact on the people he’s training. What is the point he’s trying to make?  He is trying to teach experienced people how and why to run an event.  They already know this stuff, and have done successful events multiple times.  Yet they are making this training mandatory.  I would venture to say he’s never actually run an upper level event–one that involves multiple districts and multiple activities.  Am I dumping on this guy because I don’t like him?  My goodness no! He’s a lovely man—kind, caring, and with a genuine wish to help his fellows.  He’s not an experienced trainer.

I was watching “This is Us” last night, and there was this scene where the rather large character is at a weight watching type of meeting.  It looked like a 12-step program.  The leader was going on about how much the program had done for her and how she now wanted to help others achieve the success she’d had.  This leader was enormous.  One might postulate that she had not, as yet, achieved the success she was purporting to pass on to her participants.  I go to lots of seminars.  There are times when I think to myself, “Why am I here?  This guy doesn’t know as much about the subject as I do!  Why did I pay for a ticket?”  There was one that spoke about talking to oneself.  I thought that after listening for 30 min he might have made a point that I could actually write down in my notes.  My paper was blank.  My first thought, “Amateur…”  There was another talking about leadership and my first thoughts, “Amateur, and he’s supposed to be a trained speaker?”  There was another expert talking about teaching and training.  He didn’t get 5 minutes into his spiel when I wanted to stop him and ask him how long he’d taught in the public school system.  What he was saying would have gotten him booed out of the classroom.  He would have had nothing but low-level rioting every day.  Why are unqualified people allowed to stand up and posture in front of real experts?  Why are they hired?  I read their books, and they’re shallow and the  conclusions they make do not follow any type of logic.  Their experiences are glossed over or unmentioned.  “Gentlemen, if you want to keep the interest of your junior high science class, wear a different tie–one with cartoon characters on it.”  Junior High?  Hands in laps?  In a science class?  Really?  Where did you find out this nugget?  Now I had one science teacher that lit his tie on fire and it didn’t burn.  (Combination of isopropyl alcohol and water.) That got my attention, but I was in high school then.

If you are going to train me, you need to know more than I do or know how to ask the questions that allow me to discover the answer.  I was in a seminar where we broke into groups and had to teach each other how to juggle.  No one in my group knew how to juggle.  The purpose of the exercise was in coaching people.  The coach in our group didn’t have to KNOW how to juggle, he just had to ask the right questions.  And believe it or not, when the coach asked the questions and the juggler responded and thought things through, suddenly non-jugglers became jugglers!  But that’s not what happened in this mandatory training.  This well-meaning but ineffective speaker was talking to us as if we had never run an event before.  He didn’t assess his audience before he started his presentation.  There wasn’t a person in the room that didn’t have at least 5 years doing events under their belts.

When one of the participants (who happened to be the leader of the group this guy was addressing) started making things interesting by asking questions from the floor, the speaker tried to rein the conversation in so he could finish his ineffective slideshow.  If you find yourself in a situation where you know there is a wealth of information in the audience that you don’t currently have, learn to approach it like a coach instead of a teacher/trainer.  Ask insightful questions and allow the audience to participate.  You can bet your audience members will be taking notes like crazy.

I guess I’m getting too old to maintain my patience level.  I don’t suffer fools.  I have sudden urges to start heckling from the floor.  I have to fight for self control to keep from launching projectiles from my seat in the back of the room.  I try to avoid mandatory training when I see who’s running it and I don’t recognize any talent or special knowledge they can offer.

Get help.  Don’t get in front of an audience if you’re not having more success than they are.

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