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From the Road

The Next Ten Minutes and Beyond!

Steve WillisSteve Willis is a Master Trainer and Vice President of Professional Services at VitalSmarts.

From the Road

In last month’s post, I talked about those crucial first ten minutes of a session—the time when the participants decide how much attention they are going to give to you and the material. But, what about the 107 ten-minute segments (this comprises the math portion of this article) that follow? It turns out each ten-minute segment is pretty important, and to describe exactly why and how that is, I’m going to rely on a mash-up.

What’s a mash-up you say? Have you ever read two books on completely different topics that present ideas which seem so similar that you’d like to blend them together—kind of in a “you got chocolate in my peanut butter” sort of way? Doing so would constitute a mash-up.

So here is my mash-up of Brain Rule #4 from John Medina’s Brain Rules with Change the Pace fromDoug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion.

Brain Rule #4: Audiences check out after ten minutes, but you grab them back.

Change the Pace: Using a variety of activities to accomplish your objectives on the same topic and moving from one to the other creates the illusion of speed.

When you mash these two together you realize that people don’t want you to switch topics every ten minutes or even increase the number of topics covered. They want to be engaged. And given that their attention lasts about ten minutes, you have to change up the type of delivery. Pace is an illusion. You can seem to go fast while not skipping from idea to idea, but rather moving in between different activities that help you fully explore an idea.

So what does this mean for trainers? You should be thinking about your presentations in segments of ten minutes. Every ten minutes or so you should change the mode or style of learning. If you’ve been engaged in an extended lecture, it’s time to switch to a table activity, or have people turn and teach their partner, or turn and identify three opportunities to use or apply the idea currently being discussed. Now take ten, and then get back to work.

What are your thoughts? Suggestions?


Steve Willis

As one of the original trainers at VitalSmarts, Steve has been on the forefront of developing award-winning training programs, perfecting quality training platforms, and delivering training content that has influenced more than 500,000 people to date. In addition, Steve has trained and certified thousands of employees, managers, and trainers from Fortune 500 companies across the nation. read more

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