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From the Road

From the Road: Stick the Landing

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

From the Road

I don’t know about you, but I love the Olympics. So these last two weeks have been great as my family and I watched so many different events that we don’t get to see on a regular basis. This year I’ve been especially fascinated by how many of the events involve difficult to execute tricks. So many of the athletes are jump-twisting, or twist-spinning, or spin-flipping. And a few were so bold as to attempt a jumping-spinning-twisting-flipping kind of thing that I could only do on accident. I get dizzy for them just thinking about it. And yet one of the most important elements of these tricks was the landing. You’ve got to stick the landing. However upside down or backward the athlete got, it mattered what happened during the landing.

Watching all these fabulous athletes got me thinking about training. Many trainers move through the space, weaving in and out of chairs, participants, desks, power cords, and other similar obstacles as they present their material. But when it comes to giving instructions they need to stick the landing—they need to be standing still, firmly planted on the ground.

We’ve found over the years that participants give their lowest ratings when asked if they understood what to do during exercises and activities. When a trainer stands still, participants focus on what he or she is saying, and not his or her movements. By “sticking the landing” you accentuate your point making it more likely that participants will listen and understand.

And just like in the Olympics, standing still while giving instructions sounds easy, but it’s harder than you think. I still find myself getting a little off balance, trying desperately to stand still, and feeling the pull to move around. Next time you train, take a 3×5 card with you and keep track of how you do. And by all means, feel free to twist, spin, and do everything else that makes you the type of trainer you are. Just remember when it comes to instructions, you gotta stick the landing.


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

2 thoughts on “From the Road: Stick the Landing”

  1. Great article, Steve. I think you articulate an important trainer skill in a fun, vivid way with the parallel to Olympic performances. I think you nailed–er, stuck–it!

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