Category Archives: From the Road

From the Road

Music You Can Dance to, and Other Hidden Training Tips

Music is a big part of my training experiences. Anytime I’m laying out the flow for a training design, or stepping in front of an audience, I have a song playing in my head. Setting the tone, driving the pace, bringing everything together. I’ve used music as a pre-session and break filler, and even, on occasion, as examples in training (I find the best examples tend to be in ¾ time).

So, no surprise that as I’ve been putting together my REACH presentation on trainer tips over the last couple of weeks, there was a song playing in my head. I was about halfway through the presentation when the lyrics from this song became very clear (not always the case) and triggered one of my favorite sayings from my past: “Most of the significant problems you face can be solved in the lyrics of songs.”

I hadn’t reflected on this sage advice in a long time, so I started to wonder: is this as applicable today as it was in those lovelorn late-teen to early-twenties years? Could it apply to training problems? I decided to put it to the test. For those of you who enjoy a good “hum-along,” here is some advice that I was able to tap out as I considered a couple of common training challenges.

Training Challenge: A participant asks if it’s all right to miss the afternoon.
Response: Should I stay or should I go? If I go there could be trouble.

Training Challenge:
Participants want to stay with their table groups instead of pairing up with a learning partner.
Response: It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two make it outta sight.

Training Challenge: How do I memorize everybody’s name in the session?
Response: Well I remember, I remember, don’t worry. How could I ever forget? It’s the first time, the last time we ever met.

Training Challenge: No one seems to be responding to the questions you ask.
Response: Yeah, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. There will be an answer, let it be.
So next time you feel stuck, it might help to turn on the radio and, “Oh, oh, listen to the music!”

P.S. Can you identify all the songs referenced above? Comment below and log your guesses.

From the Road

Look, Mom! I’m training in short bursts!

Years ago I joined an organization and discovered a character who worked there. He was an interesting blend of wisdom, mischief, creativity, and crazy. You know that type. I’d find him engaged in some strange activity, or distilling some semi-absurd piece of advice, and think, “What in the world??!!?!” I’d walk away and invariably the idea or activity would start to unfold in my mind; and what seemed like utter nonsense started to bloom into genius. So here’s one of his “crazy” ideas.

One day I walked into his office for some reason, and he immediately started in with an idea he was toying with. “People who train in short bursts are vastly more effective at creating behavior change.” I thought to myself, “Did he just say training in short bursts? What in the world?” I listened politely as he went on to describe that breaking training into small chunks and delivering it over a spaced period of time allows participants to assimilate the learning points and have them incorporate the new ideas into their everyday routine. All the while I was generating reasons why the idea was more crazy than practical. And can you blame me? Even the term “short bursts” was a little on the “far out there” side (ok, maybe a lot on the “far out there” side). Some of my other colleagues confirmed my original thoughts when they came up with the slightly mocking slogan, “Look Mom! I’m training in short bursts!”

Fast forward some years. I was working on particularly difficult training rollout design. We were trying to transform training’s image from learning event to learning experience. We need to make sure that leaders, especially the mid-level group, were having more regular learning experiences. I was wrestling with how to do this when it hit me, “We need to take this program and spread it out over a longer period of time. We need to ‘train in short bursts!’” The idea had come full circle. We did it, and it worked.

Since that time, a lot of research has emerged confirming the results we experienced in that organizational initiative. Anders Ericsson, for one, in his research, demonstrates the benefit of breaking ideas and concepts into small pieces (I wonder if he researched in short bursts?).

It’s a funny thing to consider how what once was a crazy, outlandish, radical idea is now one of the best-proven ways to go about training. So now I say to you, “Go forth and train in short bursts!”

From the Road

What Happens in Vegas . . .

Oh, the Vegas Rule. What a simple little phrase: “What happens here, stays here!”

Being raised in Nevada, I always enjoy a solid reference to the state of my heart (feel free to join me in the first verse of “Home Means Nevada” if you’re a Nevadan at heart, or take a short Google field trip to enjoy someone else singing it in case you’re not familiar).

Now that you’re back from your mini parenthetical field trip, what, if anything, does this have to do with training? Well it’s only one of the most commonly invoked ground rules by trainers to insure confidentiality in a class. And I’ve noticed an upswing in the number of trainers who include this rule during the expectations—setting portion of their classes.

I think it provides participants some comfort to know that anything discussed with their learning partner won’t leave that room. And unfortunately, all too often it never does. Participants work on tough messages, practice useful skills, and then, “what happened there, stays there.” They treat their application case-related discussions as a guilty pleasure only to be indulged in the secret, dark corners of a training room. And since they miss the opportunity to further grow and develop their skills with a real world application, they are left with vague, but positive recollections of a safer place where all skills were good, and all conversations productive—if only they could transport back to the safety of the classroom experience.

So as much as it pains me to even allow the words to escape my mouth, you need to be actively working on ways to counteract the long-term affects of the Vegas Rule. And make sure you’re approaching it in a balanced manner. Be very clear that while participants won’t be required to “go public” with all of the details of their learning partner discussions during the class, the whole point of the training is to make sure that “what happens here, transfers to there,” wherever their “there” happens to be.