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Dear Fellow Trainers: Let’s Practice What We Preach

Monday, January 22, 2018
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I attended two learning and development conferences this fall and was very excited to learn new technologies and methodologies to inspire me and improve my training delivery skills. Some of the sessions I attended were effective at passing the presenters’ skills and knowledge along to me.

But much of the time I heard, “I know it’s hypocritical for me to stand up here and lecture about how we should never lecture, but… .” The quantity of times I heard these words, in one form or another, come out of a presenter’s mouth was shocking to me. A PowerPoint-lecture-heavy structure would be expected had I attended an engineering conference, albeit it would be equally ineffective. But at a learning and development conference?! We know better!

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Research has shown time and again what we already know: if you want your learners to retain knowledge or skills, simply droning on about the topic for an hour is perhaps the least effective method. The presenters at these conferences know that; they wouldn’t dream of suggesting a one-hour PowerPoint lecture as a learning solution in their daily jobs. So why do we accept a PowerPoint lecture from them when they are teaching us?

This industry is the first and loudest to argue that time or resource constraints are not a valid reason to deliver content poorly. We are the creative individuals walking around with the L&D toolbelts on, filled to the brim with quick and easy ways to make learning interactive and engaging. We are best suited to deliver amazing learning experiences.

Enough with the excuses, enough with “I know I shouldn’t lecture, but… .” If you have the privilege of being selected to speak at a conference or event, please remember that your session attendees have paid good money and are taking time off work to come spend an hour with you. Practice what you preach and arrive bearing an engaging, interactive, learner-centric plan to deliver on the learning objectives you advertised.

About the Author
Marci Morford is an emerging L&D leader, focused on leveraging technology to create cutting-edge e-learning and blended learning programs for adults.
10 Comments
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Well said! Couldn't agree more. They say you "play the way you practice" so it's extremely important for L&D professionals to use every opportunity to deliver a quality session. We can't afford to be lax, even when amongst peers. Plus delivering to a group of L&D professionals provides us with an awesome opportunity to seek feedback.
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I like the point made here. I would say though another method of 'teaching' which I find tedious and a cause for major eye-roll is the 'turn to the person next to you and discuss X.' Once in a blue moon I find this exercise relevant especially if the mission is clear and actionable (especially if you happen to be sitting near equally engaging individuals). However, most times I feel like it's a time waster and it's these times I would actually prefer to be 'lectured' to
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I find it fascinating how popular non-lecture has become in recent years. While it may not be ideal for all learning sessions, I personally love learning from lectures and find it quite a good learning path for my development style.
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