Hooper Leadership Coaching
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Thoughts on Leadership

7 Lessons about Training Adults

I have been doing training for adults since the late 1980's and there are some things I have learned which affect how I plan a training.  This may help you as you consider doing training in your company, church or organization.

Here are 7 lessons about training adults:


1. Attention spans are shorter.

Because we are bombarded with so much information, we cannot hold our attention and focus like we once could.  Studies have confirmed that in America, attention spans are decreasing.  People will not sit through a 30 minute talk like we used to be able to.

2. Activities which involve interaction and action.

Sitting still and listening to a lecture requires great skill for the presenter to keep the audience involved.  It takes great focus for an audience to sit still and listen for longer than a few minutes.  When the audience has the opportunity to interact with each other the learning increases.  If participants can get out of their seats and move for an activity that increases learning.

3. Training without follow up coaching is a waste of time.

Along with a shorter attention span, our ability to hold information longer than a few hours is greatly diminished in our technologically saturated culture.  Studies confirm that when participants of a training receive follow up coaching, the lessons learned in the training can be applied and held on to much longer.  

4. Pictures tell stories that bullet points never can.

Studies confirm that if you have the choice of showing text, text and a picture, or just a picture, showing just a picture has more impact of all three.  The least effective use of Powerpoint or Keynote is to put up information in the form of bullet points and reading them to the audience.  A picture can grab the attention and the words can support the picture.

5. Shorter talks work better than longer talks.

We have been experimenting with giving more 9 minute talks and we are finding that people can hang in there much better.  TED talks have proven that "less is better" in the world of communication.  These days people start checking out if we talk to them more than 8-10 minutes.  The old adage, "Tell them what you are going to say, tell them, and tell them what you said" has been reduced to "tell them".  

6. Fast paced training keeps the brain engaged.

Television and internet has trained our minds to assimilate information so much faster than days gone by.  We keep our training moving along so people can't settle in and get bored.  We cut off discussions right when they are about to climax so they are hungry for the next exercise.

7. Use video clips which touch the whole heart.

Verbal and rational presentations are fine for scientists but most people want to be engaged from their whole heart.  We have been amazed seeing the result of people watching a short video clip and then interacting over questions about how they responded from their mind, emotions, desires and choices.

What are some effective ways you have conducted training for adults?