Presentation Extenders – training that works

Let’s face it. A day of training or an hour of speaking helps fill a training need from a training director’s or administrator’s standpoint. But what does it do for the student?

It doesn’t matter how much you spent on speaker/training fees. Retention of a one-time offering is as good as the Chinese food you filled up on at noon. By 2:00 your stomach has forgotten you ate.

Even the most powerful content has 29% stick-ability.

If you want to nourish your practice groups, new associates, partners or support team, get the real meat and potatoes. And the appetizers, desserts and after-dinner mints.

With training, what you really want is behavior change. One-time presentations give information/entertainment that help audiences decide whether it was worth the time they took to sit through it. Is that the end result? No. Behavior change is the result.

For instance, focusing on presentation delivery has the hopeful result of professionals speaking, focusing on their techniques and delivering a message that is engaging, clear and meaningful. That’s the goal. In a one-time talk that goal falls short. All you can create is information, perhaps an experience and maybe a nugget for take-away.

Presentations have limited results.

I am a professional speaker. For me to make the above statement, I could do my profession a disservice. That is not my intention. There is good reason for hiring speakers. But before you do, give the following some thought.

I have had firms contact me with the desire for a lunch and learn presentation. In discovering more about this, what they really want is to entice their associates into a conference room with free food, where a speaker will give a useful talk on a topic that offers some insight. Usually they create a time-frame of 60 minutes for lunch, speaker introduction, speech, Q & A and casual follow-ups afterwards.

So what happens is associates filter into the conference as soon as they are able, sometimes timely, otherwise when they can. They do a quick peek at the food and drink table, grab refreshments, find a seat and put their head down to dig into their food. To them, the perk is a free meal. Usually, they don’t know the speaker, don’t have time for conversation with them and keep their mouths shut, smart phones open and hands engaged with their meal. All while the speaker is presenting.

When the meal is finished, they pack up their dishware, review their phone messages, glance at the speaker and perhaps take a note or two. Regardless of how engaging the presenter is, the bottom line is, there is a finite amount of time for information to touch an emotional nerve. And of course this “nerve touching” is what it takes for behaviors to change. That, and a few poignant questions for clarity, discussion to further each sides’ understanding and decision that it’s worth the sacrifice to shift from known practices to unknown ones.

29% retention of information does not lead to behavior change. It leads to siphoning down to a meaningful nugget that may or may not motivate any action. In this case, the firm has just thrown good money into a bottomless pit. They cannot measure any results other than with a survey of how well the attendees liked the speaker.

How do you extend the training to create results you are after? It isn’t complicated.

To get results with presentations, first, decide to do something that extends your dollar and creates the outcome desired.

1. When seeking a presenter, discover what their objectives are but don’t stop there. Ask what their follow up is. With a follow-up, there is a way to measure results with the objectives.

2. Encourage focused time for the presentation vs. casual time. For instance, if lunch is served, invite speaker to come for casual conversation but insist they hold off from presenting until lunch is over. This creates an engagement that is worth everyone’s time.

3. Be open to ways follow up can happen from the presenter, within the practice groups or associates/partner teams and throughout the firm.

A past high school teacher, I know we humans come into environments with many things going on in our heads. It is only over time that useful information sinks in. It is over time rapport is established with a presenter/trainer that creates awareness, insight and motivation for behavior change.

This is why I now talk most program directors out of hiring me as a presenter. I insist they put their money to good use and hire a presenter/coach. Even if it’s only a 30-day arrangement. What does this look like?

The day of the presentation I engage listeners by asking them how they will personally apply a tip learned, refer to follow-up calls with each attendee, provide a list of times to make a 10 minute call with each person, give everyone time to sign up for their spot and then make the calls happen.

What’s the outcome difference? 82% retention. And behavior change. Not only do the content and tips stay with attendees beyond the presentation, it surfaces with each reminder email I send out about the upcoming calls. Then when attendees voice their opinions about tips and how they apply them, they re-motivate themselves to apply the behavior.

Follow-up extends the training. Follow-up allows for behavior change. These are the results you want.

As a trainer, consider this approach. As a speaker, get creative about follow-up and how to reference it within presentation content. Get beyond 29%.

Peer Presentation Group workshops

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On July 31st, 2012, posted in: action, coaching, engagement, impact, presentation by