A recent article series, Gift ideas for learning professionals, shared information about the gifts people can give you. This article looks at a wonderful gift you already give to your participants and suggests ways you can make that gift even more impactful. That gift is the gift of knowledge.
Follow these six suggestions to make your gift even more impactful throughout the year:
1. Be real, be you, but on your nicest day – Put on your “happy” face. Be yourself, in a non-threatening way. Laugh easily. Make it easy for participants to become comfortable surrendering control to you.
2. Make your program about more than the objectives – The objectives are the learning points the sponsoring organization wants to achieve. But what’s in it for the participants? They may want to learn those objectives. Then again, they may not. Participants have a different level of need. They want to know how this information will apply in their lives. Find a practical, emotional hook that will matter to you participants and build your instruction around it (IE-learning a new time recording system is important to participants to ensure they have the money they need to live their lives).
3. Encourage self-discovery – As a general rule, the more you talk, the less they listen. When you say it you own it. When you can get them to say it they own it. Structure information in the form of questions, self-assessments, activities, and experiential situations that help the participants discover information for themselves.
4. Surrender control – Self-discovery requires that you surrender absolute control. You cannot guarantee how participants will respond to the questions you ask. You cannot control the conclusions they draw from activities. Instead, regard whatever happens as a gift. Give them the leeway to explore the content. By surrendering control you will actually gain more power to control what you must, when you must.
5. Listen, really listen – When your participants talk, focus. Hear, and appreciate what they have to say. Paraphrase their comments to verify clarity. Then react to what they said. Do not offer corporate bureaucratic-speak or use their point to make your own.
6. Cherish the gift – Exude the joy of learning. Savor every day, every moment, in the class or conference room. Relish the information. Exhilarate in the joy of participant content discovery. Celebrate the moments of advancement and cheer participant success.
The gift of learning, unlike many gifts, keeps on giving throughout the year. Thank you for sharing it. The world is a better place for your training, teaching, and speaking efforts.