Are You Training or Just Transferring Knowledge?

There is a difference! And yet, after 20+ years, 40+ Countries over 6 Continents and more presentations and training sessions than I can count I’m still surprised at how many times a “training” session or “workshop” ends up being nothing more than a long PowerPoint presentation.

So many times Subject Matter Experts approach me and ask why people aren’t listening to them, why people aren’t able to do what the SME wants them to do. Of course, when I ask how they go about training people on the expertise, the answer is for them to show me a very long PowerPoint presentation, every slide jammed with 12pt text. Of course, the audience isn’t learning anything!

All of this leads me to believe that we still struggle with the difference between knowledge and learning. I know you know this but I’m going to say it again – a PowerPoint Presentation is not training. A PowerPoint presentation is a one-way transfer of knowledge and knowing something and being able to do it are two different things. Not to mention that we retain very little of what we hear.

When you “tell” you transfer knowledge, when you “engage” you create learning.

I believe we can all agree that learning is important. The future requires certain skills that we need to provide training for. The challenge is time…no one has the time to attend training and so, we end up putting all the “learning” into presentation (whether in person or virtual) and assume that people will know what to do. And then we’re confused when they aren’t doing what we told them, they aren’t following protocol or behaving in the appropriate way or they don’t know what they’re supposed to know. That’s because they didn’t learn anything.

So how do we create transformational learning events? Events that are not seen as a waste of time, that people want to attend? Events that help people get better at what they do?

We can start by creating educational events that engage not just people’s minds, but their hearts too. This requires both the science of adult learning theory and the art of creativity in design. When done correctly, the result is a powerful experience that leaves people walking out being able to do more than when they walked in.

Think about your own Talent Development Programs…

How engaging is your training? Are you just transferring knowledge or, are they truly learning to apply the information through creative application activities? Are you engaging learnings hearts and minds? Are there activities that invoke various emotions in participants and cause them to reflect on how the learning fits in to their own experience?

Does your training tell a story with each piece building on the last? Does it leave the participants with a development plan that they created to apply their learning? People don’t learn anything through being told. They do learn through being engaged, through trying and failing, and then trying again.

Many a closed mind has been opened by allowing them to discover what they don’t know and can’t do, and then guiding them to learn the skills to do it. This is also how we build confidence in others.

A good educational event doesn’t have to take days, but most are not going to be achieved in an hour either. It’s about recognizing the return on your training investment.

If you are interested in learning more:

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