The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

A Presenter’s Tip: Three Questions to Ask in Mandatory Training Sessions

When employees are required to attend a training session and in a subject they may not have interest in is perhaps the biggest challenge for a presenter. 

Robert Bly, author of Persuasive Presentations for Business, writes: 

How many of you would be just thrilled to be told to go to course on Effective Technical Writing.  Not many for sure!

People often get sent to classes because someone thinks they have a problem and need to improve.  No one says it, but we all understand that we don’t get sent unless there’s a problem.

The problem is that those who get sent don’t think they have a problem and don’t think they need to be there. 

Here’s what Bly does: 

“In my Effective Technical Writing class, I start my presentation by asking the class three questions.” 

“First, I ask how many of the attendees are there voluntarily vs. how many were forced to go.  When I say, ‘How many were sent here against your will?’ it gets a laugh and all hands in the room go up.”

“Next I ask how many of the attendees think writing is important.  Almost no hands go up, and I see the students exchanging glances; they know they are denigrating my subject, and are vaguely embarrassed or uncomfortable about telling this to the teacher.”

“Then I ask the group how many of them are looking forward to the class.  A few hands go up out of politeness, but not many.”

“Then I say:  ‘Okay, you were forced to be here, you don’t think writing is important, and you aren’t interested in the class I’m about to teach.  Well, wouldn’t you love to be me right about now!’  The class bursts into sympathetic, good-natured laughter, and I know I have them in the palm of my hand.” 

I think it’s worth a try – how about you?  Want to know more?  Read the book, Persuasive Presentations for Business.