Ask The Expert Vol. 6

The Expert solves problems large and small for our readers…he knows all, and tells some.

Dear Expert: I am about to conduct my first training session. What suggestions can you provide? Teaching  in Trenton

Dear Teaching: When conducting a training session your goal is to communicate the information and have the participants understand and apply the information to their jobs. Preferably without a lot of backchat from the dead weight in front of you. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Recognize differences in participants, backgrounds, needs and learning abilities, but for God’s sake, don’t change anything you want to do to accommodate them.
  • Allow participants to move only when absolutely necessary to prevent rigor mortis.
  • Use guiding comments such as “Are you nuts?,” “Gimme a break!” “Now I’ve heard everything!” and “Are you liquored up?” to provide opportunities for participants to see how dumb they really are.
  • Use stories to clarify the information in the training session. For example, you might relate an amusing anecdote about how a terminated employee ended up broke and in the gutter as a result of not doing everything a trainer requested.
  • Set a time schedule and monitor it throughout the session. Discussions and practice may make the session longer, depending on the number of participants, but make sure that it doesn’t cut into your “special time”.

Dear Expert: In a staff meeting, my boss used the words “Deproductify”, “Completableness” and “Strategicness” in the same sentence. What can this possibly mean? Flummoxed in Flanders

Dear Flummoxed: It means that a) your boss is has a genius for creating corporate gibberish, and b) it’s time to find a new job.

Dear Expert: As a Team Leader, I am charged with running our meetings. I’ve had trouble getting participation, and have heard that questions can be helpful. Can this be true? Lost In Lincoln

Dear Lost: Questions can indeed be helpful. For example, you can use them to:

  • Kick off a meeting
  • End a boring meeting
  • Determine the depth of a participant’s stupidity
  • Put people on the spot
  • Change the subject abruptly
  • Identify who the “dunce” is

One word of warning, though: Once started, participation can be difficult to stop. Using questions can often give participants the idea that they can ask questions, too. This unfortunate turn of events can be quickly squelched by using the Reverse Question. For example, if a participant asks you a question that might put you on the spot, you may turn the question around by asking:

  • “Who wants to know?”
  • “What are you, writing a book?”
  • “Who are you to accuse me?”
  • “Shut up…you are!”

When properly applied, this technique elicits hushed silence, puts the kibosh on pointless chatter and keeps the meeting on track.

Dear Expert: It’s me again. Do you have any techniques for handling difficult participants in a training session? Teaching in Trenton

Dear Teaching: Of course! To wit:

  • A participant who won’t be budged from his or her opinions can be asked to accept the group consensus for the moment and then assured that you will be glad to discuss his or her point of view later…perhaps during the exit interview. If that doesn’t work, gag the participant.
  • A participant who points out the worst in every idea but seldom offers an alternative is usually management material, but if not, gag.
  • An overly talkative participant can be put back on track by restating the termination policy, or by pointing out (with a smile) that the person is “making a career decision.”
  • A reserved participant can be used as a good example for the others, but always check for a pulse.
  • A daydreamer in the group can be brought back to attention by firing a starter’s pistol (or real gun, if handy) next to his or her ear.
Send your queries to The Expert…no subject too arcane!

Today’s Fact-Cetera

The term “aromatherapy” was coined in 1928.

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