Monday, August 17, 2009

Okay, so not totally naked

I recently featured a video on our HR blog that told folks to "Teach Naked." Though, I still believe this to be true, after my stint at Washington Business Week last week and listening to "my kids'" reactions to the various guest speakers, it seems that having a little bit of something something (a la Quentin Tarantino when he guest starred on Alias) behind you isn't a bad idea. It all comes down to learning styles. I know myself to be a audio/visual learner so if someone wants me to truly get it, it's critical that I get to both see and hear the speaker and maybe even view some images or supporting visuals to really understand the message.

In general my group, who ranged in age from 15 to 19 years, seemed to appreciate the speakers who as a general rule did the following things.

  • Involved them in the discussion.
  • Asked / answered questions.
  • Had good supporting visuals.
  • Used video.
  • Told good stories.

They didn't seem to appreciate the speakers who did the following.

  • Talked AT them for one hour.
  • Didn't use visuals.
  • Promoted their company and / or service non-stop.
  • Talked above their experience level.
  • Used a chalkboard.

And, it wasn't just the kids who were paying attention to the speakers. We as CAs had our own opinions about which presentations were and were not interesting. Fascinatingly enough, our reactions weren't that different from the students' interpretations. We all want to learn something and learn it from a charismatic and entertaining speaker. We don't want to have a message shoved down our throats, but we want to learn and listen to something that has value.

So with fall jobs, winter jobs and ski season right around the corner, are you as HR professionals looking at your orientation training materials and presentations, and making sure that they are interesting to all even if you must cover OHSA Right-to-Know one more time? What can you do to help your audience learn and retain the message you're sharing?

From what I saw last week, here are my tips for you.

  • Be interesting.
  • Be engaging.
  • Interact with your audience.
  • Don't preach, and
  • Know your audience.

Good luck!