This Year’s Dale Carnegie Training Refresher

dale carnegie yearly training refresher for instructors

This past weekend, the Dale Carnegie training team of NE Ohio held their yearly training refresher.

This year’s area of focus was Active Engagement and Business Acumen.

This training refresher started with a spirited discussions on engagement, led by our moderator, Laura Nortz.  One topic we covered in depth were the conditions that impeded engagement in the classroom and in the workplace.  Supplementing our discussion were our usual instructor exercises. These included how to create sessions that addressed the topic of workplace active engagement. In addition, we experimented with methods of getting our audience more engaged in the training classroom.

The afternoon session centered on business acumen. We reviewed 5 drivers for business success, with profit on one end and people on the other. We even had a brief discourse on the correct pronunciation of the word “acumen”. But our afternoon exercises involved a series of 2-minute talks and coaching centered on our personal business acumen.

This year’s training refresher even had time for a birthday celebration for one of our trainers:

dale carnegie yearly training refresher for instructors includes a birthday

We had a few spirited discussions throughout the day. However, two of them stood out for me:

Engaging An Online Audience

For training, the topic came up of how instructors can keep a group engaged when conducting a webinar.

As a Dale Carnegie trainer, we’re always focused on getting engagement as quickly as possible. When a participant arrives early in one of our classroom sessions, it usually means that they are looking for something. They could be looking for help with a talk. Or they could be looking for help in applying the Dale Carnegie principles in a work situation. Or they could be looking for new ideas on getting ahead in their career. When a participant arrives early, we have to stop what we are doing and engage them immediately.

Now consider your typical webinar. When a person signs on early, we usually greet them with music and maybe a few PowerPoint slides. That leaves participants free to check their email or  finish up some other tasks.

As the webinar leader, it’s up to us to engage our participants, not leave them thinking about other errands.

We discussed some options to increase engagement, such as conducting a quick poll or doing some preliminary house cleaning. One technique I’ve seen used by LinkedIn expert Lewis Howes is to ask people what city they are located in. He then has them type their responses into the question box.

You can also use this time to set up any other social media channels. Most of your audience will probably use Twitter as a backchannel. Use this time to establish the hashtag. Then, let people broadcast that they are about to get on the best webinar this year.

The Power Of A PowerPoint Presentation

I recall another spirited discussion surrounding technology, in particular PowerPoint, and if it added or detracted from our events. The argument against PowerPoint was that it represented a potential crutch for the presenter. However, the argument for using PowerPoint was instructors could show they were fluent with the latest technologies.

My impression is that most people don’t know how to use PowerPoint.  They know enough to position it on the screen. They know how to turn it off when not needed. And they have enough sense not to have the image display across their faces. However, every PowerPoint presentation I’ve seen typically contains a series of bullet points with the corporate logo in the background. That’s not a visual aid. That’s the speaker projecting their notes on the screen.

Cliff Atkinson’s book, Beyond Bullet Points, outlines a number of ideas that help presenters move beyond the simple bullet points. Using his ideas, presenters can create slides that display information in a visual format.  And that’s what PowerPoint is all about, giving your audience another channel to consume your information and understand your message.

You don’t use technology for the sake of using technology. As instructors, it’s up to us to use the appropriate technology to support our user’s learning environment.

Remember, you are the message. All of the technology at our disposal simply allows us to get our message to a larger audience faster. Use it wisely!