Last week, for the second time, I ran my new course - Communication for the 21st century - and thought I'd share some of the things I took away from the session. Some are pretty obvious, others less so.
But what I learned mostly is that it's often the little things that make a difference
1. People have different perspectives - It's easy to forget that when learning (in fact, when doing most things), people start in different places. As a result, their perspectives are different. Of course, in a learning environment, this is a good thing as it brings different thinking and ideas to bear.
2. People don't necessarily want rocket science - As a subject matter expert it's easy to assume that people on a training course want leading edge insights and ideas. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth - what I learned last week is that people simply want to master the basics and do them really well.
3. Talking is good, conversation is better - As the person 'at the front', it's easy to think that you need to do all the work. What I've learned over the years is that you don't. The quality and volume of discussion on last week's course was testament to the fact that people can also learn a lot from each other's experiences. Yes, the person at the front has to set direction and ensure there are plenty of opportunities to explore the content, but they also need to be prepared to stand back, shut up, and just let the conversation happen! The stories that come up can really help to reinforce the learning.
4. Clarity is key - I've been working in communications for 20 years so, for me, much of what I teach is second nature. However, for others that’s not the case. So being able to convey an idea really clearly - to make it easy to understand - is key. You can have all the PHDs in the world but if you can’t communicate clearly, you’re on a hiding to nothing, limited in how much knowledge you can actually transfer.
5. Time out is a good investment - At the start of the session I respectfully asked everyone to put phones and laptops away and focus on being present in the room. They’d invested a day of their time and their companies had invested some hard-won budget. So it was important for them to use the time to THEIR benefit and not be thinking about what’s going on back in the office.
All of these insights, and those I get from every course or seminar I run, help to make the next one even better.
My belief is that if you aren’t learning you aren’t living. And it’s easy to think that the only place we learn is in a classroom or on a training course. But just stop to look around you - there are opportunities to learn all around us every day - it’s just a matter of being aware of them.
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