Bringing your message alive with personal experience
I’m in Bangalore at the moment with a hundred or so new graduate joiners to the firm. Over the course of five weeks we teach them the key skills they’ll need to be successful programmers and business analysts on projects in future. It’s a great course, and exposes everyone to disciplines they normally wouldn’t see for a few years, or indeed at all.
With all of this instruction, over such a long period, there comes a challenge with keeping people engaged and the content relevant. Presenting the materials alone is not enough, and I’ve had to bite the bullet and accept that bringing real life, sometimes uncomfortable, experience to the group is the most effective way to make a message come alive.
As you’d expect, there’s a module around prioritising work, time management, and stress. The presentation and materials to go with this module are as you’d expect. They’re a by-the-book explanation of best practice, and not particularly engaging. To bring the concepts to reality for the group I shared an experience where someone on a team I was managing had to take a significant amount of time off sick, and this was a result of the way I was managing him and failing to see the warning signs that it was all too much. I had to stop myself during the presentation to compose myself.
The feedback from participants is that this, and other sessions like it, were the best they’d had. An experience humbly shared, and a lesson learned, carries far more impact than one delivered verbatim from a deck.
Now, we won’t have emotive and captivating stories to go with every eventuality. I’m not suggesting that littering training and presentations with a cornucopia of personal and revealing anecdotes is the way forward. I do believe, however, that taking the time to understand whether there could be some element of your experience worth sharing is enough. Those around you will identify with what you are saying more easily, internalise it more readily, and benefit from the shared learning instead of falling into similar traps in future.
Just my two cents.
October 12, 2013 // Observations, Shared Wisdom //
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