Entertainment – the Vital Missing Link with MOST Trainers by Mark Davis

Entertainment – the Vital Missing Link with MOST Trainers

These teenagers sitting in the classroom today are probably the least motivated students I’ve ever had.

No uniform, no respect for education, no desire to be there. There are homeless kids living with their friends, some who didn’t eat breakfast because there is no food in the house. And for others, addictions that are tragically harming their future potential.

So what did I do? Sat on the corner of the table, and told stories about my travelling life, encouraging questions. I wanted these kids to dream, to fantasize about where they could go and to see the world through my own eyes.

And to trust me that not only were they real – but they could go there too one day.

Eiffel tower? Let me tell you how long it took to climb from the south tower. Manhattan New York? Listen to how the sound of ice skates scrape in Central Park.

Cruising down a canal in Amsterdam? Feel the boat chugging along under bridges filled with tourists.

The volcano’s on the Big Island of Hawaii? Feel the black, smooth lava under my fingertips.

Painting a picture, a momentary flight away from the reality of the classroom, let me show them that completing the training, getting a job, working and saving your money – could lead to anything they desired.

And training then went smoothly enough after that for everyone to complete the work. I’m able to conduct training with the raw material, the ‘before’, because I painted the potential future, the ‘after’.

Every audience is different. But if I’m the trainer or the student, I do understand one thing. The trainer has to be clear on who they are, and why they are there. Next they need to have a definite style.

At school, our Geography teacher was highly respected – but not feared – because she was strict, but she also cared about our future. You didn’t mess around in her class, because when you did, she pointed out how foolish it was and how valuable her topic would be in the  future.

Our Math teacher was a lot of fun, told jokes, and swapped stories about Soccer (he was Italian) before we got down to the business of Math. Without him I wouldn’t have chosen it as my final year subject that helped me get into University.

Our English teacher had a passion for sport and for coaching volleyball. I learned as much about leadership and team dynamics from him as I did from his reviews of my heartfelt English essays, which he loved and gave me almost perfect scores.

If I attend a structured training or teaching session, what do I want? As the student, the audience, the person sitting in the seats listening?

Just as there are many different types of trainers – Formal, Casual, Funny, Serious – there is no limit to the categories you can create for yourself when you set yourself to training.

When Trainers start their career, they find it comfortable to settle into a category. Some people like to use jokes, others like to tell a 20 minute dramatic story about themselves. Still others have limited preparation, and they appear disorganized and everything seems to take a lot of time.

The strict ones take you back to the dark ages when you feared the teacher and didn’t dare question anything. Even if the teacher was wrong. Others use examples and tell stories and hardly ever seem to be on track! Worst of all, some are apathetic, they hand over the training workbooks, lie back at their desk and say “do it yourself”.

Whats going to be the best for you? How would you categorize yourself and create a training style or niche?

Well the opening of every training session is definitely the key. And if you don’t think so? Think of how many one-liners have been used to try and “start” conversations in bars by men talking to women. And how many of them don’t work!

Let me share why the opening is important, and then we can move into designing and opening that will give you the maximum impact, and have people remember you!

We’ll start by talking about expectations. What your students want.

When they sit down in any training they have expectations. They may have different goals, but they may  want a lot. Especially if they paid for the training, or it’s essential to them progressing in their area of expertise or for their career.

  • They want value for their time, so it doesn’t feel like they should have been somewhere else.

  • They want value for their money – a “Return on Investment” for the money they have exchanged for your knowledge or your secrets or your inspiration.

  • They definitely want to be educated to learn something new that they didn’t know before. This will give them the strategic advantage over their competition – at work, at home, in the wider

  • They want to be entertained. No-one wants to sit for 30 minutes, one, two or three hours – and be bored.

Let’s  start with entertainment first.

This is always seen by  new trainers as humor and jokes. But it has only a  little to do with that.

People don’t go to watch a “Drama” movie at the cinema for the jokes. But they are there for entertainment.

They go for the chance to leave their world for a moment and enter a new one. To suspend the reality of their lives, and enter a new reality. To see and hear and feel a story.  Titanic  became a record-breaking movie, the first to break $1 Billion in sales, for its drama. And we even knew what was going to happen at the end!

People go and see “Action” movies where people jump out of helicopters and have high-speed car chases – for entertainment. The adrenaline, the rush, the heightened sense of awareness as good battles evil, bullets fly back and forth,  car tires scream and the good guys wins. And it’s popular.  Fast and the Furious is entering it’s on its 7th movie, because we can’t get enough of it. Star Wars  –  6 movies, and now even more coming. The Godfather – 3 movies, Rocky –  6  movies, Harry Potter – 8 movies. Even Shrek – 3 movies. If we like it, we want more of it.

Entertainment is about giving people an experience that moves them.

As a trainer you can make the most of what your students like. You  can choose how to train. There is no one size fits all. You need to match your personality and your topics to a genre and then create sequels. Every time you train you can make a new movie.

Your training can be in a categories like:

  • Action/Adventure

  • Science Fiction/Fantasy

  • Drama

  • Horror

  • Comedy

  • Music

  • Documentary /  Reality TV

In fact think of every movie genre, and there is probably a form of  entertainment that you could adapt to your presentation style.

Documentaries – are the stories we tell about other people. Case studies, examples, ways of getting our point across by using real-life examples.

Drama – is the archetypal before and after shots we see in weight loss advertisements, and also in rags to riches success stories. There is always a lot of drama along the way – sacrifice, emotion, hard work, lucky breaks, and more.

Action and Adventure give us a chance to live through someone else’s eyes doing the things we believe we will never do ourselves. Fly a plane? Race a Formula One car? Save the world?

The movies let us do this. We can be there. We can be the one.  But for most speakers, they only seem to try and work in Comedy!

The hardest one of all. It seems to get the best payoff – but that’s only if you’re funny! And most people aren’t. Consider comedy and humor an  occasional tool, and choose another genre is my suggestion. Use humor in Action. Add jokes to a drama to lighten it. Bring in funny stories while painting a fantasy or simulation. But don’t over-use it. Stick to your day job!

The most important thing is to choose one, then stay focused on that niche. Don’t go outside it, don’t get bored with it. You need to stay in it and build and build. It should match your personality and you will create a persona. Then people will know the type of speaker or trainer or teacher you are. And they  have  confidence when you speak.

As a professional trainer it helps for a promoter or marketer to know they type you are, because that’s how they will sell you to the crowds.


When you are a student you sit in front of a speaker or trainer we believe know more than us. Because we expect to learn. We have a purpose to be there. You as a trainer have to provide something new for people in your audience so they can walk away thinking to themselves, “Something new. Great!” At the very least something they have to consider. A new point of view, a new idea. Because if they aren’t engaged and interacting, they won’t tell anyone how good you were. And most of us are working to the next gig!

In a sales presentation we present a solution to a problem. A deal. Something new.

In a motivational speech, our goal is to get an emotional reaction, a connection that creates a spark inside our audience.

When we present to the board of directors, we are showing that we have achieved things, and have a result that they can reward us for.

And if we stand in front of our children, we want them to continue believing that we know more and we know best.

As a trainer, you have to not only present an idea, but give the student in  front of you every reason to take on that idea and make it their own. So they can implement what you do, maybe even better.

We have to provide something new and interesting in our talk, or it’s going to be seen and felt as a waste of time.

Value for Money

When an audience has paid for your time you have something else to consider. People have high expectations for something they paid for, and so everything they are learning, or being entertained by has a dollar value attached.

Sharing an idea for 30 minutes? That might have been $75 of their time. Did you provide at least $75 value? Or more to the point, what’s their expectation of a return on investment of money. Is it 3:1, 10:1? Are you expected to create a $10,000 value for the $2000 weekend workshop they are attending?

Or have  you set the expectations lower,  only positioning your talk as having   a potential for a 1:1 return on investment, or maybe 2:1.

My experience has been the lower the value expected, the lower the satisfaction level of the audience. Which is why free seminars, free trainings and free workshops usually get the worst reviews, the worst attendance and the worst sales of books and other merchandise.

The cold hard reality is if people are going to spend their money, they expect they can go back to their boss or their wife or their business partner and say how much value they can now create as a result of your talk.

I know that if I am doing a public speaking training, I can easily show the  value as being more than $100,000 – because that’s the minimum I make each year as a public speaker and trainer.

I can show business owners the importance of understanding people’s personalities when you recruit. I can put the value at more than $1 Million a   year. When I hired and trained my staff of 110 that was the revenue generated through a good team of people.

I can also show you that not understanding personalities will cost you in low retention, and high staff turnover, costing much much more than the cost of the training.

I can show you the value of getting your first impression right in online advertising, because I helped a computer software company invest less than $1000 a month in promotions for more than $15,000 a month in sales.

Value for time. The only thing more valuable than money is Time.

When your student sits down to learn, In a coaching session for 1 or a workshop for 1000, the clock starts ticking.

This is why I spend a lot of time in my books talking about ways to grab the audiences attention. To say the right thing. To look the right way. To engage and interact. And to create the connection you need to make your presentation successful.

Time in 5-7 minute chunks. If you have their attention now, it doesn’t guarantee you will in 10 minutes time. You can definitely train yourself to keep your students interested. To continue enrolling your audience throughout your talk. Through interactions both verbal and physical. Asking questions,  and getting them to raise their hands and answer. More about that in future chapters.

If you do that right, they not only walk out of the training feeling like they got value, they more importantly don’t feel like they wasted their time.

No one complains about you finishing early and them catching an earlier train – if you gave good value. No-one wants you to train for so long that they get a headache.

The company that hires you to train wants people to say they enjoy the training – but more importantly that they learn something and can improve some aspect of the business you were there to help with.

So choose your genre, remember to go for all the senses, and you’ll make an impact worthy of a five-star review!

Mark Davis

Mark Davis

Mark Davis is an international speaker, trainer and social entrepreneur whose passion is to inspire people to grow, lead and connect.

Mastery of Communication across the verbal, written and online area has helped him teach and train tens of thousands of people around the world.

Mark’s background and passion lies in speaking and training, helping people to develop and connect with like-minded individuals. During Mark’s speaking and training career, he has:

*Been a feature speaker at Networking *Mastermind Conference
*Developed online strategies for key networking leaders
*Built communities within organisations to facilitate more fluid idea-sharing
*Become an internationally-renowned speaker and traveling life coach
*Conducted public speaking, social media and internet marketing workshops across the USA, UK, Canada, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Romania, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Mark is also passionate about coaching, travelling and making a positive social impact.

Mark has helped Australian communities across the nation gain access to quality training, and fresh food when they need it most through not-for-profit partnerships. He’s used his experience in developing and growing initiatives in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland to launch multiple projects across the world to meet various community needs.

Mark resides in Australia, working on new projects as a social entrepreneur. In addition to his community initiatives, Mark also heads a new social enterprise, Feed More People, which works to provide assistance to communities in need across the globe.
Mark Davis


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