What is the Topic and Who are You Training in it? By Mark Davis

What is the Topic and Who are You Training in it?

 What are you going to train? And to who?


Sitting in the Dianella hotel in Perth I have about 60 people sitting waiting for me to talk. I have set up the topic of Vision and am gathering material to speak from over 10 different books, live seminars, and my own research and experience.

I know the audience want to be encouraged and inspired to set goals and create a better life. To be motivated and learn in one night the secrets to having the lifestyle of their dreams.

I have the talk laid out. I know the people. I’m confident. It goes  great.

Another day I head to Campbelltown, 60km west of Sydney. It’s a Saturday morning and a small room of about 30 people come to listen. I’m going to talk about the power of goal-setting and the effect of your goals on your action and your results. The principle of Precession I have studied for 7 years and will share it too. And finally I will share the 300% shift goalsetting strategy for amazing results.

The entire room is smiling when I start. They  know me, I know them, and  they are clear on the topic and eager to learn. The best type of audience any trainer could want.

Just the way I designed it.

30 school teachers have come to visit my training warehouse. I know they want to hear about how kids are changing their lives through part-time jobs with real-world training. I share with them the backgrounds of these disadvantaged high schoolers. How some of them are the only ones in their entire family with a job, putting their income into the family to help support everyone.

We train them in life skills, how to work with others, and why  they need to be a reliable employee. One of the young people gets up to share their story and describe how accepting we are, and how they feel like they are part of the “family” when they come to work.

One of the teachers says it’s amazing, wants me to come to Cairns over 2000km away to start the same program. Another teacher asks if I’ll run for  Prime Minister.

I know what I’m going to talk about, and I know who my audience is. That makes it easy to customize and personalize the material to fit. I can create emotional reactions based on what motivates the audience and leave out the parts that are irrelevant to them.

The same talk can be given to a different audience – other high school kids wanting a job – and by knowing their #1 goal is to get a job and make money, I’d focus on the regular paycheck that is being given to those kids who are reliable.

Customize, and personalize. Know who you are speaking to, then what you have to say is easy.

There are an endless number of training sessions you could  deliver.

Some will be in workplaces with small business owners. Others, in a big company, in front of executives. Still others out on the beach with lifeguards or on a building site with apprentices.

Matching your training to your audience is one thing. But let’s assume you know who your audience is. This  is vital, and equally  important.

You have to decide very early on what level or grade of the information you are going to train based on the audience you are speaking to.

Will it be beginner, medium or  advanced?

Will you be challenging them to learn something new like a newly released product or service, or providing a refresher – like first aid.

Will you have thousands of pages of instructions and notes for them to study?

Or are you just giving the ‘teaser’ and they do the rest themselves?

Do you have to fight against their existing beliefs and values? Will you be confronting them or doing more of the same they are used to being taught. Is there a proven system you have already created that this new information can be delivered through?

Will you be having to entertain your students in a long 8 hour session? Or is there a set tone you must follow – serious, methodical, structured, regardless of the time? Do you have presentation aids and handouts?

Will there be other speakers or are you training the entire time?

Every one of these questions leads to different amounts of time that your talk will take, and higher or lower levels of preparation you need to  do.

And why you need to know who you are speaking to, so you can match your presentation. Customize your training.

And who is in your room?

In a past article on literacy we reviewed that not only do you have to consider how your message is being constructed for delivery, but your language has to be at a level so everyone can understand it.

The level of complexity I believe should stay the same regardless of your audience, however there are exceptions in a few key areas.

If you’re training a group of accountants in the latest cloud-based software, you don’t have to avoid the jargon of their industry. They will in fact build a stronger rapport with you if you maintain an equivalent level of language similarity – speak the words they know.

Talk about invoice creation, reconciliation of expenses, profit & loss reporting, auditing, and compliance. Remember that numbers and the language of money isn’t a topic for a lot of humor, but that a funny story about a person who doesn’t understand accounting as well as a CPA might have them rolling on the floor as they agree with you.

Who is in your room – how old are they, how experienced. What’s the mix of men and women.

When I speak to long term unemployed people, I am always surprised because they usually look older than they actually are. Because of the stress of not working, of low income, of struggle and of challenge, their hard life takes a toll. This age brings with it a different level of experience than say an 18 year old who has never had a job before.

Training them both in goal-setting is going to be a very unique situation. Because for one person their goals are fresh and new and everything is possible. And for another they see that nothing they wanted in life has come to be a reality. So it can be challenging. You need to know these things before you talk, because you don’t want to offend anyone, and you do want them to enjoy your training and get the value from it.

Men and Women

The mix of men and women in your audience is also a factor. It’s been said that men compete and women comply. I don’t agree. Between both of the sexes there are overlaps of personality types, those that like conflict and those that don’t. Those that will volunteer, and those that won’t. And some who will absorb everything like a sponge, while others get sidetracked by the smallest distraction.

Whether your audience is male or female, your training has to deal with a lot of factors that will help or hinder you getting your training  successfully  delivered.

Being in control is going to be vital. If no-one is paying attention, your lifesaving training will be worthless 3 months later when they just don’t remember it, or they haven’t practiced properly to gain mastery.

If you have students that are distracting the others by fooling around or trying to be the center of attention, you need to get in control of the room to show who is in charge. We covered some of that in the Respect article.

Remember, every audience reverts to being at school, and so you need to remind them if that’s the way it is – you are in charge. And they need to not only take you seriously, but if you are doing any sort of training that has a test, quiz or exam – you hold their future in your hands.

Different countries

If you train in a country like Singapore, let me tell you what those students  are like. When I arrive to give a session, perhaps one hour earlier than the start time to check the training room is set up properly, at least half the students are already there. The front rows have been reserved, and their notebooks, laptops, tablets, drinks and bags are neatly arranged to confirm they are there and ready.

They take their learning seriously, and it’s no wonder the standard of education, and the high incomes are often linked to the country’s professional approach to education and lifelong  learning.

Every student in Singapore wants to learn, so they can get ahead. There is no concept of fooling around, and if you set a task – they do it. If you create a project, they research it and complete it on time.

For some trainers and teachers, this is the perfect market.

But the downside is the compliant nature is often masking the fact they don’t really want to do the training, as it has been forced upon them. Their career may depend on it but it’s not by  choice.

The best training I have had results with in Singapore is with Direct Sales and Network Marketing. Where the training is to help them develop skills and attitudes that will help them communicate better with other people to help build their income in their own business.

In the United States, the audiences I find to be the most engaging. Unlike the Singaporeans, they are not as ‘on-time’ and bolting to sit in the front row. They are however the most interactive people on earth, because their desire to be entrepreneurial and to create their own success is their core motivation. Their  job or career may be a means to an end, but people there love starting and growing businesses, build a customer base and their independence is such a strong value they love to learn whatever they can to accelerate that becoming a reality.

In the USA wherever you go success and achievement are natural occurrences. Entire cities become defined by the industries that grew them – Oil in Houston, Vacations in Miami, Coffee and Airplanes in Seattle, Technology in San  Jose’s  Silicon Valley.

Proof that when you have an idea and learn how to turn it into reality makes training  simple.  And  it’s  probably  why  the  most  public  speakers  and trainers come from here.

Eastern European audiences are exciting to train. I spent about 5 years training in Hungary and Romania and was able to be actively involved in the internet becoming a mainstream tool for business, communication, and social media.

The best thing about training there was if you did an internet training, more than half the students showed up with a laptop or tablet to apply what you taught as you taught it!

The desire to propel themselves into the modern technological age defined by the internet — Youtube, Facebook, Online Advertising and Networking — meant they would do whatever you suggested and learn it faster through trial and error than anyone anywhere else on the planet.

So these three examples show different audiences may collectively behave the same.

Personality types and Learning Styles

Within those groups however, you will have different people behaving different ways, interacting or not, and completing work or not.

It’s because even though you might train a room of lifeguards – they all have different personalities. Some like to lead, others to follow. Some speak up, and others are quiet.

Every person has a unique set of characteristics that affect not only how they learn, but also how they relate to one another.

The better you understand people, the more success you’ll have when you work with them.

Mark Davis

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