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A Nightmare on Training Street

It was a dark and stormy Halloween night in Seattle. Which was fine with me. The rain helps me fall asleep.

I fell into a dream immediately.

I was in a room. No windows. Paisley carpet. Pale green walls. Fluorescent lighting that was not at all flattering to my skin tone. I sensed that I’d been here before.

It was a ballroom at the Paramount Hotel downtown.

I looked around again. The walls were suddenly covered in flipchart. Beautiful flipchart. Mr. Sketch-infused drawings brightened up the room.

Suddenly, the doors flung open. The wind and rain from the outside quickly wreaked havoc on the room. My Mr. Sketch artwork began to run. The drawings were ruined. Handouts were scattered across the room. I tried to get up from my seat, and realized I was tied down.

In walked the facilitator. He introduced himself.

“Good evening, everyone. My name is Fred Krueger. You can call me Freddy.”

Seriously subconscious?! This is the best you can do? It’s Halloween night and I’m going to dream about Freddy Krueger shredding me up with his stupid glove? Not very original.

As he walked toward me, he pointed a finger at me and one of his knife-like claws sprang out. “This is for you, Brian…” and he laughed as he poked the “On” button to the LCD projector.

The projector would be warmed up in 7… 6… 5…

I started to worry about what kind of diabolical lesson he’d be teaching us before he made some sinister joke, then killed us all.

4… 3…

His sinister laugh grew louder, scarier.

2… 1…

I braced myself for whatever wicked tricks were going to pop out of the evil PowerPoint. And then…


The smile faded from Freddy’s face. He looked at his laptop. He pressed a few keys. He hit the projector once or twice.

“Try hitting Function F7,” I said. He tried pressing the Fn key, and then he hit the F7 key. Nothing happened. He looked at me. No longer was he the playful, murderous movie villain we’d all grown to know and love. He looked… frustrated.

“You have to hold the Function key and the F7 key at the same time,” I said. He did. And then… oh, it was worse than any nightmare I could have imagined.

Freddy projected a presentation he had prepared with a standard, pre-loaded PowerPoint template. And clip art. And some swirly font nobody could read. The swirly font was totally out of character for this guy… or was it?

His smile returned. He let out a low, spine chilling laugh. And everyone in the audience began to scream in sheer terror as Freddy read, bullet point by bullet point, every word on every single, text heavy slide. The deck was 93 slides long. By slide 28, many of the other attendees had keeled over, killed slowly and cruelly from poor presentation delivery.

By slide 52, I felt myself slipping.

By slide 81, I could feel my heart racing. My blood boiling. My head was about to explode. I had to keep reminding myself: if you die in a dream, you die in real life! Don’t give in, Brian!

I tried turning away from the screen. Freddy put a brace around my neck so I had to stare straight at the screen. As he was getting ready to launch into the final, fatal 37 slide addendum deck, there was a big explosion.

Freddy seemed surprised. A half-dozen people had burst through the wall. As the dust settled, I saw my co-workers had entered my dream somehow.

“Even though you write about us all the time in your blog, we’ve still decided it would be ok to save you!”

I let out an uncomfortable laugh. “What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb, short stuff,” exclaimed the tall co-worker, “we know who you’re talking about when your blog starts off: ‘The other day, a colleague…’”

They had a point. Sorry guys.

But they were here to save me, anyway!

They unplugged the projector (just in time!) and restored the flipcharts around the room. They began to talk to Freddy about the keys to adult learning.

“Nnnooooooooooooooo!” he screamed as if he was being sprinkled with Holy Water.

One co-worker invited Freddy to do a gallery walk around the room, visiting various stations in order to independently explore the elements of effective instructional design.

And then the coup d’ grace, the tall co-worker made Freddy rehearse his delivery. When he received constructive feedback, he suddenly combusted into a ball of flames. His murderous presentation skills would never haunt another dream.

Happy Halloween from the Train Like A Champion blog!

Is Your New Employee Orientation A Nightmare?

Sometimes a New Employee Orientation program is seen as a “necessary evil,” a series of orientation sessions that need to be dumped upon new employees during their first few days on a new job.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Join phase(two)learning’s Michelle Baker and me in a 2-day public workshop where you’ll be able to re-visit, revise and refine your New Employee Orientation program.

Want more information. Send me an email at for more details.

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