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Are You Trying To Turn Your Learners Into Foie Gras?

In his book Brain Rules, John Medina describes how foie gras is made:

“Using fairly vigorous strokes with a pole, farmers literally stuffed food down the throats of [geese]. When a goose wanted to regurgitate, a brass ring was fastened around its throat, trapping the food inside the digestive track. Jammed over and over again, such nutrient oversupply eventually created a stuffed liver, pleasing to chefs around the world.  Of course, it did nothing for the nourishment of the geese, who were sacrificed in the name of expediency.”

I doubt anyone wakes up on the morning of their presentation, looks at themselves in the mirror, and thinks to themselves: “I want to jam as much nutrient-rich information as I can down the throats of my audience today, and when they seem like they’re going to regurgitate, I’m going to jam more information down their throats.”  But it’s often what we end up doing as presenters.

And the less time we have to present, it seems the more intent we are to jam even more information down our learners’ poor throats.  We know we only have one shot to make an impression, and we know our topic is the most important thing in the world.

The problem with jamming lots of information into a presentation is that it simply makes our learners want to vomit.  So what’s the trick?  How do we make an impression without making our audience want to vomit?

The following video is the best presentation I’ve seen on the topic (thank you to Alex Rister for pointing it out in an earlier blog post) – if you have 15 minutes and/or if you’re interested in learning more about how to make your point without overwhelming (or boring) your audience, you must check it out.

New York City has outlawed foie gras.  As trainers or learning and development professionals or simply as people who are asked to put together a presentation, it’s probably about time we stop trying to turn our learners into foie gras.

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

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