Table of Contents

“Mr. Lecturer, tear down this wall!”

The Berlin Wall didn't come tumbling down just because people wanted it to come down. L&D professionals eager to get people to change their lecture-heavy style would be wise to keep this lesson in mind.

Berlin Wall

When Communism ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall (yes, I know that the Soviet Union didn’t break up until 1991 and technically China still considers itself “Communist”, but really, everything seemed to end when the Wall fell), it seemed like the last great struggle left in the world was going to be the battle against bad, boring, wasteful learning experiences.

Of course, the Berlin Wall didn’t just come tumbling down one fall day in 1989. People may have wanted it to just go away, but it was a long process that included a series of events – some big, some small, and some so subtle they barely registered.

In our struggle against bad, boring, wasteful learning experiences, we’d do well to keep this in mind. Decision-makers and training clients aren’t going to just wake up tomorrow and decide that they’re going to scrap the way things have always been done if we haven’t done a very good job laying the foundation for the change we want.

A participant from one of my recent workshops dropped me a line last week to ask for a Jeopardy-style PowerPoint template I had demonstrated during the session. I asked if she’d been able to try out any of the strategies I’d talked about when she returned to her office. She wrote: “Sadly not yet.  There’s been some resistance to training not in lecture format but I think that’s about to change (or at least keeping my fingers crossed).”

Here are three strategies I’ve found to be helpful in getting people to convert from the comfort of a lecture-style format to something more participant-centric:

  1. Find a champion. About two years ago I wrote a post called “93% of Learners are Just Saying No to L&D” which cited a study that said only 7% of learners felt the L&D department had much influence over them. The best way I’ve found to gain momentum in having people within an organization try out a new way to present information is by finding an influential person outside of L&D/HR who is intrigued by the idea of higher engagement and better outcomes for learners. Of course L&D and HR people will say: “You should do it this way,” but when someone’s supervisor or a trusted colleague says it, there’s a 3285467034% higher liklihood that a new way of doing things will be adopted.
  2. Show them what’s possible (Part 1). As trite as it may sound, sometimes people need to see something in order to believe it. You can talk about an idea until you’re blue in the face, but showing how well something can work is a whole different way to argue a point. One of the sessions that my colleagues cite most often in changing their way of thinking about presentations is my full-day presentation skills session that doesn’t use a single PowerPoint slide at any point during the day… yet people still learn a ton!
  3. Show them what’s possible (Part 2). Earlier, I referred to an email exchange I had with someone who attended a session recently, and how she hadn’t yet been able to move the needle in her organization. She went on to write: ” I have some great ideas of how to incorporate Kahoot.” Using technology like Kahoot or PollEverywhere in a session, dazzling your audience by asking them to respond to questions using their smartphone (Kahoot is more like a quiz-style game, PollEverywhere is more like a real-time polling application) is such a simple, non-threatening way to engage your audience and pique their curiosity. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me following a session to ask for the URL to Kahoot or PollEverywhere because they want to use it in their next session. I can also share a few stories about presenters following my sessions by saying something like: “I’m sorry that my session won’t include fancy polling technology like that previous presenter, but hopefully you’ll like my session, too.”

When it comes to changing how people present, slow and steady – though frustrating at times – is really the name of the game.

What are some of the strategies you’ve found successful in moving people toward more participant-centered approaches to presentations?

Articles Similar to “Mr. Lecturer, tear down this wall!”

facilitator competency rubric
Brian Washburn

Training Delivery and Facilitation Competency Rubric

A rubric is a way to assess performance with a standard set of evaluation criteria. The next time you need to assess the performance of someone delivering training (even if that someone is you), you may find this rubric helpful.

Brian Washburn

Is this the world’s most effective role play?

When it comes to your training participants, two of the dirtiest, or perhaps scariest, words you can say during a session may be: role play. In today’s podcast, John Crook, Head of Learning at Intersol Global, offers some thoughts on how to make role plays more authentic and robust.

airline flying through a sky with palm trees
Job Aids
Brian Washburn

3 Job Aid Design Lessons from a Beach in Hawaii

An effective job aid might be able to replace the need for actually training someone. At the very least, it can be distributed as part of a training to help people remember a rule or how to do something new. Drawing inspiration from “job aids” we see every day when we walk around can make our job designing effective job aids easier.

How to create a training plan in under 10 minutes

Using a lesson plan template (which is the most downloaded resource from this blog) can help give you structure. Using Soapbox can save you all sorts of time (and still give your presentation some structure)!

Subscribe to Get Updates from Endurance Learning

Brian Washburn, Author

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll send you the latest updates from our blog. Thanks for following!

activities cookbook

Download the Training Activity Cookbook

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the Endurance Learning Activity Cookbook.

Download the What's Possible in L&D Worksheet

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the What’s Possible in L&D Worksheet.

What's possible in L&D

Let's Talk Training!

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll get back to you soon.

Download the Feedback Lesson Plan

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the lesson plan as a PDF.

feedback lesson plan
MS Word Job Aid Template

Download the Microsoft Word Job Aid Template

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the Word version of this template.

Download the Free Lesson Plan Template!

Enter your email below and we’ll send you a Word document that you can start using today!

free lesson plan template
training materials checklist

Download the Training Materials Checklist

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the Training Materials Checklist.

Subscribe to Endurance Learning for updates

Get regular updates from the Endurance Learning team.