My favorite professional development experience, ever, was…

Antioch - Listening with Humor

Good professional development moments make us smile. Or make us smack our heads and say “ah-ha!” The best ones inspire us to do something new or differently or better.

When we’re delivering training, the best moments might come when we see the light come on in someone’s brain, when someone smacks their own head and says “ah-ha!” Or maybe the best moment comes two weeks later when you walk by someone who was in your training session and you see them using the skills you trained them on.

Back in January, I shared a handful of my favorite training experiences.

Today, I’m traveling in and around the DC-area in order to deliver several presentations, so I’d like to ask a favor and get some help with today’s blog post.

It’s time to make this blog a truly social experience.

If you have two minutes (maybe you’re reading this on your bus ride in to work, or perhaps you’re reading this during some boring meeting that got stuck on your calendar), go to the comment section and do one or both of the following:

  1. Write about your favorite training experience.
  2. Respond to someone else’s comment (assuming anyone writes a comment) if it resonates with you.

You can write it in 10 words. You can write it in 10 sentences. Be as pithy or wordy as you’d like.

If you know someone else who you think has a good moment to share, pass this post along via email or Twitter or LinkedIn. The more comments, the merrier!

I promise to be back on Thursday with more insights and ideas and maybe even a tip or two for you to use. For today, however, why not learn from one another?


If you’re not following these 18 people in order to help hone your L&D trade craft, you should.

Last week I had coffee with a learning executive from another organization. We’d exchanged a few messages via social media (which is how we originally met), but this was the first time we were having a face-to-face conversation.

As our conversation unfolded, I kept asking him: “Do you know so and so?” or “Have you read so and so’s work on that topic?” He hadn’t heard of any of the people I was mentioning. It dawned on me that sometimes I assume everyone I interact with is familiar with everyone else I have personally found instrumental along my path to developing my professional skill set.

It’s an erroneous assumption.

Until now.

You, dear reader, have an opportunity to learn from the following 18 people who I’ve found have a lot to offer when it has come to sharpening my own L&D tool set. If you’re not following these people, you should be. Continue reading

I really liked this picture… until I stopped to think about it.

I found this image on Twitter last week and I immediately grabbed it and posted it on my LinkedIn page with this caption: “I see a lot of this (both looking around AND when I stop to look in the mirror). Chronic ‘I’m too busy…’ syndrome is not a good thing.”

Too Busy

Then I started to think about it some more. Yes, it represents the daily struggle that L&D professionals face every day, whereby lots of people we work with claim that they’re too busy to take time out to improve their skill set.

At the same time, it represents a Cardinal sin that we L&D professionals make all too often. Continue reading

How to engage your audience even before your next presentation begins

Last week I had an opportunity to accompany my daughter on a field trip to listen to a National Geographic photographer speak about the rainforest.

As we settled into our seats, I could hear students all over the auditorium shouting seemingly random letters.

At first it was: “A! A! A!”

And then “C! No, B! It’s B! B! B!”


Students jumped out of their seats shouting answers as trivia questions flashed across the screen in the auditorium.



Then I looked at the huge screen hovering above the stage and realized they were shouting out answers to trivia questions. There was a buzz in the air even before the speaker took the stage. I loved it. And I immediately began thinking of ways that trainers and presenters could imitate this idea.  Continue reading

The Saga of Inky the Octopus is a Cautionary Tale for Anyone Leading a Training Session


Last week it was reported that Inky the Octopus crawled out of his tank at a New Zealand aquarium, suction cupped his way across the floor, squeezed through a 6-inch drain in the floor and, like Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption, wriggled 164 feet through a pipe on his way to freedom.

He was being held captive against his will. He wanted out. By any means necessary.

I get the feeling that a lot of people who are sent to mandatory compliance training or IT system training or a number of other workshops and conference sessions feel much the same way.

Here are five ideas you might want to consider in order to keep your audience engaged and to prevent them from ditching your training session. Keep in mind that even if someone doesn’t walk out of your session, they can still mentally check out.  Continue reading

Want to improve your organization’s training? Some people may be suspicious of your intent.


Readers of the Train Like a Champion blog will not be surprised that I am smitten with Will Thalheimer’s new book, Performance-focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Re-thinking of a Dangerous Art Form.

You can read a review of why every training professional should read this book here, and you can see several examples of how I integrated concepts from the book by having my own post-training evaluation forms undergo an extreme makeover here.

It just makes sense. Better post-evaluation questions lead to better analysis of the value of a training program, right? So it was with some surprise that I was pulled aside recently and asked to explain myself for all the changes I’d made to our evaluation forms. Continue reading

What can L&D professionals learn from a museum?


A few weeks ago, a colleague dropped by my desk and shared with me that he was going to be part of a speed dating event.

“That’s nice,” I said somewhat uncomfortably. I liked this colleague, but we weren’t really so close that we shared a lot about our outside-work lives. It wasn’t any of my business whether he met people through speed dating or by swiping right on some app on his iPhone.

“It’s a training event. We’re just calling it ‘speed dating’ because we’re going to have stations and people will have about 8 minutes at each station to listen to information on a variety of topics.”

This was a much more comfortable topic for me. He was wondering how he’d be able to share information and hold everyone’s attention while a lot of other activities and noise would be filling the room.

I had an idea.  Continue reading