What Would You Do If This Happened In Your Training Session?

The clock struck 1:00pm and it was time for my presentation to begin. That’s when the first of four text messages arrived on my phone. All four messages began with the same two words: “Oh no!” My friends and co-workers had heard what was happening in my breakout room and they began to offer their empathy.

As the A/V staff frantically worked on the facility’s new projector system (which worked just fine for the previous presenter), I tried to remain calm and professional on the outside. On the inside, I was beginning to make a mental map of the adjustments I’d need to make on the fly if the projector wouldn’t work.

Several weeks ago I was asked to deliver a 3-hour breakout session as part of ATD Puget Sound’s annual workplace learning conference. I spent dozens of hours in preparation. Part of the design involved surveying the attendees on a number of fronts and I was excited to finally have a chance to use PollEverywhere in front of a live audience!

As the A/V staff ran through a series of more desperate trouble shooting steps, the pit in my stomach grew stronger and stronger. Why in the world had I painted myself into this corner?! I knew better than to depend on PowerPoint! I’ve lectured co-workers on more than one occasion that if their presentation revolves around PowerPoint, then there’s a major problem with the design of their presentation. Yet I crafted a presentation that leaned heavily on PowerPoint.

I work for an eye bank and when people can do their jobs better, more people can see. That concept sounds nice, but do people really know what it means? I wanted people to feel what this meant by first displaying this slide and asking them to guess what it was:

Corneal Blind 1

It’s just one snapshot of what life is like when you’re corneal blind. If you can receive a cornea transplant, this is what life is like:

Corneal Blind 2

I also wanted to keep everyone involved throughout the presentation (after all, it was a 3-hour, post-lunch workshop!!). I didn’t just want to ask for a show of hands, I wanted to allow everyone in the room to see exact numbers on how their classmates responded to a variety of questions around the use of data to better inform training program design.

I had embedded a series of PollEverywhere slides for questions such as:

Poll 1

Poll 2

Poll 3

Without a projector, I wouldn’t be able to do any of these things.

If you were in my shoes and the clock struck 1:05pm (5 minutes after your presentation was supposed to have begun) and it didn’t seem like the A/V team was going to come to your rescue and you had a group of attendees who were ready either for your presentation to begin or to walk out and find a different breakout room with a different presentation, what would you have done? Write your thinking-fast-on-your-feet thoughts in the comment section below.

On Thursday I’ll reveal what actually happened and we can compare notes!

7 thoughts on “What Would You Do If This Happened In Your Training Session?

  1. for polling I would ask people to stand to vote.
    for vision slide I would see if I could find wax paper or cling foil and ask folks to look through that OR have them close their eyes almost fully, then open them wide- “Opening our eyes to blindness”.

    • Priscilla – I knew I could count on you to problem solve this one (I should have had you on speed dial last Wednesday!).

      The stand and vote probably would have been helpful, especially right after lunch. And the wax paper idea was not something I thought of last week (though it’s something I used when I introduced my work to my daughter’s pre-school class several years ago and it was quite effective with the 5 and under crowd!).

  2. Ah the curse of technology – in an ideal world I try to plan my sessions with the what if’s in there. With some of the sessions I work with engagement can be like pulling teeth and I don’t believe in forced participation as rule so often have a WHAT IF column added to my plans.

    I used to be a manager for the NHS in a previous life with a mental health team so “what if’s” tended to come true fairly often!

    • A “What If” column would definitely have been more proactive than my system (a fleeting thought that: hey, technology might be a problem and boy wouldn’t that be a bummer).

      I like your point – the “What If” goes beyond technology, too.

  3. I was thinking of something similar to Priscilla, Brian (I know…weird). I would have slapped A, B, C, D on paper and put up on the wall and let people vote physically. I would have then had some discussions in these groups to let people deepen the conversation and hear some of the answers. For the blurry image, I was wondering if you could have a URL that you could have people enter into their phones and go to a similar blurry image online and let people guess at what it is. Then go to the non-blurry image, or something like that. Have participants pair up to accommodate those not as comfortable using their smart devices.

    Thanks for the fun topic Brian. Looking forward to seeing what you did.

    • Scott – the idea of flipcharting and voting was definitely flashing through my mind! I had packs and packs of Mr. Sketch Markers on hand, just waiting to be used!

      I really like the idea of a URL that has the two different images… something I’m going to have to keep in mind for the future! I’ve found those two images to be very powerful.

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