An Increasingly Cantankerous L&D Professional Makes His Birthday Wish(es)

Birthday Candles

As I grow older, I’m not sure I’m getting any wiser, but I sure seem to be getting grumpier. While I try not to use this space to vent with an unconstructive, unproductive airing of grievances, today is my birthday so I’m going to indulge in a bit of curmudgeonly pontifications.

With forty candles on my cake this year, I’m assuming that means I get forty wishes as long as I can blow out all the candles in one big breath. Here are 40 things I wish for the future of learning and development: 

I wish that…

  1. …there was a reality television competition for learning and development similar to Top Chef or Project Runway. I’d totally win!
  2. …the projector would work every time I walk up to the front of the room to present. (I’ve had some close calls this year, including this experience in the moments preceding a 3-hour conference presentation this year).
  3. …presenters would stop talking at me. There are so many effective ways to get your content across. And talking at me isn’t one of them.
  4. …presenters would stop reading from the slides. It doesn’t matter if it’s a training session or a staff meeting. I can read your slides (as long as you haven’t used 9-point font). Please use your time to help me make sense of all the bullet points that you’ve listed in your slide deck.
  5. …more communities of practice were successful. Articulate seems to have found lightening in a bottle, but online communities are really tough to get off the ground.
  6. …more LinkedIn groups had more high quality discussion and fewer people trying to promote themselves or their products.
  7. …conference planners would stop accepting proposals for presentations about generational differences. Are there some millennials that are whiny and addicted to texting and walking around with a sense of entitlement? Sure. Of course, the same holds true for some of my fellow Gen X-ers and some Baby Boomers, too.
  8. …people would follow some super-awesome millennials like Melissa Milloway, Rachel Barnum, Kristin Anthony, and Amy Warren (who claims to be somewhere between an X-er and a Millennial) if you want to see some examples of smart millennials with strong work ethics.
  9. …people with “training” in their title took some time to make sure they had a strong foundation in adult learning.
  10. …conference planners spent a little more time ensuring high quality presentations through speaker support and a more rigorous presentation selection process that took instructional design into account.
  11. …conference attendees were a little more ruthless in their post-workshop evaluation scores. If the presentation is boring, it deserves the lowest score possible.
  12. PollEverywhere was used more during keynote and large plenary sessions.
  13. …more medical professionals (and technical presenters in general) took Melissa Marshall up on her offer to help them improve their presentation delivery. As she says: “Science not communicated is science not done.”
  14. …for world peace. It may seem like a cliché sort of “I wish…” statement, but I honestly believe that more effective presentations can change this world for the better.
  15. Mr. Sketch markers hadn’t changed the scent of the yellow marker from lemon to banana. Who likes the banana scent?!
  16. …more keynote speakers tailored their messages to the audience to whom they’re speaking.
  17. …and that I had more concrete take-aways from those keynote speeches.
  18. …that I had more concrete take-aways from conferences that I’ve spent $1,500+ to attend, too.
  19. …that I could meet more people in-person who I currently only know through Twitter or LinkedIn.
  20. …that Articulate Storyline offered a responsive design option.
  21. …I knew about more videos like the conference call in real-life video. It’s such a great way to introduce the topic of setting norms when it comes to conference calls or web-based meetings!
  22. …that people would stop dissing Kirkpatrick’s 4 levels of training evaluation. Back off people! It’s a model. All models are wrong. Some models are useful. This one seems particularly useful.
  23. Level 1 questionnaires asked better questions.
  24. …every slide presentation looked like something put together by Nancy Duarte or Garr Reynolds or Ethos3.
  25. …that in the absence of every presentation looking like Nancy Duarte or Garr Reynolds or Ethos3 designed them, people would at least review this quick primer on PowerPoint.
  26. …there was an easier way to directly connect learning initiatives to business results. Making that direct connection is hard!
  27. …people stopped thinking that just because they know a lot about a given topic that they know how to effectively communicate their ideas.
  28. …people stopped assuming that I’m as excited about their topic as they are. I may be curious, but c’mon, give me a reason to be excited. What’s in it for me?
  29. …it was easier to hook up an Xbox Kinect in the training room to produce presentations with augmented reality and virtual magic.
  30. …or perhaps I just wish I knew how to do more low-tech magic, too. Who wouldn’t like magic in the training room?
  31. …I had time to learn how to code. Rapid authoring tools are great, but it seems like there could be a lot cooler ways to create elearning.
  32. …more presenters used the boomerang technique when fielding questions from their audience.
  33. …L&D professionals were in a pay scale on par with elite professional athletes. I just think it would be pretty cool to have gobs of money. Though I suppose I could do without the concussions.
  34. PollEverywhere was used more during keynote and large plenary sessions. Wait, did I already say this one? Perhaps my memory is going. I am getting old, you know.
  35. …more presenters entered the room with a smoke machine and strobe lights and a Michael Buffer introduction.
  36. …meeting planners (or HR directors for internal training) could go to the bullpen and give a presenter the hook if it looks like he/she just didn’t bring their best stuff today.
  37. …tape and flipchart would stick to all surfaces. It’s such a bummer when certain conference room walls are lined with what is clearly anti-flipchart coating and the flipcharts constantly peel off the wall while the presenter is trying to make some brilliant points.
  38. …webinar designers would engage me more. Although on the bright side, terribly designed/delivered webinars do provide me enough cover for an hour’s worth of uninterrupted catch-up-on-email time.
  39. …there was more protein available in the food options prior to a morning session. Wait. That sounded old. Hmmm. I actually wish there were more chocolate donuts available as food options prior to morning sessions. And while I’m at it, I wish people didn’t cut the donuts in half… it makes me look greedy when I take multiple halves back to my seat.
  40. …every presentation was engaging and would lead to change. (If I ever start my own training business, I think this will be my tagline).

If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me as I indulged in my wish list. What did I miss? If you had one wish when it came to learning and development (yes, just one, because it’s probably not your birthday, so don’t get greedy), what would it be? Your present to me will be to leave your wish in the comment section.

11 thoughts on “An Increasingly Cantankerous L&D Professional Makes His Birthday Wish(es)

  1. Happy birthday! I agree on so many listed above. It’s hard to say but sometimes facilitators don’t understand the importance of evaluating their audience and tailoring presentations to meet their level of need. This would impact the take-away and produce more valuable outcomes for the participants. The point is participants want to learn but not in a passive manner necessarily as they did when they were in primary education. I hope all your 40 wishes come true! Enjoy!

  2. I love your list and have many of the same wishes! But today, mostly just wishes for a Happy Birthday for you! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Happy birthday,Brian! Fantastic list! I also would love to meet a bunch of my LinkedIn connections!

    I loved the deleted scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman asked John Travolta “Do you listen, or wait to talk?” I wished more training and conference participants listened.

    hope all your wishes come true – with or without magic!

  4. Happy birthday Brian! Good to have a fellow curmudgeon. My favorites:
    #7 – Generational Differences
    #31 – I too wish that I could code better
    but the one that maid my snort right here at my desk:
    #37 – What in the heck is on all of the walls in hotels that don’t allow flip charts to stick?!?!?!

    Well done sir. Here is to 40 more years!

    • Thanks Scott!

      Seriously, what’s on the walls?? A few years ago I found these white, plastic sheets that just clung to the walls and you could write on the sheets with white board markers. But it’s not quite the same.

  5. Happy Birthday Brian.. And you will definitely win the reality show, No doubt about that 🙂 May all get the opportunity to get trained by you or at least see the way you design and train.
    Happy Training !!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s