Monday, 21 September 2009

The Perfection Trap

How many of us are waiting - until we are ready? until we know it all? until, until.... It doesn't matter what you are waiting for, the time is never right....

You'll never find (read "just happen upon") the perfect moment to ditch your annoying boy/girl friend.
You'll never be totally ready to have children/ leave your job/ quit your job/ start a business.

Waiting for the perfect time is a way to save ourselves from venturing into the unknown (read "scary place"). A way to stay in our comfort zone (read "safe but boring").

But life marches on. I mean honestly - do you really want to get to the end of your life and have carved on your tomb "Here lies XXX. She/ He was waiting to be great".

Here's something to think about... every great presenter, once wasn't.

I know the lure of waiting. Of spending more time researching. Of studying for more qualifications. Of going to more workshops on designing workshops. Of being stuck and not feeling ready.

But ultimately, the fastest and best way to being a great presenter is to start. Now. Start even if you are imperfect. Learn. Develop. Gain experience. Get great.

So what are you waiting for?
Go out there and talk to people, share what you know.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Learners' Charter: Learn by Doing and Making

One of the other requests on the Charter for Learning was that "We want to learn by doing and making".

A quotation that I have used many times when talking about training and learning is this: you didn't learn to ride a bicycle by reading a book.

The same can be said for working a computer, writing a letter, cooking a meal, asking a girl out... you name it.

Our lives, our lifestyles, our jobs, our hobbies are mainly skills-based. Whatever job or business you are in, you will need some knowledge to do that job well. But nearly always, that knowledge and data is translated into actions before it has real impact. It is turning concepts and ideas into action that really counts.

As a trainer, for instance, you might learn about the different learning styles, but that knowledge is useful to help you design experiences that satisfy those different styles.

Is it more useful for me to tell you the step-by-step process of designing a presentation, or to ask you to use the process to design one of your own?

In many cases, learning becomes knowledge and experience, only once you put it into practice, try it out, reflect on what worked and start to create new pathways in your brain.

How many times do you tell people what to do, when instead you could either show them, or get someone to do it straight away?

So go on..... help people learn by doing and making!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Learner's Charter: Real Things That Matter to Us

Have you ever wondered what people would say if you asked them what sort of learning experiences they would like?

What would you say, if you were asked? What experiences have you had where you were inspired, motivated, energised, curious about a topic?

Well last year 170 young people from diverse schools and backgrounds were asked and the simplicity and authenticity of their answers is illuminating and inspiring.

One of their requests was "to learn real things, that matter to us."
Note - no desire to learn for simply the sake of it, nor to learn abstract ideas or concepts, nor things that matter to other people.

Research into learning in adults echoes these results - that relevance is one of the most important aspects of learning.

However many times you have communicated about your area of expertise, the one thing that changes every single time is your learners. And when your learners change, so does what matters to them.

How do you find out what matters to them?
The simplest way of all is to simply ask them: "why do you want to learn how to do X?"

This is not about showing your ignorance, it is about listening to them. About involving them in their learning. About making sure you give them what they need: real things that matter to them.

So before you teach them anything, ask them.

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