Thought for the Day
Value is not what you get,
Value is what you give
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Team Mercuri India
How can the Sales Training Professionals of today design learning experiences that engage and inspire sustainable excellence in their audience?
MiQuest is a Mercuri India initiative that shares actionable insights, which Sales Trainers can readily use in creating learning experiences that stick. Rooted in the impactful 4MAT Methodology, these techniques are sure to enhance learning experiences towards transformational outcomes.
To learn more about the 4MAT Methodology and how it can help you design training programs that engage audience and inspire learning, leave your co-ordinates here, and a Mercuri India Consultant will get back to you to understand your needs better.
At Mercuri India, Malathy Sethuram leads Quality Assurance & Operations. Authored by Malathy, the MiQuest blog appears on LinkedIn. Follow Malathy here.
There is Divine Beauty in Learning
More on the science of attention…
Gaining the attention, in a class room filled with Tech-Happy Learners is no mean challenge.
Technology had done a great deal of good in education and training , however the flip side is technology drains our minds.
We want faster, easier solutions for underestimated skills like selling , negotiating , managing sales performance to name a few.
The trainer therefore has to adapt better to the way Learners Learn
I have already shared the value of metaphors and story telling as powerful training tools
Another critical aspect is knowing how to blend relevance with engagement using an array of training techniques
Demonstration of a skill that is most useful in the participant’s practical situation, is an activity-based method has always won a “buy-in”
Here the trainer needs the expertise in two areas- the learner’s exact situation and challenge and the skill to project the practical application in the most insightful manner.
The trainer needs “to show” and not “show off”. Demonstration should carry an invisible process for the learner to discover. It should also appear “doable” now and later.
Effective demonstrations need to be sprinkled with fun and surprise elements to hook the learners’ heart and mind (Yes Heart First!)
What things look, sound, feel and taste like when incorporated into the business of role modelling through demonstrations make for a sensory experience that has both a logical and emotional persuasion.
Should we ask for responses to the demonstration in the form of a picture or a slogan or a poem or…. The possibilities are magical!!
Research says that the human mind cannot handle too much of abstraction.
Get your ideas and concepts down to earth with sensory details- require great effort . Yet so rewarding for both the trainer and the learner
“To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me and I walk in their footsteps” - Elie Wiesel
The Science of Earning Attention
Metaphors engage the learner’s mind in a sharp and sustained way. Much like the Spring Showers- refreshing drops that the heart associates with a streak of delight.
When timeless concepts are treated with unique and innovative threads, the fabric of learning unfolds with joy and wonder.
Metaphors are imaginative expressions that do not directly relate to what is being presented.
Well thought out metaphors can be a powerful influence for change.
They help visualise the learning and capture the spirit of what is being taught.
Very often metaphors are used by the trainer to help the learners figure out things for themselves
The Leaner’s own experience and conceptual understanding becomes the anchor of his understanding. Both these factors- one direct experience and the other indirect experience(of the mind ,so to speak) enable the learner to relate to metaphors and absorb the essence of what is being shared/taught.
Metaphors make for great reflective learning. The words in the metaphor paint a picture for you and the texture remains frozen in time( there, that was a metaphor!)
Metaphors can lighten a serious subject, make you cope with a complex formula and gently lead you towards a flash of understanding
The journey of learning becomes a blend of intensity and lightness when metaphors guide you to unravel a new thought or concept or reinforce what you already knew , but now it is “different” somehow
Research says-“ when new information is paired with an image, retention skyrockets to an impressive 60 %.”
So what are your favourite metaphors?
Here is mine!
“Laugh a drink from the deep blue cup of sky.”
Happy Training !!
Earning the attention of a Learner and holding it, is a Science
Research suggests that very short breaks in attention are more common than longer breaks.There is a pattern in attention lapses where the first spike is just 30 seconds into the lecture segment, reflecting the settling-in period, the next spike occurs .5 to 5.5 minutes into the lecture, the next at 7-9 minutes and the next at 9-10 minutes. This waxing and waning pattern continues throughout the lecture with attention lapses occurring more frequently as the lecture progresses .By the end of the lecture, lapses occur about every 2 minutes.
The researchers found three interesting things. First, that the most frequently reported length of attention lapse was 1 minute or less, suggesting that very short breaks in attention are more common than longer breaks. Second, that the lapses occurred more frequently than the prevailing theory suggests. If the 10-15 minute theory were true, the researchers would have seen a pattern of reported lapses every 10 minutes or so, but this didn’t happen.Instead, across all three courses, they observed a pattern in which the first “spike” in reported attention lapses occurred just 30 seconds into a lecture segment, reflecting the “settling-in” period; the next spike occurred at 4.5 to 5.5 minutes into the lecture; the next at 7 to 9 minutes; and the next at 9 to 10 minutes in.“This waxing-and-waning pattern continued throughout the lecture, with attention lapses occurring more frequently as the lecture progressed,” the researchers reported. “By the end of the lecture, lapses occurred about every two minutes.”
Perhaps, when we use the term”distracted” learner, we are being judgmental. Rather teachers and trainers need to adapt to better accommodate the way the learner learns and plan the sessions, keeping the attention patterns in mind, lectures and training need to intersperse the lecture with active learning methodologies.Today more than ever before, we have myriad tools to provoke and sustain active learning.Here is one of them.. the most neglected and underestimated tool in the trainer’s kit
Motivate the learner at the very beginning of each segment. Address the question” why is it important for me to know this?”
Make them thirsty by anchoring concepts in real life scenarios and drawing upon their own experiences
“One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of attention”
As Teachers and Trainers, we need to be worthy of this gift
More of this in my next….
The Eloquence of Editing in Training
Have you ever wondered why some movies, some books, some TV serials, some dance performances ,some musical shows remain etched in your memory?
They bring a smile to your lips, a tear in your eye, a loud chuckle or even a spring in your step? Can we call it- warms the cockles of your heart?
In our less happy moments, the mind’s eye oftens opens up to the memorable experience of any art form .
A surge of satisfaction courses through us and we sit back and enjoy moments of reflective bliss. Any craft is a blend of content and packaging, the crux being, how both are stitched together.
Too long is boring, too short has no impact
A rich content when presented well is harmonious and does not have an ounce of excess
Editing is key to producing a work of art, art which is timeless and appears effortless
Training is a science and when perfected becomes an art
For perfection in training, editing is a must. It balances logic and emotion, keeps the central theme intact in the midst of myriad facilitation techniques. It ensures momentum, rhythm, pace and takes the learner along in seamless steps towards the destination.
As a trainer, to find out if editing is your forte
Ask yourself these questions
Are you learner-centric?
Are you too ambitious?
Are you too structured?
Are you too emotional?
Are you focusing on your own area of comfort?
“ As for my style and my vision of the cinema, editing is not simply one aspect, it is the aspect”- Orson Welles
The Art of Storytelling
From time immemorial stories and anecdotes have been an integral part of our being. Stories grab our attention, stimulate a desire to know more and leave us with the satisfaction of the denouement where the strands are finally stitched together and the plot is unravelled or the message is explained or there is a resolution to something
There is a child in each one of us and stories told by our parents and grandparents, in particular, remain embedded in our minds and hearts. Not just the stories, but the milieu and the people around the stories evoke fond memories and we rest a while in nostalgic bliss before the current reality hits us. Stories refresh and help us remember because we think and feel in metaphors and images, it is in our DNA. They can lighten a serious subject, build a bridge of camaraderie and sharing . Stories make us laugh, make us smile, make us cry… help us handle difficult situations with renewed hope and courage. Stories are delightful nuggets that engage and provoke. They can sometimes have life-changing effects. They are certain, concrete and yet mysterious and that is why we never tire of listening to the effective storyteller.
Storytelling in training is a valuable skill. To develop and master this skill we need to do the following:
Continuously build a treasure chest of stories relevant to our work.
Keep the stories crisp and precise while presenting them to the audience
Use direct speech to reflect characters in the story
Variation in voice , tone and speed are to be artfully deployed
Emote and be as light as a feather! Stay away from theatrics!
Enjoy the storytelling, but don’t get carried away, lest you become boring!
Balance is key- just enough to make an impact and convey a message
The story must be relevant to the learning, if not, it is best to skip it
Saturday Night Fever!
Many trainings done and many more to come……
Like John Travolta in the iconic movie-Saturday Night Fever, the “involved” trainer weaves a web of magic in the training hall
Every time, all the time
It is the same and somehow NOT the same for the “involved” trainer
Freshness in the treatment of the timeless knowhow blocks
Engaging examples, valuable insights,a sprinkle of relevant humour, inspiring stories… bring learners to life .
The AHA Moment is when the learner takes responsibility for her learning and the trainer’s hand is invisible
A wholesome training session requires the trainer to be competent, yet humble, to make learning unique and personal for each learner(it is possible)
Frissons of excitement , the sheer joy of being able to learn and do, can only be facilitated by an “involved” trainer who has chosen his path for fulfilment and happiness
“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn”
The 'Heart'of the Matter
One of the admirable qualities in teachers we remember for life is-kindness
In their classes, we could be what we really were.To cultivate the quality of kindness- trainers need to “think” kindness
We did not face discrimination of any kind, we felt free and involved
Kindness made us uninhibited for there was no fear of ridicule
Ideas and opinions were encouraged and meaningless drivel was gently and firmly dismissed
Most important we were allowed to fail( with a soft landing!) and resolutely made to get up
The learning was not just immense, it was lifelong.
To cultivate the quality of kindness- we need to “think” kindness
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness and make us want to” give”- A ripple effect
As trainers we need to be kind. Intellectual connect is vital, interwoven with caring and sharing, makes for a winning combination
Sadly intellect often makes us distant and self-absorbed . The focus shifts to ME and not YOU
To imbibe kindness and make it a part of ourselves we need to have an unconditional positive regard for everyone we come across, in and out of training halls
For as long as there are people, opportunities for kindness exist.
Of course” Kind Trainers” are deliberately tough when needed, but they calibrate the toughness and make sure the outcome is positive
Kindness is an essential ingredient for effective training-
More ingredients to balance the flavours and arrive at the perfect 10 in training… in my next…
Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes for a wonderful 2018.
Time to rekindle the spirit of GIVING!!
Have a ‘voice’, dear Trainer?
A gurgling river, a chirpy bird, gentle rain drops, tinkling cow bells, dreamy chimes, ….. have a soothing impact on us.. Our spirits lift up and an unexplained joy engulfs us
A human voice can be just as powerful in its effect.
Actors with baritone are sought after and singers with melodic voices enrapture
The voice when used the “right way” evokes concentration in the listeners
Like it is often said “ Speak in a way that makes others love to listen and listen in a way that makes other love to speak!”
In training, as in theatre, the voice is of great significance.
To ‘have a voice’ in and among your audience, calls for developing your voice.. infusing it with sincerity and versatility
Voice level which is your depth in voice, a resonance blended with voice modulation makes for an incredibly powerful voice
The simplest definition of voice modulation is - expressions in your voice - when you emote, your voice reflects the emotions you feel within
Keeping the audience engaged and enthused requires amongst other things - a voice that mirrors the purpose within your words
Here are eight simple tips to cultivate the trainer’s voice:
- Speak from the diaphragm
- Speak in a deliberate, considered manner such that each word is crystal clear
- Vary the volume
- Vary the speed- speed up for drama, slow down for emphasis
- Use Pause to highlight/emphasise/ provoke
- Have a correct posture- this helps in voice stamina
- Prepare to say what you mean… then the words flow smoothly and you articulate better
Chocolate Thins and Micro Learning..
Designed to Delight!
If you are one amongst the zillions who love chocolate, you would probably snack on Belgian chocolate thins and drown in ecstasy! Each thin, a masterpiece, with a range of flavours and filling, the flavours burst forth in the mouth . We close our eyes to experience better, the velvety texture of the chocolate and the crunchy nuts or biscuits or fruit within.
Chocolate Thins are delicious because.. well they are thin! Divine Bliss in small doses…!
Micro Learning is bite sized learning that today’s generation relates to
Keep it small, keep it sharp, keep it lively… and I will learn is what they shout from the roof tops
Micro Learning is an emergent learning strategy for closing skill and knowledge gaps
“It is a series of brief learning experiences designed to achieve an extended learning goal “
It is usually technology-enabled
All of these make Micro Learning attractive to the young learners –impatient, hungry, tech savvy , inundated with information and constant and rapid change.
Blended with class room training in the right measure, Micro learning via technology can make learning self-propelling and powerful
Self Learning is an awesome experience much like indulging in Chocolate Thins!
The Mind , Heart and Soul are awash with the joyous discovery of LEARNING.
The Training Community should be mindful of the young learner while designing workshops.
Points to consider:
- Is there precision in the content?
- Is it granular?
- Is there a variety in techniques-activities, practice sessions, games, discussions, quizzes,case studies,skits..
Are the above woven seamlessly? With the essence intact?
Plucking at the strings of training
The Veena is regarded as a divine instrument and in Hindu mythology, the Goddess of Learning is seen holding one.
When playing the veena, SHE is referred to as Sharada
Music that flows from the Veena is soulful and soothes us with melodic notes set to a rhythmic beat
We lose ourselves in the myriad moods that the instrument offers and emerge refreshed and rejuvenated
The veena player who mesmerises with her mastery with the instrument blends the “rules” of the music with her own inspiring innovation in content and style and we are in a trance that we do not want to come out from!
As with most things in life- too tight is restrictive and too loose is chaos
In training the key is to balance the conceptual knowledge, personal meaning and practical application in unique ways that result in wholesome and sustained learning
Being a stickler for time and focusing only on the tasks to be completed, much like a check-box does not help the learners to get engaged and we all know what that means
That said, just going with the Flow… meandering.. with no firm grip on discussions and activities, is a perfect recipe for disaster. The trainer in this instance may be just popular, without contributing much to the learning process
The strings of the veena when strung too tight, will snap, when too slack, will not produce a single note
Mindfulness in training is all about BALANCE
How do we trainers achieve this critical skill?
- Prepare the programme flow and timings based on the objective and duration of the workshop
- Have a judicious mix of lecture/discussions/activities/practice
- Intersperse the workshop with storytelling, humour, games…
All of these must be purposeful and aligned to the content
If in doubt… play safe and avoid it altogether.
- Have all participants in your radar, step in when needed
- Keep a tab on time and skilfully wind up discussions and activities that threaten to spin out of control
- Don’t spend more time on what YOU like and less time on what YOU don’t prefer
- Don’t get carried away by the over-enthusiasm of the participants, stay alert
Training should be meaningful, engaging, energising, taut with no slackness at any point in time
Much like the magical music of the Veena.
Considered Response- A trainer’s jewel in the crown
Have you ever thought about this?
A considered response to a trainee question is best defined as a Question!
So why do questions have such influence ? First and foremost, they prompt the brain to contemplate a behavior, which increases the probability that it will be acted upon.
The learner’s Self-Discovery through a series of deductive questions crafted by the teacher, is the most engaging learning and remains embedded in the mind and heart- A soulful experience!
Why would we as trainers want to “announce” our wisdom with finely articulated responses then?
Is it arrogance, is it the compelling urge to be The Messiah and display-“ I know it all?
Is it about value-add or adding my two cents more? Is it an uncompromising conviction in what I teach or can I be comfortable with a different view? Is it to prove a point and so am I hasty in my response? Am I reflecting enough? Do I want to examine the question through another question?
Too often, Trainers fall into the trap of talking at people, instead of engaging them. One solution is to quite simply add more questions into your talk.
The more sure we are, the more we ask, the less we tell and the impact is deeper
“If you do not ask the right questions, you discover nothing”
So how do we develop the mastery of substituting answers with questions in training
When a question is raised by the participant:
- Pause, Listen
- Ask a clarifying question
- Ask deductive questions and help the learner to “self-discover”
- Then Value-Add, if needed
Of course sometimes “expert speak” is appropriate, sometimes
The Perfect Necklace
Whether plain gold or gold with many-hued gems, the perfect necklace must complement the symmetry and balance of the personna it adorns
Everyone's features are unique, so whether the face is oval, pear, heart, square or round, the necklace must be seen as” belonging” to the wearer
For this to happen , a great deal of thought is put in finding answers to questions like-what is the occasion? Will the necklace need to be bold spangle of diamonds or subtle shimmers of stones would do?
Does the beauty of the wearer and her attire get richer by the beguiling necklace with its fine cuts that send out flashes of brilliance? How do I create a personalised,a softer touch to this necklace statement?
Should it be a classic look or a trendy day and night? Can the necklace be a powerful contrast to a rather simple, dress or… many more questions.
But like most things in life, the harder I work as a jeweller the luckier I get with my customer!
Luminous and elegant, the Perfect Necklace is a masterpiece ….. a unique blend of metals that captures and reflects her personal style.
The Touch and feel of the Perfect Necklace should define her personality and make her feel very complete, so much so that this is her ornament of choice not once but again and again.
The Perfect Training like the Perfect Necklace needs to be nuanced, blending concept and application in right measure, keeping the learner’s needs in mind
The programme flow should gently and surely lead each learner to the shore of knowledge and action in a way that addresses his/her specific needs
So yes it has to be personalised, for each one is born with a brain, but each one of us constructs his/her mind in an entirely unique way.
There is never an inadequate learner… only an inadequate teacher!
How do I take care of a personalised learning experience in the workshop? A few pointers to begin with:
- Rigour in pre work and need understanding
- Programme designs that are elegant, simple, customised with a strong structure
- Exercises , practice sessions that reflect ground realities
- A heightened sense of awareness to judge the pulse of the audience
- Enough time for reflection and specific action plans
And yes the optimum batch size depending on the type of programme to be run
The Perfect Training like the Perfect Necklace sparkles in the minds of the learners, persuading them to try, learn and re-learn joyously.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”
The Magic of A ZEN ROCK GARDEN
Posted Date 18.09.2017
Are you Santa Claus in training?
Training is a Science and when perfected, it becomes an Art
Think Zen Rock Garden-Traditionally, Zen rock gardens are not meant for picnics or other recreational activities. It is a sacred realm for Zen monks to perform their daily practice.
Training is a matter of daily practice- practice in thinking, conceptualising, designing, delivering, handholding, and the cycle never closes like a Greek Dance
Like a Zen Rock Garden, training should create a serene learning landscape where the learner goes through the joy of learning, unlearning and relearning not just in the classroom but much beyond that
“Without a speck of dust being raised,
The mountains tower up;
Without a single drop falling,
The streams plunge into the valley”
A Zen Rock Garden gives wings to your imagination and makes you light and so you fly with freedom and joy.
A learner needs to “Fly” with his newfound wisdom and capability
That’s a huge responsibility for a trainer
So ask yourself are you a Santa Claus who entertains
Or are you doing these
- Focussing on depth of concepts
- Driving application
- Practising Tough empathy
- Making learning joyous
Be A Part Of and Be Apart – The Effective Trainer
Any art requires an attachment and a detachment…. ‘An Attached Detachment’. A poet scripts his thoughts and feelings and becomes a bystander thereafter.
A singer merges with the lyrics and yet his own interpretation is what stirs our soul.
An actor lives his character and at the same time stays away from it to shape the role as he feels is ‘right’ for him.
It is a kind of yin-yang, a harmony in contradiction, a wholesome blend of right and left brain.. often we stand outside to look within.
Training when perfected is an ART. The trainer needs to empathise with his participants, facilitate learning and at the right moment disengage himself from them and allow them to learn on their own. He needs to practice ‘tough empathy’ (another seemingly contradictory set of words!) and make his feedback sharp and precise. His expertise singles him from others (that’s how it should be) and his insight gains the participants’ respect, which in turn motivates them to apply the learning at work. All through, the trainer has to blend intellect with humility and demonstrate a genuine positive regard for the learners.
How does he balance all of these?
Be a subject matter expert, be a know-how wizard, be learner-centric, be a passionate teacher.. And then step aside enabling the teaching to work within the taught.
Be A Part Of and Be Apart…
Effective trainers are admirable influencers
How important is Influencing for a Trainer... very important. Let's just go back in time. Alexander the Great was the most successful military commander of ancient history, conquering most of the known world before his death
He led his army from the front, winning battles with large empires with a force, a fraction of the enemy's army.
His men walked through deserts, fought with elephants, washed in cold water, marched up to 30 miles a day with 30 days supply of flour - Awesome!!
To Alexander war was not a personal gain or security, it was an "idea" - a free world of equality and reason. He built a shared sense of 'us". For him, it was the success of the group, Greeks and non-Greeks, than getting ahead on his own. He had the loyal support of people he conquered.
Just pondering... How did he get the army to perform… again and again?
Must have been an admirable influencer.
Trainers need to influence-engage, motivate, mobilise, energise, communicate and make learning happen joyously.
MiQUEST – Mercuri India’s QUest for Excellence in Sales Training
Training design that enthralls..
A successful design has no extra content, cuts through clutter and emerges with the fat trimmed. Like an evergreen spruce conifer- rich green, very symmetrical and "Just so"- not an ounce of flab!
Nature offers her lessons generously and it is for us to absorb and learn
Some equate Nature with Quality- forever striving to thrive, shoots and leaves and buds bursting forth in such pristine beauty
Observe closely and we see a soothing consistency
A design -whether furniture or home or whatever, enthralls, when there is no excess
Let us practice mental fitness.. for a proportionate and elegant design that does justice to the content.