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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

Audience, Audience, Audience . . .

know who you're talking to, and everything else is easy

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

One thing I've noticed, in years of promoting best business practices through training and documentation, is how many projects begin with a discussion of what the final communication tool -- the online course, the seminar, the conference, the self-study packet -- will talk about. Whomever I'm working with, a product or service manager, staff function, or business owner, they'll begin our conversation by saying something like, "We need to tell them to . . . ".

And then I ask who "them" might be. Where are they? How many are there? What do they do, exactly? What do they do that the organization wants them to do differently, or just better?

I'm surprised how often the people who are hiring me have trouble answering these questions. They want to spread their best practices among their employees, but they haven't really thought about who is receiving the message, they've just thought about the message.

Sometimes the client pulls out a convenient label -- customer service reps, tech support, sales reps -- but when I ask for more information, they can't tell me very much about what they're like.

As we continue to develop the design, I draw out information about the experiences their audience shares. How do they usually get communications from the organization? e-mails? Staff meetings? Special seminars? Something on the intranet? Media?

And how do they react? Are there formats that they embrace, and formats that they reject? How receptive are they when a new "initiative" comes down from management?

Think back to when you were a kid. When you wanted something, you knew whether you had a better chance of getting it from dad, or from mom. And you approached each of them differently. You adapted your message to fit your audience. You knew enough about them to have some ideas of how to reach them, and also some ideas about what to avoid doing, when you wanted something.

That's the kind of information that really helps you influence your audience, whether you're trying to get employees to work differently, or trying to persuade prospects to let you come back to continue the sales conversation. And most of the time, you, or someone in the organization, has this information. You just haven't thought about it, or realized how important it is.

In the restaurant business it is often said that the three keys to success are "location, location, location." In spreading best practices throughout your company, the three keys to success are "audience, audience, audience."

Once the who is truly understood, the what to say and how to say it become much easier . . . and much more powerful.

© 2007 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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