Will Kenny

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

You Need an Ignoramus

you can learn a lot from someone who doesn't know what you're doing

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Does it sometimes take way longer than you expect to get fundamental ideas across to your audience? When you're promoting new products, processes, services, or best practices, does it take forever to "turn everyone around"? Do customers have trouble getting the most out of your products and services? Do employees have trouble helping your prospects and customers reap the benefits of what you offer?

Maybe you -- or the experts who are helping you, whether internal or external -- are too smart!

Sometimes we know too much about what we want to say to remember what questions we had when the subject was new. After all, a fluent speaker of another language may be a poor teacher, because s/he can't understand why beginners don't "get" a language that seems so simple and natural. Maybe you've had a math teacher who obviously understood very complex ideas, but couldn't present them in ways you understood. Are your doctor and your insurance agent only good at talking to people who already know what they're talking about?

Maybe that's how prospects, customers, and employees look at your attempts to explain things to them!

The solution? Sit down and have a nice chat with an ignoramus to find your way to a more efficient and effective approach.

Now, remember, an ignoramus is someone who is ignorant, who "doesn't know", not someone who is stupid. That person just doesn't know anything about your topic.

I'm a reasonably bright person (thought I'd better say that myself, rather than wait for someone else to suggest it), but when it comes to stamp collecting, feng shui, or the varieties of warbler, I'm an ignoramus. I couldn't tell you a thing about them.

The next time you're trying to fix training that no one uses, marketing or user materials that your customers can't understand, a newsletter than no one reads, or policy announcements that no one listens to, find someone who knows very little about what you are trying to say. This could be someone in another division of the company, or a friend or family member outside of work.

Or it could be individuals you hire, on a project basis, because they are professionals at taking the outside view, of being advocates for the bright, interested, but ignorant people you're trying to reach.

And then work with your ignoramus to tell your story, encouraging every possible question, no matter how small or stupid it seems.

Your develop communications and training to get people to embrace new ideas and methods, and they in turn help others adopt them. Preaching to the choir in a secret language won't get you there.

But a few "dumb" questions from someone who has no idea what you're talking about could just do the trick!

© 2007 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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