Linking In with Matt

Matthew Richter posts daily comments in LinkedIn—well almost daily. You can follow him and join the conversation by going to For the benefit of our readers, we decide to compile and reprint some of his provocative pieces from the past. Let us know what you think.

A simple design rule

Start with the end in mind. Answer this question: What do you want participants doing differently as a result of your session? Now take that answer and either have them do it exactly as stated in a work environment, or simulate it as a role play. If the course is presentation skills, make them deliver a presentation. If it is sales, make them make sales. If it is leadership, they better lead something. Be sure you also have a set of criteria to evaluate their output. Then, the next step is to create activities and to use content that support their ability to pass this final performance test. In other words, build the test and teach to it.

Be a Lazy Trainer

The best trainer is a lazy trainer. The more a trainer does, the less the participants learn. The more a trainer prepares slides and workbooks, the less the participants learn. We spend too much time making materials and presentations perfect and less time making activities that put learners to work. Even our activities are maniacally over-prepared. More time is spent on how the activity peripherals look than making sure we run a good exercise. We talk a good game when we say engagement, but that works best when we sit down, stop talking, and stop obsessing over slides. The good news: Everyone who sees this message probably already does this. The bad news: There aren't enough of us.

Goal and Process

There is a difference between outcomes and processes. A training outcome is the application of learned skills on the job. A training process is the usage of interactivity or engagement during the workshop to reach that goal. Good measurement will evaluate both so we can identify course failures. Ultimately, I only care to engage or interact in order to more effectively reach my desired outcome. We don't train to engage. We engage because it ensures retention. We don't interact with participants for the sake of interacting. We interact because it drives better application. Our goal is application on the job. Our process is a good design that engages.