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More Examples Please!

As a trainer or presenter, you are likely accustomed to receiving feedback from your audiences. There are always a couple of pieces of conflicting feedback I can count on: temperature of room (too hot for some, too cold for others); and length of session (too long for some, too short for others).

Other times, there are constructive pieces of feedback that make a lot of sense (e.g., “the discussion following the simulation seemed to drag,” or “I couldn’t see the screen clearly from where I was seated”). The idea is to use this constructive feedback to improve. For instance, during my next presentation I’ll make sure to watch the time and group’s body language during the discussion following the simulation. I’ll also be more attuned to the room set-up to ensure that everyone can clearly see the screen.

So far, so good but have you ever received – from multiple sources – feedback that truly left you perplexed? I recently received feedback from a training session that “more examples” would have been helpful. While I agree that examples are vital to assist participants in transferring theory to application, I was surprised to receive the feedback because (by my count) I had included 62 separate examples over the course of a two hour presentation – that’s an example every two minutes!

I later met with the group contact and shared my confusion with this particular piece of feedback. He reassured me by saying that it only represented the views of a couple attendees out of an auditorium full of people. Still, it’s important to recognize the legitimacy of every single perspective in the room.

That got me thinking about individual and unique learning styles. They’re referred to differently depending on the source you’re citing but generally they distinguish between a learner’s preference for theory or practice, fast or slow, people or things, etc. We all have our own set of highly-evolved, nuanced preferences and tend to operate out of these preferences by default – especially when stressed (as in speaking before a large group…).

My take away: This was a great reminder to me that, while I had prepared 62 examples in advance, every participant would filter these examples differently based on his or her own unique background and set of preferences (e.g., job role, learning style preference, etc.).

Many of the examples were contained in the PowerPoint presentation or workbook. Perhaps I could share more of them orally in the future? Most of the examples were prepared in advance. Maybe I could be more spontaneous next time? The great majority of examples were my own. It might be more effective to solicit the majority of examples from the group during my next presentation.

How about you? Do you have any examples (no pun intended) of perplexing feedback from your own presentations?

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