Friday Fury – Sweet Nothings

It’s no secret I’ve been out and about a lot this week. The Employee Engagement Taskforce Conference, the L&D Connect Unconference and the CIPD HRD Conference have all had to put up with me. I survived, and I hope that all the people I met, smiled at, and talked with did too.

Whilst at the L&D Connect event I heard lots of talk of how L&D practitioners dislike the idea of training being dished out ‘like Smarties‘. The implication was that organisations could hand out training and learning like brightly coloured little sugary treats. People were saying stuff like ‘There’s more to training and development than that’. And I’m inclined to agree.

The following day as I wander round the Olympia exhibition hall at the CIPD event I hear the same thing being discussed and at the same time I find myself almost overwhelmed with brightly coloured sugary treats. In disbelief I took stacks of pictures of the offending sweeties. They were everywhere, here are just a few of them (and to avoid embarrassment I’ve left all the promotional branded ones out).




Are you feeling sick yet? No – OK here’s more:




Enough already! Is the L&D product market place really so uninspiring that you need to lure someone to your stand with the promise of sweeties? It strikes me that L&D professionals and suppliers might want to get together and talk about this because from where I’m sitting – the Smarties conversation didn’t sit well among all the……Smarties (other sugary treats are available).

Preferred Learning Methods

As part of our work with Careergro we’ve been asking companies and people about their preferred methods of learning. This is part of some wider research on career development more of which we’ll share soon, but for now seeing as we’re at the CIPD HRD event, we’d like to share a little of what we’ve seen so far. We’ve had replies so far from 24 companies and 53 individuals, and we asked ‘what are your company’s/your preferred methods of learning and development (please choose all that apply)?’.

Preferred Learning Methods

I showed these figures to Rob Jones who suggested that a reason why further study rates better among employees than employers, might be that the results transfer easily to the CV? And I found the figures for networking disappointing, perhaps the mix of learning and beer isn’t conducive to great post event recall? And training courses remain popular, more so with employers than employees. Is there something here about containment, and ‘we’ve seen you do it ergo you are trained’, perhaps?

I’m interested to know what other thoughts and ideas these numbers provoke so please don’t be shy 🙂

Meantime, the surveys remain open and you can complete the employer one here and the employee one here. They are short, and we mean short. The survey takes no more than three minutes so please take part and help add to this study.

The Man With No Name

So the big nerves are over – for now at least. I’ve given a talk on Smart Use of Social at the CIPD HRD event and it seemed to go well. The little auditorium was overflowing, nothing like a crowd to put the fear in you!

I don’t know about you but increasingly I find straight forward presentations rather dull, and I’m not sure how much learning actually sticks. So I’ve been trying a few ways of making a talk more engaging that you might find useful to think about the next time you are asked to give a talk.

Pictures v Words

I’ve got a confession to make, I’m falling in love with PowerPoint. There, I’ve said it. It is a great tool for adding visual depth to a talk. The session I ran this morning had a few slides, and only one had any words on it (four of them in total). If you’ve lots of written stuff you want to share, that’s fine but please put it in a document, not on a bunch of slides.

Ask v Tell

I started the conversation asking people ‘what do you want to get out of this session?’. The beauty of this approach is that I’m dealing directly with the needs of the audience. It happened that some of those needs mapped nicely onto some of the images I had in the deck so where there was a good fit, I used them. I keep reminding myself that I know what little I know already and because I’m a lousy mind reader I find this a useful way to kick off a talk. 

The Eyes Have It

Eye contact matters. Even though people say I don’t show it I get quite uptight when giving talks. Something that helps me to relax is the personal direct contact I have with others. So when I’m talking I talk to one person at a time. I try and make eye contact with as many people as I can. The interaction that produces is wonderful, and I find it reassuring. And I think it helps people in an audience feel involved too.

So there are three things that worked for me this morning, and it didn’t all go to plan…

Mister Invisible

Several people came up to me after the talk to say thanks, one guy even declared the session ‘brilliant’. Then I detected a buzz of ‘where can we find out more?’, ‘who was that guy?’. I froze. I had made a school boy error. I forgot to tell anyone my name, far less share any contact details. Idiot!