7 Rs of Making Training Stick – The first R

7rsI’ve always been a fan of learning how memory works. I’ve read many books on the topic and have even delivered presentations on how to use memory aids so that trainers and other safety professionals can deliver entire presentations from memory.  I always use these techniques for my own presentations in case something goes wrong with the technology..and I lose my print out of my slides (you can never be too prepared) and I actually had to resort you my memory once.  While these techniques are great for remembering things like this, they do not necessarily help trainees to remember more of what they learn in a training class. One of these techniques in particular, a mnemonic, can be useful but it is not learning by itself – it only provides a way to get previously learned information out of your head.  An example of a mnemonic for the 7rs of making training stick can be send to the left.

So, what does this strange illustration have to do with safety training? I created this illustration to help me remember the 7 rs during arecent presentation on training retention. I didn’t want to have to read a slide with 7 key words. Especially in a class on retention, I should know them by heart right? Easier said then done when you are standing in front of a room full of people. I didn’t trust my memory so I created this illustration. Without even looking at this illustration, I can picture it in my head, and recite the 7rs.  I can be out walking my dogs, picture the illustration, and think about the 7rs and even tell myself (in my head of course) all about each of the Rs.  It’s a great way to practice.

So, what do you see in this illustration that relates to safety training?  Let’s talk about the first thing you probably notice – the globe head.

The globe head represents Real World.  One of the key Rs for safety trainers to consider if they want their training to be remembered is to make it relate to the real world as much as possible. Oe of the first things many safety trainers are told when they are just starting to deliver training, if they are ever told anything, is to answer the trainees’ question of  WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) Real world means that the training is realistic and applies to their actual job and work environment. Real world means they will see how it applies to them. For example, you don’t want to show a training video of a large warehouse operation to a group of trainees who only work on construction sites. If a trainee can see how what you are telling them is directly applicable to them, their brain is not going to make the effort to put the training information into long term memory, and shortly after the training class is over, they will not remember the key information.

Whenever you can use photos or videos of the actual workplace and their co-workers (not actors), you will not only get the trainees’ attention faster and keep it, they will remember it longer because they can see how it directly applies to their job.

When creating or reviewing training you are about to deliver, think about this first R,  Is your training realistic?  Does it reflect the reality that your trainees face everyday? If not, how can you make it more real-world? Even adding this first R into your training materials will make it better. Think about what you can do today.

(Tomorrow, you’ll hear about another R. Can you guess what that might be based on the above image?)

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HI! I’M GREAT!

I'm greatWhen I arrived at a professional development conference I few weeks ago to present a session, I learned that the association would no longer be assigning a moderator  to introduce me and to help with the session logistics. Since it is generally known that an individual cannot “sell from the stage” in these kinds of sessions, the only real selling of a speaker’s services or products can be done by a moderator who can mention these things in the introduction. As a consultant, this time on stage at the conference and a good introduction are extremely important for me in growing my business. Without having someone to toot my horn for me, how was I supposed to let the audience know what I had to offer without being “sales-y”?

I did some googling for suggestions, like a do with almost anything I need to figure out, and found an article on magneticspeaking.com titled “3 Steps to Introducing Yourself: (Without Sounding Like a Jerk)” written by Peter Khoury.  Peter describes three basic steps in pulling off the self introduction: 1) State your name and current job function, 2) Recall a memory from your past that will answer the following question: Why do you care” and 3) Tie back to current position (with some brag if you want).

I used his guidelines and came up with the following:

Good afternoon. My name is Linda Tapp and I’m President of SafetyFUNdamentals, a safety training resource company based in Madison, NJ.  (Number 1 accomplished)

A few years ago I had a project that involved providing supervisor safety leadership training, over 3 days, to supervisors at 6 different locations across the country for a large chemical company.  The thought – even to me – of having to sit still for 3 days – or worse yet, having to listen to me talk for 3 days, was something I did not want to do nor make the poor supervisors so is I decided to try out the accelerated learning principles I had read about and set out to find ways to apply them to this training class.  We will be talking about what accelerated learning principles are but basically, they involve adding a lot of interaction to a training class.  The 3 day safety supervisor class I was prepared to present now included over 30 different class activities. When I started the class in the first location, I could see the discomfort in the faces of the attendees when I stated that this would be an interactive class and we were going to be working through a lot of activities. I was afraid that this whole thing would fail, especially because these were some tough guys who were not about to do something they didn’t want to do but miraculously, they all actively participated and at the end of the 3 days, several of them told me how much they appreciated not having to sit there and listen to a lecture or watch videos for 3 days.  (Number 2 accomplished)

After this project, I realized these techniques and activities could help other safety trainers make their training much more effective so I created my first book, “SafetyFUNdamentals: 77 Games and Activities to Make Training Great!” and then several others containing various types of activities.  I talk about safety training activities a lot and I often have people tell me after I talk about how they use these activities in their OSHA Outreach classes so that is how this session was born, so let’s get started. (Number 3 accomplished)

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Although I felt a little awkward talking about the books I had written (I am not good at bragging about myself), I was very comfortable talking about how I had made this class a success and how I helped others so in the end, I think my self-introduction was effective and well received. My presentation that followed went really well and I got some of the best feedback and evaluations back from it that I have ever gotten from a presentation so I think I’ll be doing a lot more self introductions.

Mind The Gap

mind the gap photoHave you been out of work?

Many people have. The gap may have been a month while following a spouse for a move across the country or for a year or more to raise children. While shorter gaps are less likely to raise eyebrows, gaps longer than 6 months may provoke questions. Many employers will likely not be overly concerned about gaps in your resume unless they are unexplainable so be prepared with an answer if your time off work is questioned.
Work experience gaps can be caused by a variety of reasons but the reason most people would think of is being downsized (or fired) and not having another job lined up. Having a child and staying out of work to care for it, having an accident or other surgery and needing time to recover, needing to care for an elderly relative, or following a spouse across the country or the world for their new work opportunity are all other situations which you may not plan on occurring until they actually do.

Let me tell you how I experienced three of these situatons. First, in 1994, my husband was asked to work out of his company’s London office for a few years. I was happily employed with a bright future at a great company but I, rather unwillingly, quit to move abroad. Second, when we returned to the US a few years later, we started having children. Several maternity leaves in a row led me to decide to work for myself and from home in order to have the flexibility needed with 3 children under age 5. Fast forward a few years, and our family moved to Munich, and then back to the US, and then to the Netherlands, all for my husband’s job. We arrived back in the US in 2012 and then in April of 2013, a 42′ tree fell on me which required multiple surgeries and 2 years of occupational therapy visits. While I have not been called upon to care for elderly parents yet, I expect that to happen sometime down the line.

Two years in London, a year in Munich, three years in Amsterdam, 2 years for recovering from an accident and numerous years for childcare could have potentially left numerous and large gaps in my resume but they did not. In fact, if you look at my resume you will see no indications of any of these events

When I lived in London, my “gap filler” consisted of working as a consultant and doing many short-term projects for various US Based companies. This is a great way to fill a gap and continue getting experience but usually relies heavily on contacts to make it work and you end up relying on others to be successful. If I had arrived there and not found consulting projects, I would have had a gap of several years.

You can take things into your own hands by creating products. Creating products does not mean you give up part-time consulting efforts or contract work but instead help ensure that you have multiple streams of income which can be key, especially if you are out of work. Even if that income is very small, it doesn’t really matter since this “job” can fill your gaps.

What kind of products are we talking about? The things you are most familiar with are probably eBooks and Webinars but there are many options you can start on right now and that it key. Did you ever hear the saying “Plant Your Seeds Before You Need Shade?” (or the slightly different version of the Greek proverb about old men planting trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in, but I like this version better.) Creating products before you need to fill a gap is key since once you are in a gap, you are going to need at least a little time to complete it. Even if you are not going to go all out and get a product out there right now for people to buy, you can at least come up with the idea, start a website and have a draft so you are ready to go when the time comes.

Need an idea? Use what you already have. If you have been working for awhile you no doubt have gained some knowledge and expertise in a particular area. What topic could you write or speak easily about? You already know more than you think you do.
When developing your idea and product, think about your objectives. Do you simply want a way to keep your skills fresh, fill your resume gap or do you want to make money? How much are you willing and able to finance your product? Are you hoping your product will produce job leads? Will your product help with your personal branding and thereby help you to market yourself? Think about what you want to accomplish through your efforts before you start.

Are you getting excited? Creating products can be a lot of fun especially if you have a creative side and love trying new things but even if you don’t, that’s okay. You can still get this done.

There is another tree related quote by Abraham Lincoln I like to share: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” To translate this into product development, spend double the time preparing to create your product as you do actually creating it. What does this mean? If you take the time upfront for prep work including finding and securing a domain name, setting up a landing page or webpage, gathering a list of possible customers, getting a PayPal account, desiging the packaging or cover and then getting the cover as a 3D image for marketing purposes, you will have everything in place once your product is complete. You can even do a lot of these things simultaneously. Hire someone to design your cover for example and while they work on that for a few days, work on your product. Developing the actual content is likely going to be easier for you than putting all of the other pieces in place since your product is based on your existing knowledge and all of this other stuff is new.

Once your product is complete, decide what you want to do with it. Let’s go back to your objectves. Is this meant to fill a gap in your resume? If so, start crafting a name for this temporary “job” and a description showing off your talents and update your resume. If you hope to make some money, put on your marketing hat and start doing market research in ernest.

Now the time has come to create your product. If you did your prep work and already have a simple webpage set up, and you have your image files, and you have been working on a contact list, you can get started right away. There are so many options for each of these steps that I can’t cover them all here but will try to address them in a future post but if you really want to get going, check out GoDaddy’s website builder. If you get your domain name through GoDaddy, you can get a website for free for 30 days. I have created many websites using many of the free and paid providers and GoDaddy is one of the easiest. You don’t need a credit card to try it out (and it’s fully functioning for the 30 day trial period) so you really have nothing to lose.

The idea behind this post was to encourage you to take what you know, turn it into a product and then use it to fill a gap in your resume. Of course there are ways to make money from products but no one will ever know if you never made a sale. But, you will have something to show for your time out of work and that will show that you kept your skills sharp and stayed in the game. Creating a product as a temporary job will give you something to show on your resume during gap periods plus has the added benefit of providing future employers a way to check out your work too. Of course the best time to work on your products is before you need to benefit from them but the option is yours. Plant your seeds before you need shade, and that gap won’t matter at all.

One Bad Comment

commentI woke up this morning in a pretty good mood, confident and excited to to tackle the day. I started like I always do (but shouldn’t) reading through my email. I had received an email containing the evaluation results of a recent presentation I had delivered in Indiana where I had volunteered to speak at a conference. I was not happy, and somewhat shocked at what I read. Someone did not like my presentation! I know….it happens…and not everyone is going to like you or what you have to say all the time but one bad comment was enough to throw off my day.

For the next few hours, I thought about replying to the email in an attempt to defend myself. Then I got angry thinking about the not insignificant money I spent to attend this conference (airfare and hotel) thinking of course that I would not return. My last 3 presentations since then have gone great (actually I thought the Indiana presentation did as well) but now I felt uneasiness creeping over me. I had not yet received those evaluations and began to wonder what my future holds if others didn’t like me too. I tell myself — not everyone could get up there and do what I and many other presenters do multiple times per year. This does not help and I still feel like I’ve been knocked down a few pegs.

I am a reluctant speaker. I study presentation skills, I practice (and then practice some more) and I spend hours on the details. I am not someone who just shows up and fees entitled to be up on a stage. I still feel like someone punched me in the stomach before I speak in front of a group. In the hours before a presentation, I consistently ask myself why I do this. But I do. I believe in my message and my goal is that what I have to say will help to save lives, or at least prevent accidents, so I volunteer, I prepare like crazy, I show up early and check out the equipment and speaking space to make sure there are no unknowns that coud screw things up, and then I go on and do my best.

Once I’m going I actually really enjoy myself and the audience is usually laughing and engaged. Audience members talk to me afterwards about the content and follow up with email telling me how much they enjoyted being there and that feels great. But, I know that there was probably a person or two who will have sometrhing negative to say and this is what I focus on. It’s like having a giant plate of delicious pasta in front of you but then you see one stray hair on the side of the plate. All of the other deliciousness is gone and you focus on the one bad thing. That one bad thing takes over your mind and it’s all you can think about. The one bad comment is the hair in my pasta.

A few years ago I decided that I was not going to read the evaluations from my speaking engagements. I know, this goes agaist every self-improvement bit of advice I have ever read about the importance of feedback, but that was my answer. For about a year, I would consciously ignore the feedback that came my way. I have to say I think this helped. Instead of feeling deflated for a week after reading one bad comment, I would continue on my merry way, doing the best work I could without going over and over in my mind what I might have done wrong. I slowly started to look at evaluation summaries again but only at the summaries and not individual comments. This method gave me feedback but didn’t affect my psyche as much.

Somehow during the last year, I began reading each and every comment again and I’m starting to think that was a mistake. Inevitably, there is a person who did not enjoy what I had to say or how I said it. Not knowing the names associated with the post-presentation comments, I do not know if these came from someone who sees thrmselves as a competitor, someone who may be jealous that I was chosen to speak at a conference when they were not, or just someone who was having a very bad day. Of course, this person could genuinely believe that I did a bad job but when 99% of the evaluations are positive, I have to think that there was nothing really wrong with my presentation. But still, that one negative comment gets me. Just like a hair in my pasta.

There is No Bad Weather

IMG_4176 (1)It’s 73 degrees and sunny in New Jersey today, February 21st. (The above photo was taken just 3 days ago.)  That means that dogs that haven’t seen the ground past their own backyard since November will get walked and that wannabe Tour de France racers will be fully decked out and clogging the streets. This small burst of beautiful weather sucks people out of their houses like a strong magnet picking up a box of spilled nails.  I myself am working outside today getting a much needed dose of vitamin D.

I think people truly enjoy being out but they rarely walk the dogs, ride their bikes or push their strollers when it is not so nice. While living in Amsterdam, I learned a very important lesson – There is no bad weather – only bad clothes. What this basically means is that everyday is a great day to be outside if you are dressed appropriately. How true is that? Seriously, with rain pants, a waterproof jacket with a hood, and rain boots, you can enjoy the outdoors with the added benefit of having it to pretty much to yourself.  I have researched and purchased the warmest gloves, the best warm but lightweight jacket and warmest slip and water resistant boots and with this kit, I am free to go out no matter the weather. I love heading into the woods on days like this because no one else will be there. Perfect solitude. It’s great.

Safety often involves some very specialized clothing. There are some jobs that should not  be attempted without the right clothes. Of course you can, but you will likely run into problems, if not today, then eventually.  Think about some of the accidents you may have investigated. Were any of the recommended solutions related to clothing or most likely footwear? How many times have you seen things not go as planned, both in and outside of work because of the wrong choice of clothing or shoes?

When my daughter was young, she was riding a bicycle while wearing Crocs. If you know Crocs, you know these were not a good choice. This resulted in a fall and broken foot. My son decided to take a kayak out into the sea while vacationing in Mexico. Who needs shoes when kayaking right? While kayaking he was fine but when he stepped out near the shore – and onto a pile of very sharp coral – we all soon realized how helpful proper footwear would have been.

Have you yourself ever stopped an activity because it was either too hot or too cold? Whose fault is that? Certainly not mother nature’s. With the proper clothing you can enjoy whatever it is you like to enjoy outdoors without any hesitation. Remember, there is no bad weather – only bad clothes.

Burn Baby Burn

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I recently read “212 The Extra Degree : Extraordinary Results Begin With One Small Change” by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson. (It’s a small, short book you can easily read on a bus or train ride to work).  The premise of this book is that the difference of just one degree – 211F to to 212F – can make a huge difference.  The back cover states:

At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive.

It’s a good idea.

The idea of just doing a tiny bit more can make huge differences. Applying this and the authors’ examples to our lives as safety professionals could have huge rewards. Consider adding an hour a week (12 minutes a workday) to studying a topic that particularly interests you. At the end of the year you will have added an equivalent of a full week of dedicated study to that area.  When volunteering your time, if you gave 15 minutes more per week,  that’s about another full day and a half of service you are providing to an organization that likely really needs it. If you are a runner/jogger, going an extra .5 mile everyday would mean you ran 183 more miles in a year – that’s the distance between New York and Baltimore and more than the horizontal distance across all of Ireland.  If you got into the office 30 minutes earlier than you already do, that’s 2.5 extra hours of time per week you could use to work on your career, your side hustle, your professional development, your book – whatever. Think about it. If someone came to you and said you could leave work 2.5 hours early every Friday, what could you get done with that newly found time?

In my role as Vice-Chair for the American Society of Safety Engineers Foundation, I always wonder why some safety professionals donate and some do not. If every ASSE member just gave a little more (that one extra degree), that would mean $37,000 more dollars for scholarships, professional development grants for our peers and funding for research – and this could all happen if members gave ONE extra dollar, even if their current giving is zero.

I think it’s hard for us to see how seemingly insignificant actions, such as giving a dollar here or there, can add up. If everyone did a little extra, whether it be in volunteering, studying, exercising or donating to good causes, the benefits would be remarkable.