I've done a lot of classroom training over the past 20 years.
I've taught big groups, little groups, one-on-one, structured training classes
and free-wheeling Lunch & Learns. I've taught partners, associates, summer
associates, secretaries and staff. I've taught rollouts, new hires, and
In the aftermath of 9/11, I taught "survival skills" training,
when a merger that should have taken months happened overnight after our offices
were destroyed. Before I discovered law firms (and found that I fitted
right in), I did all kinds of technical training and IT support, including
creating the talent database for the "Late Show with David Letterman." (Click
here to see a reference.)
I'm a big fan of making training interactive and fun. (That's
not my word; it's what a user said about my recent classes in Windows XP and DM5
- "You make it fun!") But by fun, I don't mean I play games or use ice-breakers - I
mean I get people to participate and relate what they are learning to their
jobs. I believe people want to do their jobs well, and it's natural
for people to want to learn. What they don't enjoy is listening to a
trainer talk at them for a couple of hours. Give them a chance to talk and
participate, and almost anyone enjoys learning.
I enjoy teaching people who are quick on the uptake and
technologically savvy. I also enjoy teaching people who are struggling to
understand the technology. (Getting both in the same class can be tricky,
The best class I ever taught was in InterAction, the contact
management system that has an undeserved reputation for being tough to learn.
I had everybody bring real business cards to enter in the system, and whenever a
message came up, I had everyone gather round and figure out what it was saying
and what they should do next. People left laughing and saying, "I don't
know what all the fuss is about - this program is easy!"
Teaching technology to adults is very different from teaching
children. One of the most important things in teaching adults is to
instill the confidence to think they can figure out the answers for themselves.