Empty Handed Training


This article, written by Doug Devitre, was originally featured on LinkedIn.

Have you ever attended a training, a conference, or presentation and left empty handed?

It seems all too familiar when a month a later you can’t remember an action item other than you had a good time. But don’t give up hope because you can identify key considerations prior to making your next training commitment depending upon these takeaways offered by both the provider and the facilitator.

Business Woman Filling Check List

Consider these four factors.

Someone else’s success does not guarantee your future.

Out of the box training is someone else’s box. My three hour course on balloon blowing assumes you have access to the same balloons, the same set of pipes, and the same type of children who get their favorite puppy. Consider fair estimates on allocations of existing resource and time to implement before jumping all in.

Learning objectives are actionable and measurable.

Words like discover, recognize, and list only matter when playing Trivial Pursuit. If motive is subject to improving performance, increasing productivity, or flexibility then search for metric based language inside of each learning objective. For example, increase the rate of conversion is a much more meaningful than listing the steps to create a landing page.

Learning aids are non-linear.

Handouts reinforce awareness however they are limited in cognitive application. In other words, you watch a video on device, not a piece of paper. Second, the order as to which someone will complete implementation tasks depends on the online resource. A link to research a benefits comparison may suggest you next need to analyze a systems requirement. A handout may go on for pages when you only need a few quick tips along a specific journey of discovery.

Visual summaries increase cognitive performance.

Is there anything better than a well recorded audio playback from a conference?

Yes, and then some. Try these on for size.

  1. Permission to upload PowerPoint presentation to Slideshare.
  2. Copy of the whiteboard notes and drawing on presentation slides.
  3. Live polling feedback survey results from participants.
  4. Downloadable Evernote templates and files.
  5. Downloadable Wunderlist checklists for project management.
  6. Video recording of the slides synchronized with audio.
  7. Video recording of presenter.
  8. Video recording of the presenter synchronized with the slides.
  9. SurveyMonkey follow up 60 days later to measure percentage of those who implemented the training and perceived return on attendance.
  10. Photos of participants engaging with one another.
  11. Videos of participants engaging with one another.
  12. Summary blog posts that recap the pictures, testimonials, videos, slides, written feedback.
  13. Twitter and Instagram feed from the hashtag.
  14. Video conference coaching call follow up.

How you can walk away with more.


Look for two items on the next training event promotion. First, look for result driven objectives which will tell you what you will be able increase or decrease. Second, look for value added content that is not just actionable, but usable on mobile devices. You should be able to participate in several modalities of learning based on your style and if you use a wireless device or not.


You can increase your confidence in delivering value with a favorable experience and don’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. The only way to ensure you hear, “I can’t wait to come back next year” is to capture the language as many ways as possible to be used in promotion. This gift of a testimonial is earned, not given. Review the list above and hold the facilitators you hire at a higher level to deliver more value than a Hi and Bye speech so you can sell out next year.



Doug Devitre

 Companies bring in Doug Devitre, CSP when they want to improve sales and marketing using the latest technology with quantifiable metrics.  He is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Business Specialties Hall of Fame and earned the Certified Speaking Professional which is bestowed upon the top 10% of professional speakers worldwide.  His new book, Screen to Screen Selling published by McGraw Hill available in July 2015 helps executives and sales managers increase sales, productivity, and customer experience without being physically present.
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