Memo to Participants

THE FOLLOWING IS A MEMO THAT ALL PARTICIPANTS READ BEFORE ATTENDING THE COURSE

Participants:

You will soon attend a professional development and coaching session with Allan Bonner Communications Management Inc. This session is being customized to suit your needs.

You have or will soon have a textbook, written by Allan Bonner. I hope you can read the entire book, but if you must skim. This works with our CD, DVD or Video Clips on the blog or our webpage

The first three hours of your session deals with three topics: making a clear message, delivering a clear message and non-verbal communication. The learning in this section is cumulative, so that the curriculum will be of the greatest value once this module has been successfully completed. The focus will be on performing your messages, not just discussing them. This is not a meeting where the merits of a message or its alternatives are discussed at length, but an active melding of the medium (speech), the message (semantic content) and the messenger (you). It is in your performance that you will determine how appropriate the content and style are.

For this reason, please restrict your questions in this module to points of fact you must clarify in order to perform the tasks assigned. In your performance, you will find the answers to many of the questions you have about the efficacy of the system. It is often quicker to learn by doing than discussing. Please give this a try.

For those who enjoy androgogical theory, this is a blend of Eastern and Western methods. In the West, we favour cumulative, incremental learning. One aspect of Eastern learning is experiential – seeking order out of chaos. Even when we are in unfamiliar situations, we strive to understand. This is a powerful force to harness. At Harvard University ‘s Leadership Education Programme, this is called “neck down learning.” This is why your active participation, willing suspension of disbelief and open mind are all essential for your success.

It is worth giving serious consideration to what kind of a learner you are. Studies show that we are about evenly divided into three types of learners: visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. You will notice many diagrams and visual aids in the book for the first category. We have audio learning packages and live lecture for the second category. We also need you to actively and physically engage in the course to harness your kinaesthetic learning. You will be asked to deliver messages standing and sitting in a variety of simulated encounters.

Think back to what kind of learner you were in grade school, high school and post-secondary school. What was the curriculum like? How were you treated and how did you react? What kind of adult learner are you? We are trying to fully disclose our teaching methods. They are based on considerable thought, and years of post graduate study. We take the task of making a profitable learning experience for you very seriously. We hope you will take a few moments for self-evaluation to add to your own learning experience.

On scales of 1-10, with 10 being the most, please answer the following questions

  • how much do you really need this course?
  • how likely is it you will use the skills in this course in the next quarter?
  • what is the impact of not mastering these skills?

At the beginning of the course you can self-identify as an observer or less than active participant. You can ask for fewer interviews or lighter questions. You can write out the questions that you want to field and ask that you only deal with these. Or you can self-identify as someone with low need, low likelihood of using the skills and little impact if you do not master the skills. Nonetheless you can request the full and realistic range of interviews and questions. We recommend the latter to achieve full value and transferable skills.

Researchers have identified several types of adult learners. Sergio Pellegrinelli in Beyond Management Development: Facilitating Grounded, Experiential Learning, in Consulting Into the Future The Key Skills, Karen Lee ed., Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2002 captures this. He categorizes attendees in management development courses in three groups:

1. Learners, who are genuinely interested in the subject and in learning, and are prepared to work and contribute on the course.

2. Holiday-makers, who regard going on courses as a form of vacation and consequently as a way of getting out of work and relaxing-if they learn something it’s a bonus.

3 Prisoners, who have been sent on the course by their managers, and who generally think they have nothing to learn and that it is a waste of their time.

If these are truly the motivations of attendees, then management development courses are justifiably closer to nursery school classes than university lectures. Trainers use short input sessions, animation and performance, discussions and interaction, exercises and practical examples to hold the course together. The learners are actively involved and absorb the input, the holiday-makers are entertained and the prisoners are co-opted and given one or two ideas to take back to the workplace.”

Naturally we want #1s in our courses. We have fun. We offer tricks and tips that are interesting. But underneath that veneer of humour and fun, remember we are very serious about communication and adult learning. We have dedicated our adult lives to this topic and years of post-graduate study. We want you to reap the benefit, not be on holiday or in prison.

Imagine a student in university walking into class with a sour look on her face and telling the professor before the lecture begins that she is too busy to read the texts, doesn’t like going to tutorials, needs to make phone calls during class and has to leave early every day? At the end of the course she gets a poor mark and naturally blames the professor.

Imagine the medical analogy. What if a patient arrived for an annual check up only to tell the physician that he had eaten that morning despite directions to fast, only took half his hypertension pills, didn’t exercise and wanted full lab tests, but instructed the doctor to remove only 5 cc of blood. The patient has a heart attack and blames poor diagnosis.

We can’t guarantee you success-even though our system has worked with 25,000 of the highest need clients on five continents. But we can virtually guarantee you that if you modify the session too much, or don’t come prepared and prepared to work, you have a higher likelihood of failure than if you follow our curriculum.

Think seriously about whether you want to make a case for a shorter day, a larger group or special dispensation for busy schedules. We are flexible, but lesser outcomes as a result of your modifications will be your responsibility.

We have worked very hard for years to understand our topic. The Centre for Training is a place of serious study. We ask you treat your time with us as a serious and active workday.

THE SECOND HALF

One modification we do not mind is splitting your session in two. If you need two days, separating these by a week may result in better outcomes. If you need a full day, we can split that in two as well. Two half days can allow participants to spend part of each day on their own desk work, but fully participate in their half day training session too. They can also do homework, refocus and come back determined to succeed.

In the second half of your session, for about three hours or so, you will have a number of performance encounters to exercise your ability to steward issues, advocate for your cause or organization encounter resistance to your ideas. You will encounter a number of types of questioners, from the keen beginner, the aggressive person trying to further her career, to the world weary and cranky veteran. These exercises will be a metaphor for your presentation, public speech, internal meeting or negotiation session. Attack these encounters. Do better each time. Try new techniques, safely, behind closed doors.

What will you speak about? You decide. But choose wisely. You will be speaking for up to 10 minutes, on camera, facing challenging questions and repeating the exercise many times. The subject matter can include:

  • your organization’s history
  • procedures, goals, aspirations
  • systems, processes, products
  • unique offerings or perspectives

You will need:

  • facts, data, statistics
  • anecdotes, stories, examples
  • visual aids, samples, quotations

If you cannot bolster your argument, you don’t have an argument. If you cannot support your position, your position will crumble.

You will be asked:

  • Why?
  • Why not?
  • Are you sure?
  • How do you know?
  • Please give me an example?
  • How often?
  • How many?

The more you bring to the session, the more you will take away. We look forward to assisting you. Thanks for choosing us.