Friday, June 23, 2023

Why must I listen to you?

Due to the registration process for the "憲福 Private School," I've had the opportunity to see the applications of many outstanding lecturers and those aspiring to become professional speakers. As I review, a question often arises in my mind: "Why would they (corporate employees or managers) listen to you?"

There is no disrespect intended in my query; it merely reflects some of the realities I've encountered during my classes. Perhaps many believe that as corporate lecturers or management consultants, standing on the stage... we always receive many respectful or admiring looks. Maybe that's true... when you successfully complete a task, you genuinely receive a lot of respect. However,... at 9:00 in the morning, when you've just stepped onto the stage... believe me, most of the trainees, apart from some being a little bewildered or sleepy, are mostly skeptical...

"Who are you? Why should I listen to you?

As many of you know, my core courses focus on professional presentation skills. Let's use myself as an example. After the Lunar New Year, I took on a training case. The company is the largest in its industry worldwide, and the participants were the highest-level managers under the general manager, a total of 30 executives. If I recall correctly, there was one senior vice president, three vice presidents, and deputy managers at the basic threshold. We had to cover "Professional Presentation Impact" in one full day.

Now, I pose a question to you: Do you think these very experienced and battle-hardened executives need to hear from you about "presentation skills"?

I need you to genuinely imagine this scenario. Suppose you've accepted this training case (this is a top-tier case, by the way... the general manager attended the entire course with a notebook in hand, never leaving during a single lesson!). Standing on the stage, you face a group of globally renowned top executives within the industry. How would you begin your presentation class?

Round 1

If you really try to imagine this situation, you will actually know that why I repeating ask:

“Why they need to listen to you?”

Let's think carefully. If you start from "the importance of presentations," or why we need to deliver a "good presentation," the executive students below the stage would probably start thinking... "Is this something I don't know? Do I need you to teach me this? I'm usually the one demanding this of others..."

Alright, basic theories won't do! Let's teach something deeper. We start discussing "presentation structure," "slide design," "body language"...

How long do you reckon it would take before the executives below the stage start rolling their eyes?

If you just approach it from a "professional" angle, facing these experienced, yet very capable students, these professional aspects will probably be questioned pretty quickly! I guess the students would be thinking, "These basics are too rudimentary!", "Are these skills even applicable?", "I've been in the workforce for so long, how would I not know these?", "Isn't there anything more impressive?"

The "profession" mentioned here may not necessarily be "presentation." It could also be "accountability," "time management," "management skills," "communication techniques," "business skills," "negotiation skills," etc.

When the audience shows impatience or doubt, think about this... You've only just passed the first hour of the morning. You might still have six hours of classes to deliver... After lunch, an even greater challenge awaits... Can you imagine how torturous that could be?

Round 2

You may wonder: "Since starting with professional expertise doesn't work, I'll do my homework in advance and delve into examples from their industry. How about that!"

Hmm... excellent! This group of top industry executives on the floor, if you were to discuss other subjects... they might not find much relevance. But you're choosing their field, the thing they are most familiar with, what they deal with every single day, to teach them. I believe everyone, at first glance, will certainly brighten their eyes, paying utmost attention...

You'd better pray not to make a mistake, or else the audience will open fire. Instantaneous demise on the spot!

"Why should they listen to you?" One is the industry knowledge that you crammed just before class; the other is a group of senior executives who rotate in this industry every day. Let's ask again: "Why should they listen to you?"


Typing up to this point has been a learning experience for me as well. I was originally quite bold and didn't really think too much... that's why I started working as a corporate trainer. Fortunately, I didn't have many cases at the beginning, and I was able to slowly refine my approach with each one. Reflecting on today... I have developed some thoughts and techniques. These techniques... I will contemplate them in depth, organize them... and share with my partners at "SF's Private School"...

Last week, I went to a large company where the HR department had briefed me before the class: "Our boss once had a record of asking a lecturer to leave within an hour of starting a class (no need for the rest of the class, we'll still pay!). Please be understanding..." Haha, were they trying to intimidate me?! Fortunately, the boss was happy throughout the class that day and stayed for the whole day...

Think, and think again, apart from expertise... "Why should they listen to you?"

Note: These thoughts arose while on the high-speed train, before discussing the selection list with  Louis...


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