Small changes … big difference

Have you ever thought that you were doing a great job and then found some small way to make a big difference to what you do? Here is a story, just like this, of Jennifer Holloway of Spark, a personal branding expert who regularly runs workshops for her clients. This story tells of what happened when she met up and worked with Krystyna Gadd, founder of How To Accelerate Learning.

It’s good…but could it be better? ……… Jennifer’s story

JenniferMany moons ago, when I first set up my business and became my own boss, someone described me as a trainer. I instantly set about putting them straight. Having spent the last 15 years in PR, running press offices, doing media interviews and getting stories on the front page, I wasn’t a trainer. Instead, I saw myself as someone who had learnt a lot of useful stuff in their career and was simply passing this on to others, albeit in the form of workshops and seminars. (Funnily enough, just like trainers do.)

But six years have passed and the amount of time I spend standing up in front of a room of people, sharing my personal brand expertise, has grown enormously. In fact, about 70% of my income is now via workshops, so denying I’m a trainer doesn’t cut the mustard.

With this realisation in mind, I decided to take a long, hard look at what I was delivering. After all, I’d never been formally trained to impart information and although I was getting great feedback for my sessions, I wondered if I was missing a trick. Was there a way to take what I had and make it even better?

A chance encounter with Krystyna Gadd answered my question. As she spoke about accelerated learning and its ability to really embed what you teach into people’s minds so it adds value long after you’d imparted it, I knew I needed help. So I hired her to give me an honest critique of my personal brand workshop, breaking it down into what worked, what could work better with a bit of tweaking, and what wasn’t adding anything to the mix.

Let me tell you…it was some of the best money I ever spent.

As a result of Krystyna’s overarching ideas and practical suggestions, I now engage with my attendees before they’ve even entered the room. I welcome them with posters that fire their brains and set the order of the day. I check where their minds are at before we start so I can set to rest any anxieties. I have a session plan setting out each step of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. I hand them a workbook designed to be useful not just in the workshop but after it too. I get them up and out of their seats, working in pairs and groups, to generate a buzz in the room. I spend more time checking where their minds are at. I get feedback in a way that specifically relates to their personal objectives. And I carry on engaging with my attendees for three or four weeks after they’ve left the room.

It’s all obvious stuff to someone who’s a trained trainer. But to the many consultants out there who, like me, came to training via a specific business route, it’s easily overlooked.

So what’s the result of all this frenetic activity? Let’s just say that if someone were to describe me as a trainer today, I’d feel entirely entitled to agree.

When I had coffee with Jennifer ….. Krys’s story

IMG_2175I sometimes get invited to coffee and having grown a little cynical (just a tad) I sometimes accept and other times might not. Jennifer Holloway sparked off my curiosity. What does a personal branding expert want from me? Will she be looking me up and down? Absolutely! Does she want to sell me something? Not sure….

When we met, the first thing I noticed about Jennifer was how easy she was to talk to and how passionate she is about personal branding. By the end of our conversation she was keen for us to work together and for me to look at her workshops and take them from “good to great”.

As with any client, I am always keen to find out what they want to get out of a session, what difference it will make and to get to know what makes them tick. Browsing on Amazon, I was taking a look at her book “Personal Branding which I “accidentally” bought (the “one click buy” button is very close to the others on an iPad!). This happy accident has been a very useful addition to my book collection. I like its simplicity and also how it is an easy read (for a non-reader like me!).

The framework that Jennifer uses for personal branding, her “Pyramid” is an easy concept to grasp and the many real life examples that Jennifer uses, help to bring it all to life. In looking at her workshop, Jennifer’s passion for her subject came over very strongly as did the depth of her knowledge. My role was not to teach her how to “suck eggs”, but to show her how a few tweaks and tips would lead her workshop participants inexorably towards the objectives in a very deliberate way. My role was also to help her gain more buy-in and engagement during the workshop, at those times when people may start to flag.

Hearing about what Jennifer has put into practice, makes me feel very proud to have worked with her and encouraged that she has taken so much on board. Hearing what her most recent participants from her newly re-vamped workshop have said should make Jennifer even prouder. If anyone is ever looking for a great experience in learning about personal branding. My recommendation will be Jennifer, any time!

Improving your workshop skills

IMG_2175This post may be of interest to you if either:

  • You are a consultant who delivers workshops from time to time (but are NOT a trainer)
  • You are an L&D consultant with many years experience and would like some critical feedback on the workshops you deliver

UntitledRecently I worked with Jennifer Holloway, author of “Personal Branding for Brits”. We spent a half day together, where I gave her an unbiased view of what she could do to improve her workshop. This is what Jennifer said:

“I run a lot of workshops on my subject of personal brand and, although I’d always had great feedback, I wanted someone to give what I did a really critical eye to see if I could make it even better. Krystyna delivered just that – in spades! 

She impressed me with her approach, not only when we met to do the work, but also before and after. She helps you set incredibly clear objectives so you know you’re both heading in the right direction.

By the end of our session together, my head was ready to explode with all the ways Krystyna had suggested that I could take my workshop to the next level. I’m really pleased with the value for money I got.”

Here is another testimonial from Jo Bayliss, Training Manager for The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

I met with Krys for a ½ day coaching session after attending some short workshops Krys had delivered at the World of Learning conference and exhibition in October 2012.  These short sessions had introduced me to the concept of accelerated learning and Krys’ enthusiasm and energy was inspiring!  Although Krys’ website and blogs are a great source for ideas and information, a personal coaching session enabled me to look at some specific work issues and learn more about how to apply AL in my specific workplace.  The session has been hugely beneficial to me personally and I believe to the colleagues I work with on a daily basis. “

Krystyna Gadd has been a trainer for over 25 years and began her training career as an IT trainer for IBM. She has delivered The CIPD Certificate in Learning & Development Practice  (and formerly Certificate in Training Practice”) for over 6 years and her expertise lies in developing trainers to be engaging, effective and creative.

She has published an article for the Training Journal uncovering her “5 secrets” of accelerated learning and runs regular workshops for trainers and their teams, as well as subject matter experts who deliver training part-time. She is well know for her creativity, but also for her business focussed approach that delivers results for the organisation. There is nothing pink and fluffy about Krys, but she is very approachable and is a “safe pair of hands” to help you to deliver your training skills to the next level.

To speak with Krys about how she could help you  fill out your details below or look at her website .

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