Reach Your Audience: The Role of Charisma

Tom Fox is onto something over at the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog (via Ethisphere LinkedIn group):

One often hears or reads about complaints that compliance training is dull, nay even boring. I mean, how many times can you expect someone to be lectured to on the riveting subject of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FCPA or even the UK Bribery Act? Coupled with the legally spellbinding subject, the sessions are often led by lawyers who are training non-lawyers.

He discusses a few approaches to the charisma gap.

There is one very partial solution to the problem, what might be called “Ersatz charisma.”  Rather than try to make your trainers have more personality, give them teaching tools, in the form of videos, high quality slide shows, etc.

The problem is, producing top quality materials takes resources and people who know what they are doing. One of the things we are trying to do with this website is “amortize” these investments by spreading high quality materials among multiple trainers, multiple trainees and multiple agencies. Help us if you can.

Lawyers Teaching Non-lawyers

Most federal ethics training is conducted by lawyers. Most of the people being trained are non-lawyers. Problem? Tom Fox thinks so:

One often hears or reads about complaints that compliance training is dull, nay even boring. I mean, how many times can you expect someone to be lectured to on the riveting subject of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FCPA or even the UK Bribery Act? Coupled with the legally spellbinding subject, the sessions are often led by lawyers who are training non-lawyers.

While some lawyers are up to the task of making their training engaging, in my experience this is a challenge for many lawyer ethics trainers. A possible solution discussed here previously is greater sharing of ethics training materials. Rather than designing their own training materials as a sort of cottage industry, trainers, including lawyers, should adopt high quality training materials.

Better awareness is another approach. If you are a lawyer, don’t assume that if you understand an explanation, your audience will understand it. Solicit feedback from on your materials and your delivery before you go into “production mode” with your training, and afterward. Most important, learn the difference between talking down to your audience (to be avoided at all costs), and explaining complex things in a way every audience member will understand.

Training Tips Columns Archive

IEC Journal has an archive of the 24 ethics Training Tips Jerry Lawson drafted for them on roughly a monthly basis in 2011-13. These columns cover a wide variety of training techniques, from selecting fonts for use in slide shows to handling questions from hostile audience members. We will be returning and expanding on this material in future posts to this blog.

Save Streaming Video Content for Local Viewing

Lifehacker is a website devoted to providing practical advice on real-life problems. Their article How Can I Save Un-downloadable Online Video Content to Watch Offline? addresses an issue relevant to ethics training:

There are many videos from YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc. that would be excellent additions to training programs. However, many training rooms do not have the Internet connections needed to show streaming videos. The article discusses ways to save such content to a laptop, so you can show it to audiences without an Internet connection.

Computer Games to Teach Ethics?

Government Executive has a fascinating article about the use of computer games to teach federal employees about contracting.  The article mentions a Dec. 18 solicitation from the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service and goes on to explain:

The games must allow users to branch out on different paths based on decisions they make rather than each decision being simply rated “right” or “wrong,” the agency said. Users should also receive some reward, such as earning points, for decisions that result in a successful contract.“

Virtual environments allow the user to make mistakes in a risk-free setting through experimentation and at the same time keep the users engaged,” the solicitation stated.

The solicitation lists numerous government-built games the designers can use as partial models, including the Centers for Disease Control’s Solve the Outbreak app and Charge!, an Android game in which players use the Federal Acquisition Regulations to outfit secret agents with tools to battle “a nefarious evil genius who is out to take over the world.”

Let’s hope the agency or agencies who commission similar games for ethics training have enough foresight to draft their contract specifications broadly enough so that the end product will be readily adaptable for government-wide use.

FBI Bulletin: Guidelines for Public Speaking

The most recent issue of the FBI Bulletin has some excellent Guidelines for Public Speaking. Here are the first few:

  1. When giving a presentation, speakers should not display mobile phones, pagers, or other electronic devices. These objects signal to the audience that the attention is not entirely devoted to them.
  2. Presenters need to remove lanyards, badges, and large jewelry. These are very distracting.Lecturers can enhance their appearance by wearing small pins on their lapels.
  3. This gives the impression that they are larger than just a single individual—they are part of an organization or group with a bigger cause.

The whole list is worthy of attention.