How to Avoid the Information Trap: Focus on Doing before Knowing

From D Sharon PruittMost people who deliver workshops and seminars get caught up in the information trap. It’s like quicksand – once you step in it, you sink deeper and deeper, finding it harder and harder to get out. When this happens, the workshop becomes information-heavy with little opportunity for the audience to put the information to good use.

As the workshop presenter, you may feel fully engaged in delivering the information. After all, you are the one doing all of the work. But how does your audience feel? Unless you have the rare ability to create a compelling presentation that your audience finds deeply relevant, they are probably going to feel one of two ways: overwhelmed or bored. The audience will likely walk away from the workshop no better off than before.

Information is  passive. To make it active, you must have your audience DO something with the information – discuss it, practice using it, and have them figure out how they will use it outside of the workshop. By including these types of activities, your audience is more engaged and actually gets to practice using the information.

So how do you avoid the information trap when you’re designing a workshop? Start training yourself to think about what you want people to DO rather than what you want them to KNOW.  Then, once you figure out what you want them to DO, ask yourself what do they need to KNOW in order to DO those things?

Your mind will try to sabotage you by pulling you into the information trap over and over. When that happens, notice it, and remind yourself that it’s like quicksand – it’s hard to get out once you step in. Then, re-focus your attention on what you want your learners to DO.

You’ll be amazed at the difference that focusing on DOING before KNOWING makes!

About Paul

I help businesses of all sizes design and facilitate high-impact training for their employees, clients, and prospects.
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2 Responses to How to Avoid the Information Trap: Focus on Doing before Knowing

  1. Great points, Paul. The first seminar I ever gave was what I proudly called a “brain dump.” I’ve since heard it called “showing up and throwing up.” I thought I was giving “great value,” but I’ve since learned that people can only process information for about an hour to an hour and a half. Then, their brains go dead. Plus, they think that now they can do it themselves, which is not true, so you’re actually doing them a disservice. Most of them don’t know how to take notes, don’t ever look at their notes again, and vaguely remember about 25% of what you said.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    • Paul says:

      Love what you added Eugenia. You’re right, an information dump gives the appearance of being a gift, but it’s really a disservice.

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