I enjoy the privilege of attending workshops. I get to sit back, learn, meet great people and simply take in others’ perspectives for a few days. It is really a wonderful opportunity. Often, workshops give me new perspectives on new or old topics. Sometimes they teach me what not to do. Recently, I attended a workshop and came away with this list of how not to teach.
(Note to pastors: I think some of this could be applied to preaching as well.)
1. If all the stories you tell are about how you are smart and everyone else is dumb, eventually people will see arrogance not excellence. This applies to the stories you tell related to your topic and the stories you tell about yourself.
2. When you don’t walk the talk… people get suspicious. The biggest endorsement one can give for one’s message is to genuinely walk the talk.
3. People feel cheated when you make promises upon which you don’t deliver. These promises could be about many things – promises regarding what you will teach, about end and start times, about your availability to the participants etc. If you don’t plan to deliver, don’t make the promise.
4. The training is not about getting people to buy more of your services. If it is, then that should be clear in the promotional material. If you have something of value to teach, let this be what you bring to the table. If it leads to more work, then let that be the icing on the cake.
5. It is generally unwise to fall into the “consultant’s temptation.” This is the temptation, as though you were using a machete, to clear the ground of any idea anyone else has ever had and present your own idea as the ultimate and only truth. If my idea is only good when I’ve proved everyone else’s idea is bad, eventually people begin to wonder… maybe the story was right – the emperor indeed does not have any clothes.
6. Don’t mock people. It doesn’t look good.
7. It is wise to notice your own inconsistencies because if you don’t, someone in the crowd will. If you tell everyone that X is a bad idea but then proceed to tell people that you actually practice something pretty close to X yourself… well, people start to wonder.
8. Be sure there is depth to your idea. Dressing up a thin idea with a lot of great words and diagrams works for awhile. Eventually, however, the participants will be on to you and your credibility is lost.
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Betty Pries has more than 20 years of experience coaching, mediating, training and consulting in the areas of conflict resolution and change. Betty's work with churches and church organizations is guided by her desire to enhance their spiritual and organizational health, and strengthen the capacities of leadership to discern a way forward.