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Crafting the Perfect Playlist for Your Next Company Event or Conference

You never know how much a playlist matters until you attend an oddly silent conference. Something just feels off, as if the room was zapped of energy. Luckily, crafting the perfect playlist for your company event is an easy and low-cost way to amp up the energy in the room—and the right playlist can set the tone and support the core message of your whole event! Here are four things to keep in mind as you put your conference playlist together.

1. Include high-energy hits.

You know those songs that come on the radio that cause you to immediately turn up the dial? Those are songs you need to include in your conference playlist! Pepper your playlist with high-energy contemporary hits that have a broad appeal. These infectious hits are an easy way to keep your participants enthused during breaks and between sessions. Keep in mind, of course, that you don’t want to play anything too risque or suggestive—remember to purchase the clean version of each song!

Some high-energy hits that’ll pump up participants are:

  • “Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
  • “Happy,” Pharrell Williams
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” Justin Timberlake
  • “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift
  • “Roar,” Katy Perry

2. Sprinkle in some oldies but goodies.

It’s a good idea to include some hits with timeless appeal, especially if your conference will be attended by a mix of ages. There’s nothing worse than attending a conference and not recognizing any of the music! Just like with your contemporary hits, however, you’ll want to make sure the classics you choose are upbeat and on message.

A few energetic hits that have stood the test of time are:

  • “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Journey
  • “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Diana Ross
  • “ABC,” The Jackson Five
  • “Build Me Up Buttercup,” The Foundations
  • “Walking on Sunshine,” Katrina and the Waves

3. Tie songs into your theme.

Theming your company event or conference is a great way to boost enthusiasm and tie all your sessions and activities together with a common thread. Theming your conference, however, only works to build enthusiasm if you fully commit to bringing the theme to life for your participants. That means paying attention to the details—decor, dining, and beyond.

One way to add to the themed ambiance (without dipping much into your conference budget)? Find music that fits your theme. It may take a little more research and creativity, but the right music can help you set the right tone for your theme. For example, are you turning your conference space into an outpost in the Wild West? Then add Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” the Steve Miller Band’s “Space Cowboy,” and Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” to your playlist pronto. Yes, these songs are a bit silly—but that’s exactly what will help your participants loosen up and immerse themselves!

4. Use a “welcome to the stage” jam for speakers.

Cue up the music to alert your participants that it’s time to pay attention to the stage again. Use one of two strategies to welcome speakers to the stage.

  • You can pick one song and use it for each speaker throughout your conference. This is a smart approach because as soon as participants hear the song start to play, they know what’s going to happen next and can find their seats accordingly. If you go this route, make sure you pick a song that supports the message or theme of your event, because it will be the song your participants hear most often.
  • Or let your speakers pick their own “welcome to the stage” songs—similar to how each player on a baseball team walks up to home plate to a song of their liking. This approach may take more logistical planning to pull off, but it adds a big dose of personality to your event and can make speakers feel more involved.

What other songs always make their way onto your conference playlists to ensure your event is engaging?


As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.


Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Outside the Box Corporate Event Ideas

Incorporating creative ideas into your next event can help turn an unremarkable afternoon into a memorable one. You may even make a lasting impression on a handful of members on the team. Over the past several years, creating memorable experiences has become a primary focus for a younger generation of working professionals.

Labeled as the “experience economy,” this mentality represents how the Millennial generation defines happiness. According to recent research, the Millennial generation is less interested in possessions or career status than they are in living a life defined by creating, sharing, and capturing memories through experiences. In fact, 77 percent of Millennials say some of their best memories are from an event or live experience they attended, whereas 69 percent believe that live events and experiences connect them to other people, the community, and the world.

As Millennials account for more than one-fourth of the total U.S. population, this emphasis on experiences can manifest itself across corporate events as well. While we aren’t suggesting that you must host a high-energy festival to pique the interest of your Millennial employees, it’s still entirely possible to incorporate creative concepts into your current event strategy. The following are some ways to do that.

Pecha Kucha

Japanese for “chitchat” or “chatter,” Pecha Kucha is an alternative presentation format where hosts show 20 images for 20 seconds each. Devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture in 2003, the format was intended to serve as an alternative, simple way to engage audience members.

Rather than rely on PowerPoint presentations and long-winded speeches, Pecha Kucha forces speakers to present only their strongest points and refine their speeches to focus on material that is immediately relevant to their audience. Speakers are able to supplement their presentations with pictures and images, with the only rule being that they must not pass the six-minute mark.

Granted, not all presentations should be confined to six minutes. However, if it fits your subject matter, it’s worth a try.

World Café

The World Café—sometimes referred to as Knowledge Café—is a structured conversational process designed to spark discussion across small groups that are then linked to larger groups. First organized in 1995, these events emphasize not only speaking and listening, but also alternative forms of learning such as visual.

Generally, the event kicks off with a keynote address in which a facilitator provides a series of open-ended questions based on a predetermined topic. Next, groups gather around small, round tables, where participants discuss and digest the problems at hand. Finally, the smaller groups come together as one large group and, through collective intelligence, discuss options and solutions.

Above all, the World Café method emphasizes the importance of creating a comfortable environment for participants. The goal of this style of corporate events is to create an inviting environment that mimics friendly conversations with friends. Much like experiential learning, this corporate-event technique requires participants to actively engage in an immersive challenge that mirrors problems they face in the real world.


Championed by the technology industry, an unconference—also known as an Open Space conference—is a participant-driven corporate event style that’s based on the idea that team members have as much collective knowledge as the group of presenters. The format creates space that fosters peer-to-peer learning and collaboration by encouraging audience participation.

Sessions will run the gamut from informal to formal topics. Generally, all of your conference participants will gather to be guided through creating an agenda together. It is not necessary to prepare sessions; nor is there a prescribed “right way” to lead a session. Instead, unconferencing is designed to provide an open format that encourages organic interaction and discussion. If you need help getting things off the ground, below are a few ideas for sessions:

  • Longer presentations: Generally reserved for big ideas.
  • Short presentations: Five to 15 minutes of prepared material and comments, followed by interactive discussions.
  • Group discussions: Have team members introduce a topic they are interested in, while others join the conversation.
  • Big (or little) questions: Encourage team members to openly ask questions and then discuss potential answers.
  • Show and tell: Have team members provide quick presentations on projects, demos, or anything else they’re involved with.

Again, it is not necessary for those attending to understand the exact process in advance; the format will become clear as the conference unfolds. What’s more important is that those gathered have the opportunity to put their own ideas and sessions on the agenda.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning sessions are truly creative ways to inspire interactions among your participants while naturally building a wide range of skills and abilities. These events mask critical training as immersive challenges and can be centered on a theme. What’s more, experiential learning programs can be designed to address specific business topics such as improving communication, collaboration, accountability, and decision-making.

By appealing to their senses, experiential learning fully engages individuals and inspires them to reflect on their decisions. This ensures that event content is relevant to your team members’ responsibilities and goals.


Ian has been with Eagle’s Flight since 1997, and is Executive Vice President, Global Accounts. He holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Ian spent 12 years at Nestlé Canada and brings a wide range of experience that includes practical business experience in management, sales, program design, development and mentoring. He works closely with the Global licensees to ensure their success as they represent Eagle’s Flight in the worldwide marketplace. He has developed outstanding communication skills and currently is the Executive in Charge of a large Fortune 500 client with a team of employees dedicated to this specific account. As a result, Ian has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and strategic direction.


Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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Meeting Halfway (Or More) in SalesThe Age of the Internet and evolving purchasing habits have made sales training more important than ever. With access to virtually anything online, the role of the salesperson has shifted. Customers have countless options, and they are no longer restricted to making a purchase at a single location or even at a physical store. They also have access to product information, reviews, and social recommendations that influence purchasing behavior. To be successful, salespeople must offer real, tangible benefits to customers, and that often requires shifting mindsets and taking a new approach.

Meeting the customer halfway is no longer enough. To build a loyal customer base, you must go above and beyond to serve their needs. This three-step process is the foundation of a modern sales approach that will contribute to better customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Knowing the ins and outs of your products and services is not sufficient. You must also know what the customer needs, what problems they are trying to solve, and how your product addresses the challenges they are facing. Framing your product or service as the solution to their perceived problem is the first step in capturing their attention. To do this, you must understand your customer’s current reality and how your product can best serve their needs.


Once you understand the challenges your customers are facing, use the Five Gears of Selling to demonstrate that you meet their real and perceived needs effectively and authentically.

  • Executive presence – People with executive presence have the ability to draw others to them with excellent listening skills and the ability to read situations and react to them accordingly. Salespeople who foster this key trait will attract a larger audience, which ultimately leads to a larger customer base.
  • Real need – If you can’t demonstrate the real need for a product or service, customers are not likely to make a purchase. Articulating the customer’s current challenges and how your offering can help solve them will prompt a prospect to explore further.
  • Objections – As they dive deeper, customers will inevitably have objections to your product or service. Whether it is price, complexity, or fear of change, you must be prepared to overcome these objections in a way that eases their minds.
  • Close – A sale isn’t closed until the customer says yes. Learn the necessary sales skills to guide a conversation to a yes instead of another call or more time to think about it.
  • Next steps – Clearly articulate the next steps in the process so that the customer knows what to expect and when. Even a sale that has been closed can fall apart when communication breaks down or expectations are not met.

Remember that customers will only buy from people they trust and only if they understand the product and how it benefits them. Therefore, it is critical in the Age of the Internet to build that foundation with a potential client, before even attempting to close a sale.


Relationships with customers should not be adversarial; rather, they should be viewed as partnerships that can benefit both parties and continue to evolve over time. Identify where on the relationship spectrum you are with each customer and then optimize every opportunity to capitalize on that position. Change your mindset from closing individual deals or making single transactions to nurturing a long-term partnership. Customers will notice the difference and gravitate toward the company that makes them feel like they are participating in something greater, rather than being “sold to” when it’s time to make a purchase.

The evolution of the sales model cannot be ignored if you want to be successful in the modern world. If your sales team is not taking steps in this direction, the organization will eventually fall behind. Investing in sales training is the first step toward long-term behavior change that leads to meeting the customer more than halfway.


Since 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design, and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.


Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight

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The Power of a Common Language in Customer RelationshipsExperiential learning is a valuable tool for improving a team’s approach to customer relationships. Rather than just explaining the importance of putting the customers’ needs first, experiential learning allows participants to get a deeper understanding of the positive impact that customer centricity can have, by taking them through an immersive experience that clearly demonstrates cause and effect. An important component of this experience is that participants share a common language.


Creating a common language around customer centricity does not mean using cliché phrases like “the customer is always first.” It means allowing the team to develop its own common language from a shared experience that evokes a visceral feeling and causes the team members to shift their behavior.

Let’s use Rattlesnake Canyon, an Eagle’s Flight program, as an example. In this experience, teams compete to make as much money as possible by selling goods to a railroad company. Settlers buy individual products like livestock, lanterns, and tools and sell them to merchants who assemble them into kits. The merchants then sell the kits to the railroad, the end customer.

During the course of the experience, participants quickly learn that they can make a lot of money by buying and reselling pigs, so a pig-purchasing frenzy quickly emerges. However, after the railroad buys a certain number of pigs, it doesn’t need any more, and it stops purchasing them. This leaves settlers and merchants with an abundance of pigs that they can’t sell, ultimately limiting their resources and hindering their ability to provide their railroad customer with the other supplies. When the teams figure this out, a common language emerges: “Stop buying pigs!”

What happens during this experience? The teams become so focused on making money by buying and selling pigs that they lose sight of their customers’ needs. This quickly becomes apparent during the debrief, and because the participants have a shared experience using a determined common language, it immediately loops them back to the lessons of the experience.


Unlike lecture-based training, an experiential learning event like this has the power to resonate with a team for a significant period of time. Sharing a common language makes it possible to make quick course corrections along the way. For example, when one team member recognizes that they might not be putting the needs of the customer first, and they announce, “Stop buying pigs!”, they can shift their focus back to the intended goal.

Everybody on the team knows what the phrase means because they also learned the same lesson on a visceral level. They experienced a failure once in the game, and they don’t want to repeat it in real life with actual customers. Having this common language also allows the team to convey the concept of customer centricity succinctly without having to use more time-consuming communication approaches.

Rattlesnake Canyon is just one example of how the power of a common language can impact customer relationships. Every experiential learning event brings teams together in a way that other types of training cannot. By sharing in the successes and failures of the game and, most important, linking the lessons learned to the workplace, participants leave with a common language they can draw from in the future. They also gain a renewed commitment to improving performance on the job and building customer centric relationships.


Since 1991, John has acquired extensive experience in the design and delivery of a diverse portfolio of programs. In addition to his executive responsibilities as President of Leadership and Learning Events, John is considered a valued partner to many executive teams. His insight and experience enable him to effectively diagnose, design, and implement complex culture change initiatives in a collaborative and engaging manner. Moreover, John’s experience in global implementations allows him to draw from a deep well of history to create unique and customized solutions. John’s passion for developing people makes him a sought after speaker, partner and coach and is evident in the high praise he receives from clients.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Customer Centricity Influences Business Decisions

“Customer centricity” has become a buzzword in certain corporate circles-and lots of businesses like to claim that they subscribe to a customer centric culture. But customer centricity is more than just a marketing tactic. To become a truly customer centric company, the entire company culture must align with putting the customer first-whether customer-facing or non-customer-facing. The customer must be at the center of all decisions made, all day long.

So what does customer centricity, when done right, really look like? Draw inspiration from these three real-world examples from leading organizations that put the customer front and center.

1. Taking a Stand for Both Employees and Customers

In the last few years, there have been a number of retailers making a pretty bold move on the most important retail shopping day of the year: keeping their doors shut on Thanksgiving Day and even Black Friday. At first glance, this move seems to benefit these organizations’ employees most, but when it comes to customer centricity, the way you treat your customers and the way you treat your employees are closely connected. Treating front-line employees well is definitely a customer centric move, because creating a culture of high employee engagement will lead to greater customer satisfaction.

Closing doors on a holiday may not work for every retail business, but for the right organization, one that focuses on delivering quality experiences and sending a message of corporate responsibility, it’s an incredibly smart move. These companies know that customers would expect them to treat employees with dignity and respect, even if it costs the company some revenue. By aligning with their customers’ values, closing on these busy shopping days is a win-win and generates positive social reactions.

Learn how to create the best possible customer experience.

2. Creating Memories for Customers

For many organizations, selling a product isn’t necessarily the core mission or vision for the company; it’s the experience that the company brings to its customers. They are in the business of creating memories, and they do this through a complete dedication to providing a customer centric experience.

What does this look like in a real organization? At all times, every single employee is tasked with making visitors or customers feel welcome and comfortable, whether these tasks are in their job description or not. In fact, all employees should be proactive, not reactive, about customer service. For example, employees are encouraged to approach customers who look confused in order to offer assistance, instead of waiting for them to ask for help. Companies that consistently deliver wow-worthy experiences recognize that executing on the “little” details and creating memorable micro-moments contribute to the overall customer experience. You may never know the impact that keeping every single company surface sparkling clean can have on a customer or visitor—but they will.

To enhance the experience you deliver to customers, you must consider everything your organization does from the customer’s perspective. From tiny decisions (changing from staples to paper clips on billing statements) to large ones (changing your billing structure entirely), you can bet that consumers have an opinion—and you should know their opinion.

3. Using the Customer to Fuel Product Decisions

If you take a look at companies that are updating their products, particularly in the software space, you’ll see a shift away from “features for the sake of features” to something far more inspirational: the customer. Companies can gather more feedback more easily than ever before—and smart ones put it to good use. These organizations pull out actionable themes and questions in customer feedback, such as:

  • Is a product easy to use and intuitive?
  • Does bad design stand in the way of otherwise stellar performance?
  • Is the product top-notch quality?

Instead of chasing the competition, these organizations are chasing their customers’ wish lists—which results in better results for everyone. To accomplish this, the smartest of organizations take the customer centric mission organization-wide. They don’t just ask product development managers to think about product features—they ask finance teams how they too can incorporate user feedback, they ask sales reps for more front-line input, and they focus executives’ initiatives on the same theme. This united approach builds a truly customer centric product and proactive organizational culture.


As Executive Vice President Global Performance, Paul has extensive experience in consultation, design, and delivery of programs over his 20 year career with Eagle’s Flight. Through his genuine personable approach, Paul is not only a trusted advisor but also a valued partner to his clients; he works seamlessly to ensure that Eagle’s Flight solutions are aligned to their needs and desired outcomes. As a result, Paul is the account executive for Eagle’s Flight largest account. Many of his clients are multi-year accounts from multinational, Fortune 500 companies.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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No matter how small or large your organization is, you want employees to approach company events with enthusiasm, not with groans and complaints. Whether the purpose of the gathering is to share information, celebrate a recent success, or plan for the next big thing, it doesn’t have to be a boring day. Plan ahead in order to find an innovative way to make your event exciting, inspiring, and engaging. Of course, whatever you do must be appropriate for the content being delivered, so tailor the event accordingly.

If you need some concepts to get the wheels turning, consider these three company event ideas as you prepare for the next year:

1. Sssh…Can You Keep a Secret?

The buildup to an event can be just as important as the function itself. If you are planning a big reveal (or even a small but exciting one), use a secret-society theme and drop clues in the weeks and months leading up to the event. You can use a range of tactics to pique curiosity and get employees genuinely interested in attending the event. These include:

  • Start a company-wide “secret society” that makes everybody feel part of something special.
  • Send customized invitations to the event.
  • Create associated symbols and language unique to the group.
  • Keep the location a secret until shortly before the event.
  • Use clues in your email communications to share just enough information to pique interest.
  • Use elements of ceremony at the event to keep the theme going.

By cloaking the event in mystery while sharing key pieces of information, attendees will show up ready to participate and eager to learn what all the buzz is about. There are countless other conference theme ideas you can employ if this one isn’t appropriate for your event. No matter what you decide, a fully immersive event will always be more memorable than a conventional conference.

2. Think Outside the Presentation Box

Be bold. Ban slide-based presentations. It may seem like a simple rule, but by forcing presenters to deliver their content in a different way, everybody benefits. Attendees get to see different presentation styles that stave off information fatigue, and presenters get to be creative with their delivery. Some ideas to consider are:

  • Interviews
  • TED-style talks
  • Demonstrations
  • Interactive games
  • Experiential learning
  • Hands-on sessions
  • Panel discussions

You can give presenters these types of alternative ideas or, for a truly surprising event, allow them to use their own creativity to make their presentations captivating. This approach is great for leaders in development to try new communication methods and engage their employees in new ways.

3. Reverse the Roles in an “Unconference”

Sometimes a complete role reversal will bring new topics to light. At least that’s what Silicon Valley entrepreneurs believe when they organize an “unconference.” Based on the theory that the audience collectively has as much or more expertise than a group of presenters, the roles of attendee and conference planner are reversed. In an unconference, you can expect:

  • A loosely structured meeting that evolves based on participant feedback
  • An agenda that is created by participants at the start of the meeting
  • Participant-generated topics
  • Freedom to start a new discussion group at any time
  • More open discussions and fewer (or no) single presenters

An unconference has the potential to spark discussions that might not ever occur in a traditionally structured conference. If you are striving to achieve a culture of innovation, this approach might be right for your organization.

These are just a few company event ideas that can make your next gathering unforgettable. What other company event ideas are you considering for 2017?


Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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More and more businesses are adding experiential learning to their corporate training strategies for one important reason: It works. It only takes one successful training event to convince both decision-makers and participants that this valuable learning approach results in higher levels of engagement, a deeper understanding of the concepts being taught, and, most important, better performance on the job.

A successful experiential learning event has eight key elements:

  1. An immersive experience that takes participants to another world
  2. A theme that is deliberately far removed from the reality of the workplace
  3. A challenge that is captivating and fun
  4. An experience that poses an exact metaphor for a real-world problem
  5. Results that are a direct reflection of the team’s behavior
  6. Compression of time to demonstrate how behavioral change impacts results
  7. A debrief that highlights the principles learned during the experience
  8. Conviction among participants to change behavior and improve performance

The #1 Element You Can't Miss in Training with Experiential LearningAlthough it is not the first item in this list, a highly relevant debrief is the single most important element in achieving the goals of experiential learning. Without it, participants enjoyed a fun and engaging experience, and they probably learned something new, but they won’t necessarily understand how the experience is relevant to their job.

Watch the video: Understanding & Integrating Experiential Learning Into Your Existing Initiatives


Without clearly linking the experience to the reality of the workplace, it’s not fair to expect participants to change their behavior when they return to their jobs. They might have mastered the art of problem-solving in the context of a spy game, but that doesn’t mean they will know how to apply that new knowledge to improving processes at work. The key is to make this connection while participants are still excited about the experience.

An experienced facilitator will guide the group through a discussion that links two important concepts:

  • How to win in the game
  • How to win at work

Having just tried to win a challenge or solve a puzzle, they will desperately want to know how they performed compared to other teams and what they could have done differently to achieve the best possible results. This is the facilitator’s chance to spark a discussion about the various behaviors that lead to a win in the game and to clearly outline the key learning concepts.

After the group understands all of the elements that are critical to success in the game, it’s time to link the experience to reality by discussing how the key concepts that it just outlined will also help it win at work. This is the most important component of experiential learning, because it enables participants to translate their excitement about winning the game into conviction about improving performance at work.

The facilitator guides the conversation and allows participants to connect these dots on their own. In order to do this, the facilitator must have a deep understanding of the daily challenges that participants face, the dynamics between team members, and the common processes in the organization.

Although it is one of the last steps of an experiential learning training session, the debrief is arguably the most critical. Of course, the debrief relies on all of the steps that happen before it, so the experience itself must also be well-executed. Working with a seasoned experiential learning provider will ensure that all elements of the experience, from creating the theme through facilitating a meaningful debrief, will provide the necessary level of expertise and positively impact the participants when they return to their jobs.


Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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Providing organizational training that stays with participants long after they’ve consumed the learning material is a tough challenge. When you’re implementing traditional training methods-like lectures or presentations-how can you guarantee that your trainees are even listening? That’s the beauty of experience-based organizational training-it fully immerses participants for learning and behavior change that stays with them long after the training ends. Here are the three big reasons why experiences-and, in particular, experiential learning-are the best organizational training tools for learning that sticks.

Want Organizational Training to Stick Make It an Experience1. Participants Practice While They Learn

At its heart, experiential learning is “learning by doing.” Instead of being taught skills through traditional organizational training methods like passive presentations and then leaving participants to practice those skills on their own time, experiential learning combines skills learning and skills practice in one powerful training session. When we learn by doing, we retain up to 75% of the information we learn. Compare that to retention rates as low as 5% when we learn through lecture-based presentations.

Part of the reason that experience-based experiential learning is so effective is that it allows participants to immediately see the direct correlations between actions and results. Experiential learning takes the guesswork out of the action–consequence equation, leaving participants feeling confident that their newly acquired skills and behaviors will have a direct impact on their work. This also helps build personal conviction about the value of changing behaviors, because participants have seen and experienced firsthand the impact of certain behavior change.

2. Experience-Based Organizational Training Gets Participants Excited and Fully Immersed

One of the reasons why traditional organizational training methods don’t really stick is that they are not engaging or exciting. Lectures or PowerPoint presentations simply require passive participation, which means those lessons can go in one ear and out the other. Experience-based learning, however, requires full, active participation on the part of all trainees. Participants are up and moving, engaged in the experience at hand, instead of falling asleep in their seats!

Experiential learning takes it a step further by theming the learning experiences. The benefit of theming the training experience is twofold. First, themed experiences are simply more exciting than straight simulations or reenactments of workplace scenarios: amping up the fun of your organizational training event and keeping the energy high. Second, theming the training experience provides a safe environment for participants to take risks and learn from failure, which they would be less inclined to do in a training session that obviously mimics a real-world work scenario. Nobody wants to risk failure at work!

3. The Debrief Connects the Dots

For experiential learning to really stick, your organizational training must include a debrief, wherein the skills learned and consequences affected all come together. During the debrief, a facilitator reveals the themed training’s metaphor and how it relates to participants’ daily job responsibilities. The facilitator ensures that participants truly understand the outcomes and connections of the experience so that they can effectively apply their new skills and learning on the job. Conviction crystallizes during the debrief; it provides an “a-ha” moment for the participants, as it clearly links the experience with how to improve on-the-job performance.

Organizational training isn’t just about learning new information; it’s about instilling lasting behavior change. Immersive training experiences increase the chances that your training will actually be retained, making a lasting impact on your employees’ performance.


As Chief Operating Officer, Sue’s extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle’s Flight.

Re-blogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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In two recent Eagle’s Flight blog posts, we discussed the experiential learning spectrum and eight essential component that make experiential learning effective. The first post identifies experiential learning as a fun and engaging activity that teaches new skills or concepts that can be applied in the real world:

Linking Experiential Learning to Business RelevanceExperiential learning falls in the middle of the spectrum. It has the benefits of fun and engaging activities but also provides some of the value that simulations offer in their realism. The key to successful experiential learning is to create a scenario that mirrors a common workplace situation but does not mimic it exactly.

The second post breaks down the many factors that contribute to a successful experiential learning event. The last in this list-a results-based debrief-is a critical element:

All of the fun, immersive, engaging activities in an experiential learning event culminate in a debrief that links the experience to the real world. The behavior that caused a desirable effect and led to a successful result can be applied on the job. Without this link, participants might have had a fun day where they learned something new, but they don’t know what to do with that new knowledge. The debrief is the opportunity to tie it all together.

This article discusses the crux of experiential learning: linking the engaging learning activity to business relevance in order to produce lasting results in the workplace.


Linking experiential learning to business relevance allows employees to translate their new skills to the job, but you can’t expect participants to connect these dots on their own. An experienced facilitator who has become familiar with the business is responsible for making the learning experience relevant to the business.

The first step in an experiential learning event is for the facilitator to explain the activity and define the goals, expectations, and criteria for success. For example, the goal of the activity might be for the group to solve a series of crimes as quickly as possible. The facilitator explains that the team will be given a series of clues and that the team must work together to prioritize and organize the information in order to find the culprits before time runs out.

The group then completes the activity while the facilitator introduces new skills along the way. These helpful tips allow the teams to stay focused and make faster decisions, ultimately leading to the end goal: The crimes are solved!

After the experience is over, the facilitator describes all the steps and skills necessary to win the challenge. He or she highlights the tactics used by the most successful teams and provides feedback about the best possible solutions. Because everybody in the room just shared the same experience and faced the same challenges, they are eager to learn how they did in comparison to others and how they could have done better. The next step is to discuss how those same new concepts and skills can be applied to similar scenarios at work.

Of course, you don’t typically have to solve murder mysteries in the office, but an immersive experience for your team of detectives can help the entire team learn how to run meetings more effectively. By going through the experience of working together to quickly come to decisions in a high-pressure environment with tight deadlines, participants can see how the same skills can be applied on the job. The context might be different, but the core concepts and all of the skills that the group just practiced together can be successfully applied to make meetings more effective.

However, without a skillful facilitator to lead the debrief, this important linkage could be lost on the group. Because experiential learning is so immersive and engaging, participants can be caught up in the excitement of the game. In fact, that’s the whole point: to take them out of their usual mindset and teach new skills while having fun. The goal is to harness this excitement and get participants to apply it at work.


Connecting the experience to real life is an essential component of the learning event, and there are several reasons why this important step should not be skipped:

  • Translating theory to practice – As mentioned above, participants must be explicitly shown how what they learn can be applied on the job so that they can successfully apply their new skills in the real world.
  • Producing measurable results – The whole point of experiential learning is to produce results in the workplace. Whether you want to be more productive or create a culture of customer centricity it is important to define metrics and measure the results. If participants don’t know what the expectations are, you can’t assume that they will succeed.
  • Improving ROI – Experiential learning is fun, but at the end of the day, you need to know that it was worth the investment. Linking the event to business relevance and following up with measurement to track behavior change will allow you to maximize the return on the investment.

Because linking the learning event to business relevance is such an important piece of the puzzle, it’s critical to work with an experienced facilitator who takes the time to learn about your specific business challenges. Unless he or she can speak the same language as the participants, he or she will not be able to make the strong connections that are necessary for achieving long-term behavior change in the workplace.


Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.

Reblogged from Eagle’s Flight.

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In recent years, there seems to have been a widening gap in the corporate training world between expectations and reality. According to a Deloitte survey published in 2015, managers claimed that the area of learning and development was more important than ever and yet, at the same time, they admit that they’ve become even less prepared to meet learning and development needs.

Let’s make 2017 the year to turn things around. Here are four promising trends surrounding the measurement and assessment of corporate training program that can help get your company on the right track:

Measuring Corporate Training Programs1. Focus on Real Needs, First

Forget the bells and whistles of fancy corporate training programs for a moment, because it’s time to get back to basics which means deciding what your training needs really are. This seems like a crucial step in training development, but it’s one that’s often overlooked. Companies may chase after vendor-supplied corporate training programs that will claim to solve all of their problems (without understanding what those problems are), or they rely on the outdated in-house training they’ve always used—even if needs have shifted.

2017 will see a renewed effort to match up corporate training programs with real, demonstrated needs, rather than just going through the motions. This means taking stock of the company’s current realities by meeting with key leadership one on one and identifying what’s enabling your current level of success and what’s blocking you from going even higher.


2. Defining a Baseline for Measurement

In the same vein as the above, corporate training programs need to shift focus from what goes on during training to what happens before it begins. When it comes to measurement, that means clearly defining what you will measure as a result of the training. And, obviously, to measure improvement, you must first measure where you are.

In 2017, it’s time to get granular. Once you’ve established an understanding of your company’s “big picture” current reality, use measurement tools—like organizational surveys—to develop tangible numbers and specifics that speak to that reality. Developing a clear, specific baseline results in well-designed, responsive corporate training programs that make measuring ROI a whole lot easier.

3. Develop On-Demand Learning—and Measurement

The use of cutting-edge technology in corporate training programs has been on the rise for years. While nothing can replace immersive, experiential learning, there is most definitely a place for technology in training, especially as a learning retention tool.

Today’s workers—which is now composed of more than 53 million millennials—crave on-demand learning at their fingertips. To meet this craving, companies should look into developing retention programs that take the form of apps, which can work on computers and mobile phones and are fun, short, and effective. With up to 70 percent of training being lost to learning decay within just one week, easy-to-use and addictively engaging retention activities should help stop up the learning leak.

Plus, it’s easier and faster to track learning gains through technology. While employees are engaging in learning and retention games on their phones, companies are able to collect real-time data on learning improvements to measure progress. This allows them to make quicker decisions about changes to their corporate training programs or retention strategies. Watch for more of a focus not just on tech and learning but also on tech and measurement in 2017.

4. Bringing Training and Business Strategy Together

Perhaps the biggest trend in 2017 will be a continuation of the recent push to marry HR direction and business strategy—and measurement will play a huge role. As competition for highly skilled employees remains high, training and retaining top talent become just as much a strategic initiative as an HR one. Thus, determining ROI becomes more important than ever, as it’s an indication of whether your training is working or not, yes, but it’s also an indication of whether or not a company is retaining its competitive edge.

2017 can also be the year that companies dig deeper with assessments. In addition to more traditional assessment and measurement tactics like surveys and tests, companies should also explore how assessments can help prime the leadership pipeline—which should be a major strategic initiative for any forward-thinking organization. Companies can use post-training assessments to discover those employees who have made the largest learning gains, which is an impressive feat which higher-ups should take notice of. Plus, assessments of high performers before training can be used to identify the common competencies that a company’s highest performers share. Then, training can be designed to deliver those competencies, thus ensuring a pipeline of top talent ready to step into leadership roles when they are needed.

A clear strategy for measuring results is crucial to any successful corporate training program. What trends in measurement do you think we’ll see—or need to see—in 2017?


Michael’s singular focus is rooted in staying connected to learners the moment they step out of the classroom and back into their busy jobs. As SVP of Learning Performance, Michael brings business savvy depth to ensuring learning is reinforced, applied and is optimally aligned to delivering on strategic objectives. His proven track record in creating measurement frameworks and reinforcement solutions that add value to the learner, leaders and executive sponsors is highly valued across the spectrum of our client engagements.

Reblogged from Eagles’s Flight.

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