What corporate trainers can learn from ESPN College Gameday.

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So… what do you think?” I asked.

 

Well,” deep breath, “it’s different than our other training.”

 

OK,” I said. I’m cool with different. “How is it different?

 

Umm, well. It’s funny. My team watched it and they were laughing. The images and stories made it easier to remember the material. It’s just… a lot different than all our other training.

 

Well, good. Corporate training doesn’t have to be boring.”

 

I know. I just have to check with my boss to see if we can make our corporate training fun.”

 

 

 

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When Kirk Herbstreit got the opportunity to join the ESPN College GameDay team, he prepared like the former college QB he was.

 

Tons of game tape.

Hundreds of notecards.

Posters with the top teams and their starting lineups – and their backups.

 

When time came for his audition, they had Lee Corso sit in.

 

Lee didn’t talk much football.

He was too busy connecting with the crowd.

He was making it fun to watch the show.

 

In the fantastic book on college football, The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, Herbstreit recalls: “I thought they had hired me to talk football. And I’m sitting next to Lee and I’ve got all this info in my head and Lee’s all about putting a hat on….

 

 

 

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Cover 2?

Inverted safeties?

3 Technique?

 

Who’s got time for that stuff? Who cares?

“I would just sit there and listen to him and he wouldn’t talk about anything…. But he had a way of relating to the crowd. He was an entertainer.”

 

The authors go on…

Corso’s single greatest accomplishment in broadcasting may well be the passing of that advice to generations of ESPN producers and on-air talent, especially the ex-coaches starting out in the business.

 

Entertainment,” said Corso. “Our show is entertainment. Football is just our vehicle.

 

 

As a leader involved in training your team, education is the goal.

Entertainment is just your vehicle.

 

Too often we round up our SME’s (Subject Matter Experts – think ex-coaches) and have them spew a bunch of knowledge. We slap it onto a Power Point, devise a few multiple choice questions, some fill-in-the-blanks, some drag-and-drops and export it into a SCORM-compliant file.

 

 

Done.

Not so fast, my friend…

 

 

That type of corporate training sucks.

No one likes it.

No one retains it.

And no one tells you about it because saying things like, “This corporate training was boring and sucky.” will get you fired.

 

Even when it’s an anonymous survey.

(Especially when it’s an anonymous survey.)

 

 

So why aren’t more corporate training modules fun and entertaining?

It’s hard work.

 

It’s not just knowing why behavior must change.

It’s not just knowing what information you want to share.

It’s not just knowing how the information will be retained.

 

 

You have to first think of the audience.

How to get their attention.

How to relate to them.

How to create some emotion.

 

On ESPN you see ex-coaches all the time rambling about the QB waggle or picking up the Mike.

 

Most viewers don’t know what they are talking about. These subject matter experts know the game, they just don’t know their audience.

 

Know what Lee Corso’s nickname is?

The Coach.

 

Corso coached for over 25 years.

(He also played QB and Cornerback at Florida State.)

 

He knows the X’s and O’s as well as anyone.

He also knows his audience.

 

Corporate training doesn’t have to be boring.

So don’t bother checking with your boss.

 

You can make your corporate training fun.

Your teammates – the ones you’re making it for – will love the difference.

 

 

 

 

 

Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training, consulting and eLearning firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry.

If you like college football and/or like to read, you’ll love The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian.

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