So, my 15 (in 24 days) year-old daughter absolutely LOVES Taylor Swift. According to her, Taylor Swift “always knows the right words to say.” (Ah, teen angst.) Anyway, as I got thinking about the brand that is Taylor Swift, I noticed some interesting parallels between Ms. Swift and a successful learning and development professional…
1. Taylor Swift knows her audience.
That girl knows who is buying her records. She knows it’s the girls out there just like my daughter; the ones who are experiencing the ups and downs of being young. She writes songs that not only express the message she’s compelled to share, but in a way that resonates with her fans.
As a trainer, you’ve gotta be (and STAY) relevant. Know who you’re working with. Make it real and meaningful for your participants. Consider your content, your method, and the timing and be certain that it works for your audience!
2. Taylor Swift communicates her point. Clearly.
If you’ve ever listened to her songs, it’s no mystery that Taylor Swift tends to “call out” those who have done her wrong. Now I’m no expert, but after listening to one of her CDs in the car with my daughter, it was pretty easy to interpret how that mean old John Mayer broke Taylor Swift’s heart.
Like I said before, consider your content. Does it make sense? Is it just what your audience needs…just when they need it? Are you using clear language, avoiding jargon, and including the appropriate people in your audience?
3. Taylor Swift can keep the crowd engaged.
Taylor Swift knows how to dazzle a crowd. I haven’t seen her perform live, but from what I’ve seen on TV, she can definitely work a room. Or an arena.
I always say, and I’m sure many of you will agree with me, that training is a bit of a stage event. I guess I like this comparison because I have a bit of a flair for the dramatic. If I went to a play where the actors were simply reading their scripts to me, I certainly wouldn’t be interested! Same goes for a learning event. Don’t read me a PowerPoint and tell me I’ve been trained. Let’s take it a step further: if you are still in the habit of standing in front of a room and doing all the talking, you’re doing it wrong. Simply put. There are times to present, and there are times to facilitate, and there are times to sit back and let your learners take charge. To lead a successful learning event, it’s critical to balance your methods! (See this helpful blog post from the experts at Langevin to read about the PAF model)
So, will Taylor Swift somehow read this, scrap her booming career as a pop (country? who knows?) sensation, and pursue a new path as, like, the most adorable. trainer. ever? Highly doubtful. Am I suggesting that you, fellow learning professional, should start writing melodic songs to perform during training classes and strut around your training room in a wardrobe of sparkly minidresses? Probably not (unless that sort of thing suits you). But you know what? Maybe the next time you hear a Taylor Swift song on the radio (which will probably happen about 13 seconds after you turn your radio on), you’ll think about how Taylor Swift gets her audience. And maybe…just maybe…you’ll find yourself thinking about how you can embody some of those engaging tendencies into your training program.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!