Dimitri Gielis and myself just got back from a busy week doing an Apex Evangelists 3-day Application Express training course for a client (unfortunately I can’t name who they are, or even their location, or even pictures because of the nature of the client!). I have to say that although preparation for training takes a lot of time and the training itself (including travelling) is often very tiring, it is also extremely enjoyable and very very rewarding (for us I mean…hopefully for the attendees too!).
One of the big issues we often face with the APEX training is that people are at different levels of experience, this was particular notable in this case because one person had been using APEX for a couple of years whilst another attendee had really only seen it a couple of days ago. So, we could either do some very basic training (and risk isolating/boring the person who had 2 years experience) or go more advanced (and risk isolating/boring the person who had little experience with APEX).
In the end, we tried to adapt the training onsite and day-by-day, based on the feedback and flow of questions we were getting from the attendees, rather than just following agenda we had pre-planned. This meant we didn’t get to cover every topic we’d hoped to (but the attendees still get copies of all the material), however it did mean we were able to concentrate more on the things that were more relevant to them.
This, I think, is one of the things that I am learning as a presenter. It is not purely about talking about/showing what you know…it is about discussing/showing things that the *other* person will find interesting and useful. There are a whole host of things that I could talk about that might interest me personally, but if they do not interest the other person…then they gain nothing from it.
We asked people to be brutally honest on the feedback forms we handed out, because my biggest ‘fear’ with presenting is that I walk out of it thinking that I’ve done a good job whilst the attendees sit there thinking that I’ve done a terrible job (or did a good job but they didn’t understand any of it). Fortunately the feedback we got was excellent (it’s always good to hear that people think you did a good job!), there were also a couple of comments (which we knew ourselves) that we just tried to cover too much material in the 3-days, when 5 days would have been more appropriate, but that we also managed to handle presenting that large amount of information in a accessible way.
I think what really helps to get the point about advanced topics over to people is when you can do live demos (which we really believe in doing), because you can talk about something for 40 slides in a Powerpoint presentation, or you can spend 5 minutes actually showing it live, whether it’s LDAP, BI Publisher Integration, Forms, Reports or even just some feature of the Application Builder Interface that the client has never used before.
It was a great week and we’d like to thank the client again for their hospitality and friendliness. I’ll leave you with a picture of the Best Lamb I have ever eaten in my life in a restaurant which unfortunately I can’t name either (because it would give away the location, which could give away the client!) –