Essential Resource for Workshop Instructors from an American Express Training Manager (Interview)

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    Remberto “Rem” Jimenez is Manager of Global Sales Training & Effectiveness in the Global Merchant Services organization at American Express. Primarily, Rem supports over 300 sales professionals in North America, and consults with sales enablement and learning professionals across the greater organization on topics ranging from sales skill development, sales and reporting tools and resources, knowledge management, and course administration via the enterprise learning and content management system. When Rem is not at work, he is pursuing his Post Masters Certificate in Educational Technology at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Rem can be contacted via Linkedin.

    Q. Rem, thanks for making the time to share with our readers. Looking back at your career, was there a particular book that brought you to where you are today as a sales training manager?

    Recommended by American Express training manager, Remberto Jimenez

    One book that I found to be inspiring is McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers by Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie.

    This is an excellent book for anyone that is interested in teaching a class regardless of whether it is in a University, corporate, or any classroom environment. The book provides strategies to prepare the first time instructor and can easily serve as a guide for tenured teaching professionals.

    Q. Do tell us about the book and how it influenced your approach to corporate sales training.

    There are various nuggets of important information that can be obtained from this book. One in particular that I have found useful is a simple strategy to improve lectures.

    The authors start out this section of the book by asking the reader, in this case the instructor, to think about how students process lectures and what students are doing during a lecture. The authors go on to point out that “one of the factors determining students’ success in information processing is their ability to pay attention to the lecture and that the learner’s total capacity for attention may vary with the degree of activation or motivation.”

    This is a simple but poignant reminder that all lecturers should keep in mind when designing a lecture: How can we as instructors motivate the students interest in the topic? Are there activities that we can blend into the lecture to engage students and encourage the type of dialog that will further facilitate learning and knowledge construction?

    Too often instructors can easily focus on getting their points across because they are required to do so or there just simply isn’t enough time to allow for this type of dialog and interaction to occur. This book helped me to look at my classes in the corporate world and consider what else can I do to engage the learner and increase their participation in the formation of their own understanding of the topic.

    Q. Did you get to apply what you learned from the book into a real-life training initiative? If so, please describe the program and how that happened.

    Although it can sometime be difficult to manage, encouraging learners to ask questions throughout the presentation has enabled learners to consider new ideas or ask questions that they may not have asked had I not presented the opportunity.

    In sales, there is a phrase that I hear constantly: “Have you earned the right to move on?” This statement is in the context of whether a sales person has articulated the value of what they are selling before they are able to go on to the next step in the sales process.

    I look at this same statement from a training and learning perspective and ask: “Have I earned the right to move on to the next step in my presentation?” Have I articulated the necessary points of a slide or portion of my presentation sufficiently that the audience is comfortable enough that I can move on and continue? If I do not this, I may lose some people and they will easily become distracted or confused to the point that their interest dwindles even further. By taking these steps it has forced me to be more succinct in my communications and allow for my audience to ask questions.

    I also set the expectation that there is no such thing as a stupid question an that it is their responsibility to speak up if they do not understand. Although if you consider that everyone learns differently and that everyone has their own communication and learning preferences, some learners may not be comfortable speaking their thoughts in front of a large group. In this case, using tools like Microsoft Live Meeting, or WebEx allow additional modes of communication and participation through polling and chat functions that can foster a more interactive lecture. Again, there are also issues and constraints to the technology that exist, but with proper preparation and testing on the part of the instructor, these technologies and strategies can help to foster more interaction.

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