This morning I started listening to an Instagram live session with Andrew Huberman Ph.D. and Samer Hattar Ph.D. Andrew Huberman, who set the ground rules for their conversation, hosted it. The first of the ground rules was, “No acronyms, and if we do use any we need to explain what they are.” The second rule was based on a quote from a famous physicist (whose name I could not decipher), “When speaking to an audience assume zero knowledge and infinite intelligence.”
Those are two very important ground rules for all trainers to adopt. Law enforcement, like the military, seems to be in love with acronyms. There are a few problems with acronyms:
- Not everybody knows what the acronym means.
- They can mean different things to different people.
- Even if it were possible, most people do not want to interrupt and ask what that acronym means.
I enjoy listening to interviews with Huberman as well as Matthew Walker Ph.D., both of whom are brilliant and have important information to share and both of whom live by that adage of assuming the audience has zero knowledge and infinite intelligence. Regardless of the knowledge level of the interviewer, they both understand that the information is for the listening audience, not the interviewer. As a result they both explain terminology, principles and concepts so everyone can understand.
This is not “dumbing it down” for the audience. I hate that term as it implies the audience is dumb, or at least not as smart as the speaker. Just because an audience has no knowledge of a topic does not mean they are not intelligent. Assuming infinite intelligence demonstrates respect for the intelligence of the audience members and their ability to understand, learn and apply the information you are teaching.
If you cannot teach it in a way that makes it easy to understand, the problem is likely with you, not the audience. Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Two of the Guiding Principles of the Excellence in Training philosophy are directly aligned with the ground rules Huberman established. Those Guiding Principles are:
- It’s Not About You.
- You have not taught until they have learned.
The rule regarding no acronyms, and if you are going to use them be sure to explain them, also applies to codes for types of calls. The code your agency uses for a domestic, or officer needs assistance is not universal across all agencies. The code for, “What is your current location?” is not universal across all agencies. So, instead of using codes from your agency, just use common language to describe the call.
This may take some conscious effort on your part to change the language that you use, but your audiences will appreciate the effort and more easily understand your message.
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