A question that came up in a conversation with a fellow trainer was, “At what point is a trainer no longer relevant?” This is something I have given a great deal of thought to as I get older. At 63 years of age and having been retired for 15 years I have asked myself, “Am I still relevant?”
As I reflected on this question I came to the realization that I am asking the wrong question. The question is not whether I as a trainer am relevant or still relevant, it is whether the training I am delivering to a specific audience is relevant or still relevant.
As a trainer, I am only as relevant as my content. Is the content relevant or still to the audience I am teaching that day? Am I trying to force feed a presentation I normally deliver to Audience A to Audience B when it is not relevant to them? Is the content old and no longer applicable? Am I teaching ‘timeless principles’, but unable to teach them in a way that is applicable to a modern audience? Are the stories, examples, pictures and videos in the presentation relevant to the audience? Can I tell the same story to different audiences, but tell it in a way that makes it relevant to them, to their circumstances, their challenges and their lives?
This goes back to one of the Three Guiding Principles of my Excellence in Training program, “It is not about me?” It is not me as the trainer. It has to be about the people I have the privilege and honour of teaching and training. As Nancy Duarte points out in her book Resonate and in a Harvard Business Review publication she wrote, “You are not the hero. You need to make the audience the hero. Your job is to be the wise and humble mentor to the heroes.”
Understanding it is not about us and striving to make the audience the hero will help keep the focus on the content and the delivery of the material. If you can do that, it will help ensure that both the material and way in which it is delivered are relevant to the audience. Will you miss the mark sometimes? Yes. When you do, make sure you learn from the experience, grow from the experience and ensure you do not repeat the same mistake.
At the point your content and delivery are no longer relevant, you are no longer relevant and it is time to update or step away.
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