Curing the Curse of Knowledge in Training

Knowing When Trainees need a KISS.


In our last blog we discussed the Curse of Knowledge dilemma in training. Trainers often know too much. Since they can't remember what it was like NOT to know, they become ineffective at teaching others.

There's a big difference between knowing how to do something, and teaching someone else how to do something.

There are some proven methodologies in overcoming the curse of knowledge, but we're going to focus on the KISS principle in this blog post:

K-I-S-S = Keep It Simple, Stupid.

One of the biggest problems for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) when working as trainers is that they try to convey as much of their expertise as possible in the very short amount of time that they have been given. The only way they know how to do that is by lecturing. The result is that they deliver too much content for the time allotted, and simultaneously use one of the least effective training methodologies.

Instead, the trainers should focus on the few key things that the trainees must know* when they come out of the training session. Then they should build the meeting around those top learning items dividing up the time, and including practice time for the trainees – – keeping in mind that this isn't a time for the trainer to demonstrate his/her knowledge, but rather for the trainees to demonstrate theirs.

This is really hard for an SME to do since they have so much knowledge in reserve.

However, I recall a very good trainer (product educator) who previously taught Spanish to college students. She skillfully focused on specific training objectives for each meeting, and effectively used repetition and basic, but effective rewards and encouragement to achieve learning objectives. Trainers with better product knowledge were far less effective because they tried to cover too much material and did not include time for repetition and for learning activities.

So, lesson number 1 for Subject Matter Experts involved in training is to follow the KISS method.

-Art Johnson

Johnson Enterprises
480 249-4128
Social Media, Training, and Consulting

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*assuming that this is a PK – (product knowledge) training session designed to convey facts vs. a skills session.

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1 Response to Curing the Curse of Knowledge in Training

  1. Jeff Jones says:

    Or another way to say it is to refrain from trying to give folks a sip out of a fire hose.

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