Tag Archives: corporate training

What we can learn about Corporate Training Programs from The King’s Speech

The King had a speech deficiency.  He spoke poorly.  He stammered.  Badly.  He needed to speak well.  His people needed him to speak well.  And he took the steps (the many, many hours of steps!) to learn how to speak better.  And then, he spoke better.  Maybe not perfectly – but noticeably better.

The King and his Coach

Yes, I’m a little behind in my movie watching.  I just watched The King’s Speech.  Winner of four Oscars, including best picture and best actor, it is the touching story of one man’s bold and consistent attempts to overcome a speech deficiency.  The man happened to be the King.  And, after trying a plethora of speech therapists and speech coaches, his wife finally dragged him to a rather strange, but successful, speech therapist/coach.

But, notice the obvious.  The King did not go to one weekend seminar, or one month’s worth of classes, and then master this skill.  His new-found teacher, Lionel Logue, was at his side time and time and time again.  With drills, and rehearsals, and coaxing, and coaching, and encouraging, and correcting, over and over and over again.

And in the hour of his most important speech, at the beginning of the Second World War, the King ordered “Get me Logue.”

Yes, I read up on the facts behind the movie, and yes, the film makers took some dramatic liberties and truncated some of the chronology.  But the real story makes the same point:  Logue worked with, very closely with!, the King, for a long period of years – many years!

In other words, a weekend seminar has little chance (let’s make that practically no chance) to bring about the changes and learning needed for so many jobs.  Successful training is not a one-day-seminar thing.

I occasionally read an article that paints a pretty dismal picture of the value of corporate training – some form of the “training doesn’t work” argument.  But, we already all know this.  Deep in our hearts, we know that it takes a rare (very rare!) pupil to go to a seminar, or read a book, and then successfully implement all of its recommended job-improvement changes.  It takes reinforcement, repetition, constant reminding, refreshers, and one-on-one coaching for the mere mortals among us.

Oh, the weekend seminars, the day long workshops, can be great starting places.  And the good leader/manager can identify the ones who are “good targets” for the next steps by the way they “return” from such training opportunities.  But it is in the next steps that the needed improvement comes.

And those steps must be repeated, over a long haul.

Corporate training does not fail.  Corporate training without a lot – a whole lot! – of targeted follow-up fails.

The King had a speech deficiency.  He spoke poorly.  He stammered.  Badly.  He needed to speak well.  His people needed him to speak well.  And he took the steps (the many, many hours of steps!) to learn how to speak better.  And then, he spoke better.  Maybe not perfectly – but noticeably better.

It took many, many hours of coaching (years!) for the King to get better.  I suspect there are things we all need to work on for many, many hours — even years.  That’s one lesson I got from watching The King’s Speech.


As they introduced the Best Picture nominees, the Academy Awards played the words of the King’s speech behind the full montage.  Here it is.  A terrific montage!

A Quick Shot of Valuable Content

Here Are Some Thoughts On The Value Of Listening To A Book Synopsis…

Earlier this week, I presented a synopsis of a book that the audience was especially interested in.  A couple of people had read the book.  One guy (“guy” is the appropriate word to use – he was a character), leapt into/took over in the middle of the synopsis, and told his favorite story from the book – better than I could have told it, by far.  He was animated, enthused, riveting.  It was a great moment.

Later in the week, I presented another synopsis of a book to an audience of people who looked like they were serving detention duty at school.  (In fact, it was part of a mandatory training within an organization, and I think they did feel like they were serving a sentence they would have rather skipped).  The book was important, relevant to the training.  And they did not respond with anything like enthusiasm, or even interest.  (Not everybody in the room – but enough to notice).

So, I got to thinking.  I have studied presentation skills a very long time, and one element that is almost impossible to overcome is this:  an uninterested audience.  And, one element that is always close to magical – an audience that can’t wait to hear a presentation.

Guess which audience I would rather speak to?

All of that is the introduction to this post.  Here’s the real point:  Who is the audience for our book synopses?  These are available in live versions (Karl or I can come to your company or organization, and present them live), or, the shorter versions that we give at our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis and on-line for download into your MP3 player at 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

Here are two “audience members” that might really like, and benefit from, our synopses.

1.  Those who don’t have time to read, but wish they could keep up with the latest best-selling and best business books. You know how it happens.  Someone will ask you, “have you read _______?”  And you wish you had, but you simply have not had time.  Well, after listening to one of our synopses, you can discuss the book intelligently enough that you are not left out of the conversation.

2.  Those who have read the books. Like my audience member who “took over” a story, if you have read a book that we have presented, you feel in the know, and you feel empowered – like you are one of the “smart ones” in the room, and it validates your decision to have read the book.

And, let’s face it, we don’t always remember what we read until we are reminded.  Have you ever watched a movie (or a TV re-run), and enjoyed it all over again?  To hear a synopsis of a book you have already read reminds you why you liked it (or, why you disliked it!).

This much I know.  A few minutes spent with one of our book synopses is a really quick way to gain some valuable content, and/or some content reinforcement, that will better equip you to be a good business thinker and leader in this fast-paced age.