Want to train your employees better? Start your own radio call-in show.

All of us listen, learn, and even exist on our own unique, “frequency”. As if we are all tuning into stations on a radio dial, we prefer hearing things a certain way and most of us have trained ourselves to receive information based on what fits our style best. We form groups around these frequencies and seek out information that appeals to us in the way it is presented. The way we affect to the style of information delivery shapes our response and reaction to content. The news has certainly picked up on this, as has the internet. If any person wants to hear the news the way they want it… They change the station to the one that is more pleasing to them. We have all decidedly become masters of how we receive information and it matters less how important the information is than how it is presented.

This clearly carries great significance especially as we, in the truck-driver-training industry, decide how to best train the Millennial Generation, who have grown up in a world of choice and mastery of information. This often draws immediate negativity from trainers who are indignant about having to change their delivery because, “The content is the most important thing. If they want to learn this they [students] will tune into us.” But what I have come to realize is that before any real information can be interpreted by the receiver correctly, trainers must first determine whether their students are listening and appreciating what is essential to the purpose of our organizations. You have got to make them want to. You have got to find the, “hook”. I have recently taken my cue from the morning radio talk shows: Host a metaphorical call-in show around a topic of discussion for every topic I want to present to a group of entry-level drivers.

How does it work? Call in shows gage viewers reaction to presented information. They also show the host how many people are listening and interested. We are all used to the standard model of instruction: The teacher delivers the lecture, knowing all the things that are important, and delivers it at a pace that he/she feels most comfortable with. This is easier for the lecturer, they are setting the pace of the learning and they know how this pace should meet objectives. But what is interesting is that most lectures are only satisfactory in approaching about 1-in-6 people at a pace or frequency that is best received by the learner. The instructor continues the lecture without knowing who is bored and tuning out (because the pace is too slow or the tone/pitch is not pleasing), who is scrambling to stay up (best symbolized by a radio station on the edge of signal strength, fading in and out during the interview/monolog), and who is engaged perfectly at the right pace and the right timber to be learning throughout the lecture (target market/target region).

What I have learned to do is deliver a concept and ask for response: “What I am usually looking for in this situation is…” Then ask the student if they can come up with an idea about how to approach the situation, “What do you think?” I then, “Like it” or offer an alternative. Most of the time, I’ll admit, it doesn’t go well at first. I am scanning the market to see who is listening and what frequency works for them. I have to change my delivery and learn how my audience needs to hear what I am saying for maximum impact. The key is in the timing. Just like with a radio call-in show, the host knows how the show should proceed and what the correct answers are. Instructors have to remember that this process is NOT a fact-finding mission where we want to learn content from our students. We are instructors wanting to see who is tuning in and what frequency they are dialed into.

I test the radio call-in show model of instruction through, “formative assessment”. Assessment for learning is where instructors build the learning process as a team with their students, testing the process along the way to see if it is proceeding as planned. Without feedback (assessments) given at the right time (before attempting to present a new concept) we cannot know how the process is going to turn out. By sending out the message, “Call in and tell us what you think about…” we find out at the right time how we can impact our target audience better and keep them tuning in for more.

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