I spend a lot of time facilitating privacy training. Whether it is directly for our clients or on behalf of the IAPP or their training partners, there are common elements to a successful educational event.
As you can imagine. privacy can be a very boring subject. Reviewing all those definitions, frameworks, laws, and regulations can put even the most ardent privacy advocate into a stupor. The challenge is how to keep the training interesting.
Tailor the content
Often I am in the position of presenting a slide deck that is set up for a general audience. This is often used for an audience that comes from a mix of organizations, a public training if you will. It is also a good foundation for training being provided when everyone is from the same company, a private training.
Private trainings, however, provide an opportunity to tailor the content to a organization’s policies and procedures. Taking the time to understand how the privacy program operates within a company allows me to make the general content more meaningful to the audience. I can discuss a particular topic and then talk about how the sponsoring company applies that topic. More on this later.
A similar approach can be taken for a public training. I always obtain a list of the training participants and the companies they represent before the training. This allows me to do some quick research on the companies and industries in which they participate. This allows me to provide examples for topics being covered that are relatable to the attendees.
One way to keep the presentation interesting is to tell stories that are relevant to the training. Often, this simply means keeping up with the ever changing privacy landscape and supplementing the presentation with the news of the day. This could be the story of a recent data breach, a new law or regulation being proposed, or an opinion expressed by a regulator.
The stories can also come from personal experience. I frequently relate stories about my family members’, often humorous, privacy adventures. (They all know everything I say about them.) I’ve been told this not only keeps the attention of the attendees, but also helps the attendees recall the topics being discussed.
One of the best way to keep training interesting is to have attendees initiate discussions. There are several benefits to this.
First, it allows the attendees to indicate what is interesting and meaningful to them. I can use this to further tailor the upcoming topics. Next, it allows attendees to tell stories to supplement mine.
Finally, it allows me to gauge how effectively I have conveyed my messages during the training. If I have done a good job of communicating, the conversation re-enforces the training. If there are some gaps, I can use the conversation to make clarifications.
Meeting corporate training goals
When I do a private training for an organization, I first discuss the goal of the training with my sponsor.
- Is the intent to provide a broad overview or privacy or how the company applies industry best practices?
- Is the goal to train attendees on privacy laws and regulations or how the organization complies with these requirements?
- How important is establishing a cross-departmental conversation versus focusing on individual department’s needs?
The answers to these questions will drive recommendations I make regarding the composition of the presentation and the attendees at each presentation session.
The ultimate way to make training effective is for it to be role-based. It allows for the content to be tailored to a specific job function including presentation of specific examples. Attendees of role-based training have, anecdotally, shared that they will more rapidly apply lessons learned that those who have taken a more generic training.
When preparing training, the ultimate goal is to make the attendees think about how they can apply the lessons learned to their daily responsibilities. For your investment in training to be beneficial, the instructor is knowledgeable, interesting, relatable, and (somewhat) entertaining.