I’ve just finished back to back presenting gigs for my long standing client BPP Professional Education. Yesterday in London and today in Manchester I ran the Settlement Agreement Masterclass.
Now, I don’t want anyone to be under any illusion that professional training is in any way glamorous. I left my house at 6:45 yesterday morning and I will land back there at 8:15 tonight. I’ve traveled 500 miles (give or take). I’ve been on my feet for 12 hours. I’ve missed 2 consecutive bedtimes with my children which means I will get the cold shoulder from at least one, if not both, of them tomorrow. I’m not asking you to get the violins out, but just don’t think it’s a walk in the park – that’s all.
Nor, in my case at least, is professional training hugely lucrative. Certain topics lend themselves to repeating the same structure and materials and delivering a finely tuned, slick and fully interactive and engaging session over and over again, which can turn out to be a money spinner for those who are able to make a career of it. Sadly (for me at least), employment law is not one of those topics – because the Government, our domestic courts and the European Courts keep moving the bloody goalposts. Course materials for employment law courses invariably require updating every few months and that impacts on the structure of the courses, and the amount of preparation required in advance of each session.
Add to that the diversity of delegates one welcomes on to a public course and there’s not a cat in hell’s chance of running an employment law course to the same structure, format and timings time and time again.
So, I ran the same course yesterday and today. I had the same materials and the same knowledge in my head both days. But the 2 courses were totally different. The mix of delegates was challenging. How do I make the course meet the learning objectives of a trainee solicitor and also the corporate partner sitting next to them? How do I make sure that the single HR manager in the room doesn’t feel out-lawyered? What, in the name of all that is holy, can I teach employment practitioners who have been doing this job longer than I have?
Well, I spend each day trying my hardest to empathise with each delegate and involve everyone in the dialogue around the subject matter. It’s a fine line between engaging with delegates and picking on the ones who would rather be left alone. I need to allow discussion to flow freely but rein in the tangents and stop the hijackers. I must never, ever commit the cardinal sin of being late for lunch, lest the venue have run out of buffet. Most importantly though, I will always give my opinion about the subject matter and encourage others to HAVE an opinion about the subject matter.
Why do I do it?
For those fleeting moments where a delegate comes up at the end of the day and says that the course has convinced them that they definitely want to practise employment law. Or an HR professional tells me they didn’t feel out-lawyered. Or I take a sneaky peek at the feedback forms and delegates have taken the time to write nice things about the course that I worked so hard to make relevant and interesting, and my delivery of it.
Like I always say – opinions matter. They matter to me. And that is why I teach.
Also on this topic – “Wear Sunscreen – or, Why I Teach”