Last week, my guest lecture to a communication consulting class of graduate students at Purdue University was an energizing experience. Not only were they attentive and excellent contributors to my content, they also asked questions that helped me understand what the next generation of trainers are concerned with as they enter the job market or academia.
One important area of questioning was how the business has changed since I started. This told me that they are very much aware of the challenges of today’s job market for young professionals.
Some of their concerns addressed ethical issues which told me that students don’t want to make the unethical decisions that too many businesses have made and they have been exposed to by the media. This gave me a perfect excuse to discuss the importance of giving credit when you use ideas from others and the importance of avoiding plagiarism in writing or in exercises you conduct in seminars. Don’t just give a source for an activity; if you plan to use the same exact exercise that is someone else’s, ask permission or check on copyright before using it.
Since my son is on the communication faculty at Purdue, some of the class members had been students of his; they asked about joint programs and papers we have done. He did most of the writing and I did much of the leg work or used my past experiences that he could reference when he did not have experience in that area.
I was impressed with the preparation they had made for my presentation. They had visited my website, read my articles, and were ready with questions. My favorites were these, “What are rewards besides money?” “Do you avoid certain cities to do programs in?” and “What are major frustrations in being a consultant?”
Probably what should have been a little embarrassing was that at times my son remembered more about my business than I did. For example, one question was “What is the worst experience you have had in a training session?” I gave one example and Josh said, “Well, Dad, how about the seminar with the realtors?” He was right; it was far worse than the one I mentioned.
I had a group of 200 realtors for a three-hour seminar. The introducer began by telling that several would be leaving during my session to attend the president’s mother’s funeral. Then he said, “There has been a mix-up in the paper work for continuing education credit for this program. I was informed this morning that you will get no credit for this seminar. Here is Steve.” Twelve people left before I started speaking. Others were so angry that they would not pass the outlines down the row. And I had three hours with them!
I am very optimistic about our next generation of trainers if this graduate class is typical of the people entering the job market. I trust they received a reality check in their time spent with me. In addition to the energy they gave me, I received a Purdue Communication T-shirt in school colors. A win-win!
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively. See additional articles and resources at www.sboyd.com. To book Steve, call 800-727-6520 or email him through his website.