Joel Bennett is the king of participant engagement.

Sure, he’s a great facilitator. 

Joel’s funny, knowledgeable, and passionate about his work.

But Joel’s magic is what happens after he delivers a training session.

As he told me in a recent conversation, “If the session ends at 3pm, the work starts at 3:01.  Because the training doesn’t matter if they don’t do anything with it. If it doesn’t move the needle.

Joel has built a thriving consulting practice not by focusing on the content (though the content is great) but by focusing on the application of content.

In Joel’s mind, “I’m not being paid to deliver content, I’m paid to move the needle.”

And clients?  Clients love him for it.

Why wouldn’t they?  

Most stakeholders in the leadership team don’t care about training. 

Harsh, but true.

What they care about is impact. 

And if training gets them there, great. 

But training is a vehicle, not the product.

The holy grail of training has always been around ROI.

The way Joel sees it, good program design starts with desired impact. 

Let’s say you hear that a client is looking for a leadership program.  

You might be tempted to dive into content; “what do they want to learn?”  That’s not, however, starting with impact.  Instead, you might want to ask:

“What metric is the company wanting to improve?”  

Let’s say it’s employee retention.

Ok then. What needs to be true about leaders to improve that metric? 

In Joel’s case, it might be communication skills, building trust and managing conflict. (and, as Joel is quick to point out, it varies from client to client.)

Once you have the areas of improvement mapped out, then you can move into content design. Because now the content is linked to the new behaviors that are most likely to move the needle on the metric that matters most to the client.

Now we’re starting from impact.

But back to Joel. I said from the outset that Joel’s the king of participant engagement. He’s a master at helping participants transition from consumers of content to appliers of learning.

This is where the rubber hits the road. When we start from impact, the content doesn’t matter until it’s applied.

How so does Joel do it?  How does he consistently motivate cohort after cohort to put the learning into practice and start shifting behaviors?

I’ve identified a couple quick tips from our discussion below. You can access the full 20-minute interview recording and an easy access checklist for FREE here.

Joel’s top three tips for maximizing post-session engagement:

1. Context over content.
For every insight Joel shares in the room, there is a disproportionate amount of time spent in discussion around “So what?” and “Now what?” 

It’s not enough for them to write it down or even remember it.

They need to find the personal reason for wanting to put it into practice.

2. Pair Intention with Daily Practice.
A concept resonated? Great.

How do we now convert that into a behavior that we can practice daily?

We live in a world of “To Dos”. To Dos rarely move the needle.

And if the point of a leadership program is to move the needle on a business imperative, we need to create lasting behavior change, not one-off tasks.

3. Help people see the progress they’re making.
Someone once reminded me that – at a live sporting event – we don’t sit silently in the stands until a point is scored and then erupt in cheers. 

We’re providing support (or heckling) to the team throughout. 

Behavior change is a hard, typically isolating activity.

It’s a heck of a lot easier to stay the course when we feel seen, celebrated and supported throughout the journey.

Joel uses Actionable’s Habit Builder to monitor and support his participants.

He shares reports at weekly sessions demonstrating group progress. He connects people with accountability buddies to stay on track.

Joel’s standing out from the crowd by focusing on impact over content. His clients love the focus on their true objectives. His participants love the tangible measurement of progress and seemingly boundless support that Joel offers between sessions (in literally minutes of his time).

Joel uses the Actionable Playbook for maximizing adoption and impact in the room. 

Want a free copy of the checklist you can apply in your own sessions?  Access it, and a copy of the full version of my interview with Joel here.

Actionable is on a mission to help boutique consultancies scale their business by giving them the tools to prove and amplify their impact. If you’re interested in focusing on impact, we’d love to show you how we can help. Book a time to talk with us.

We can’t wait to meet you.