An interesting situation arose when the Board of Directors of the Professional Ski Instructors Association-Western Division approached me and asked if I would be willing to present a sexual harassment training to its employees during the annual early season training session. The employees, although not supervisors, stood in a position of power over the organization’s membership by being clinic leaders and examiners for certification and accreditation events. Having a clear understanding of what was appropriate and not appropriate behavior was necessary to maintain a high level of professionalism and assure positive experiences for the organization’s membership.  Additionally, the audience for the program consisted of ski and snowboard instructors whose training typically took place on the hill – outside and moving quickly. Keeping the audience’s attention during indoor training on a dry subject such as sexual harassment and discrimination was going to be a challenge.

The solution was creating an industry-specific presentation. With the assistance of Dan Stormer, a Pasadena, California attorney whose firm handles many employment litigation cases, we created a lively presentation that resonated with the audience. We used visuals that were directed to the types of activities in which the audience participated. Our examples were taken from real life situations that happen outdoors on the hill, during a clinic or exam. The result was smiles of acknowledgment and chuckles when faux pas was discussed. The audience left understanding – which is the KEY to making sure this type of training has an impact.

We broke down the program into five parts, and kept humor as part of the training, while clearly demonstrating the seriousness and very serious consequences associated with the topic.

“The sexual harassment program presented was engaging and informative. The organization of the program combined with the material tailored for the industry we work in made this a must see, easy to understand, done with practical examples and kept the audience engaged.” -Greg Lyons, President, Professional Ski Instructors of America-Western Division.

Immediately after the presentation, several members of the audience approached me and stated it was the best presentation they had seen on the topic.  Many in the audience are supervisors at their home resorts and have undergone mandatory sexual harassment training.

The most significant takeaway as a speaker was recognizing in advance the need to create a presentation that was tailored to the specific audience.  It’s easy to create a presentation on a topic and use it repeatedly. You can turn your presentation into a webinar and put it up for all to see. But, the most effective presentation and the one from which the audience will leave with the greatest understanding is one that is tailored specifically to them.

Leave your audience feeling they received value for the time spent.  Especially when their participation has been mandated by law or their employer, tailoring each presentation to the industry and making it relevant to the listener will keep the audience receptive during the presentation and leave them happy and well-educated.