I recently had a class where the students’ evaluations didn’t match my feelings and thoughts on the class. I’ve frequently had this experience where the students loved a class I hated, but this was the other way around — I thought things went pretty well; the evals suggested otherwise. People were polite, but clearly this custom-designed-at-the-last-minute-for-an-emergency-do-us-a-favor-client missed something. It would have been easy to dismiss the evals due to the poor preparation of the client, and also the (true) fact that the audience had not been preselected and targeted to the material. It would have been easier still to blame the content, the process, and even the environment — all of which I had very little control over.But… (there’s always a but).It’s my fault. I’M the one responsible, and especially in a two-day environment, it’s my job to connect with the audience in such a way that they leave with their needs met. Certainly there are lessons to be learned on the preparation end of things, but I’m talking about the up-in-front delivery aspect when all of that is in the book. It’s still my fault.Seth Godin sums it up pretty nicely — there’s another way to phrase it: Rule #1. If I’m trying to save face or explain away the experience, then it’s clearly not my fault. But if I want to reach my audience and provide them their needs, then it clearly is.
Don’t make excuses. Disconnect is the instructor/presenter’s fault. Find a way to meet the audience’s need(s).