Lots to Learn
Charlotte Preston, one of the industry's education experts, shares
the ins and outs of adult education
Adults learn better when they can relate education to their experiences
and apply their new knowledge to their daily lives. Charlotte Preston learned
these principles from her membership in the American Society of Association
Executives and has watched them come true in the education programs she
puts together to complement major trade shows.
The brainpower behind seminars at the AGTA GemFair, JCK International
Jewelry Shows, AGS Conclave, the Basel Fair and Professional Jeweler'sPrimeTime,
Preston always looks for opportunities to combine different learning styles
to keep attendees enthusiastic. She's learned to plan agendas that start
with simple concepts and move to more complex, specific issues. The more
pragmatic a presentation, the more memorable the information: a favorite
speaker, Cynthia Marcusson of Cynthia Reneé in Fallbrook, CA, brings
real clothing styles, fabric textures and color swatches to her seminars
on using fashion to sell jewelry. Preston also knows jewelers are more likely
to implement what they've learned at seminars when they carry away a checklist
for future reference.
Some sessions are obviously more successful than others. Presentations
incorporating theater have been wildly popular, Preston says. One presentation
that stands out in her mind is a live demonstration of role-playing techniques
used by employees at R.F. Moeller in St. Paul, MN. President Mark Moeller
accompanied the lively presentation with a lecture and slides. Controversial
topics are always a big draw, Preston says, especially when the speakers
on the topic are credible and there's a good dynamic among the commentators.
Unless they include a strong moderator, panels generally are not as effective
as other seminars because attendees often feel frustrated they can't delve
deeply into the topic.
With Touch the Future, a program at the JCK Show in Orlando that uses
walk-up "stations" to let retailers wander through the learning
process, Preston explores interactive learning. The display has been particularly
successful because jewelers spend their days walking around in their stores
and, therefore, learn better on their feet instead of sitting in conference
Learning by hands-on experience also helps retailers retain the knowledge,
something Preston first witnessed in an unusual way while working as publications
manager for the American Gem Society in the 1980s. "I was in charge
of disaster planning, and once a year a person from the fire department
would visit, set a fire in the parking lot and make each staff person put
out a fire with an extinguisher," she recalls. "When we physically
walk the body through something, the body then knows how to react in a time
of need. Similarly, when a person uses his or her body to learn a concept,
then it's more natural to remember that concept later."
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.