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Whether it is Fireworks or Training content, everyone aims to make a memorable impact. When properly executed the audience will become fans regardless of the ‘price for admission’. Reflecting on a spectacular 4th of July show in Washington revealed some pyrotechnic secrets.

On July 3rd, My cousin Erinn married her sweetheart in Washington, DC.  It was an absolutely magical wedding with celebrity-like venues. (I’m glad I’m already married because it sets a very high standard!) Most of us stayed for the whole weekend to visit and to explore the Capital. On the 4th of July there were FOUR generations of us watching the fireworks together from the Iwo Jima Memorial ‘area’ in Arlington. The crowd was almost silent as they were absolutely mesmerized by the show.

I was awestruck by the display… Much later I pondered the similarities with training:


If you are a pyrotechnical entrepreneur, the 4th of July is not the time to ‘wing it’ : whether you are working for a small crowd or for hundreds of thousands of people watching the Fireworks from the Potomac River. The show started on time and completed ‘without a hitch’. For training, just like Fireworks, regardless of audience size, there has to be a well laid out plan for timing, teamwork and technology.


The Fireworks needed to be synchronized ‘just so’ in order to achieve the effects that were planned. The choreography was not only patriotic including lots of red, white & blue but it was also romantic: the Arlington crowd cheered when they saw a large red heart in the sky! (Erinn did your Dad arrange for that??) What can we learn from this? When you are planning your teaching or training ‘story’, all the technology needs to be properly synchronized and you have to ensure the ‘choreography’  (the charts, the exercises, the discussions…) is properly sequenced and smoothly laid out (with transitions between each of the steps so there are no gaps).


Many people  ‘camped’ out most of the day, despite the incredible heat in the Capital,  to secure a good seat for the 17 minute show. (That’s some ‘price of admission’ for a 17 minute show!) Everyone was satisfied… no one left disappointed. Why? Because it was well done and not overdone. That’s something to keep in mind when developing training: (when properly executed) short & sweet can have an even bigger impact. Yes, less can be more and it can be more memorable!

We all want loyal fans that will put their life on hold in order to see our *show*. (I always think of training as ‘showtime’: it has to be planned, choreographed & synchronized regardless of the length.) The pyrotechnic experts in Washington have this formula down pat. Think about these secrets the next time you design a training session.

Congratulations to Erinn & Ryan and Happy Holidays to all my American Friends and Relatives!


Images taken close to the Iwo Jimo Memorial, Arlington, Virginia, July 4th, 2010 by Gord Palin.