Imagine this…

You’ve just taken some great training. They had great slides, videos and exercises. You brought back all your copious notes and handouts. The instructors convinced you that you want to implement the change…

…but the clock is ticking. A deadline is approaching. THE PRESSURE IS ON!

So what happens?  

You revert back to the old way of doing things!

Does this sound familiar? Does this ever happen to your students?


Jay Cross, a Training Expert, says:

“Performance Support (PS) was founded on the premise that providing information to a worker when it’s needed is generally preferable to having the worker memorize it in advance.”

In his article he makes a case for electronic Performance Support. It is a great discussion, full of good ideas, but you don’t have time for that. The essence of Performance Support is this:

  1. You and your clients are in a small business world and can’t afford to build electronic assistance into your business applications.
  2. You don’t want to have your students memorize your content (facts, processes, instructions…) in order for them to be successful.

So, what do the professional educators (trainers, teachers) do?

They cheat!


One of the best techniques I use in designing a lecture, workshop or seminar is to first think about what supporting material I will be handing out.  Gone are the days when all the charts are printed and handed out. Instead the type of supporting material that I prefer to print takes the form of a cheat sheet:  either a conceptual cheat sheet or  instructional cheat sheet.

Wikipedia’s definition of a cheat sheet is very similar to how defines a cheat sheet, 

“…a reference tool that provides simple, brief instructions for accomplishing a specific task.”


By assembling cheat sheet YOU will learn how to simplify your thoughts and ideas and break them up into components that are understandable: bite size chunks. (Your students crave bite size chunks!)

Don’t you remember when your chemistry professor announced you could bring one piece of paper into the exam? What happened? You went through all your notes & text books and decided what was the most important information and you wrote it out on a piece of paper: your initial cheat sheet. Did you ever get all the important information on that sheet in the first go around? Of course not! You summarized and summarized and summarized… You get the picture… You learned material in the process. (That professor was pretty sneaky!)

So the secret is the cheat sheet is really for YOU: the process of pulling one together will make it much easier for you to design your slides and communicate your material.


Awhile back, we needed to introduce a new pricing method to Sales Reps. One of the challenges was that there were several different options within the new pricing method. In order to compare and contrast the options, we designed a cheat sheet in a matrix format. Not only did this become the primary handout for the session but it also became a ‘checklist’ to ensure we, the instructors, explained the detail behind the summarized points. Many Sales Reps carried around this summary and referred to before and during sales calls. Our cheat sheet worked so well that other regions in North America adopted it.

Why did this work so well? Because a lot of information was summarized. We knew the Sales Reps needed to recommend an option to their customers so we netted out and compared the options. And after awhile, the Sales Reps didn’t need the cheat sheet. But initially, it made ALL the difference!


So, the next time you pull together a session. Consider using a cheat sheet it will:

  • Help you NET OUT the most important concepts and material
  • Provide a ‘checklist’ as you cover material
  • Give your students a ‘leg up’ in applying what they learned back on the job

Now, if you are wondering HOW to design your performance support (aka cheat sheets), go to the right hand side of this blog and subscribe. That will be outlined in the next posting.

Until next time…


Flickr Creative Commons Image by Steve Grosbois