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As a sales training professional in the pharmaceutical or medical device space, you should be regularly watching TED talks. If not, you are missing out. TED talks are gathered from a series of large conferences and small forums in which phenomenal speakers hailing from the technology, entertainment, and design worlds (hence the name “TED” talks) share their knowledge and unique perspective on a variety of interesting topics. While some of the talks may not be directly related to training pharmaceutical sales or medical device reps, they are all certainly excellent examples of how to impart new knowledge to a group of people in an entertaining and memorable way. Isn’t that what we are all trying to do?

Here are five TED talks every trainer should watch and why:

1. Mike Rowe: Learning from dirty jobs

As a fan of Mike Rowe I may be biased in putting this one first. His presentation style alone is worth learning from. He uses no slides or props during his talk. This lets us all know we are capable of presenting without a PowerPoint crutch if we really tried. I think Mike’s key point is that we need to continually listen to those who are actually doing “the job.” Trainers, this would mean listening to your sales reps. (Warning: If you are the squeamish type, this may not be the TED talk for you. Mike goes into graphic detail about working with farm animals).

2. Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

At some point, you or your staff will deliver training in a face-to-face setting. This may be an instructor-led classroom training with your sales reps in the same room or via the web. When is the last time you thought about your body language during those sessions? How could it be affecting your training outcomes?

3. Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

Have you considered flipping the classroom? The cost of travel and taking reps out of territory isn’t getting cheaper.

4. Andrew Stanton: Clues to a great story

People connect and create anticipation through stories. They make us care and make complicated topics easier to remember. So why not incorporate more storytelling into your sales training or workshops? If you aren’t already, others are. At a recent conference I attended, Dan Skoubye, the Associate Director of Sales Training at BMS, held a session titled, “Tell a Story and Bring Sales Training to Life.” Don’t worry, if you need some brushing up on storytelling, Andrew’s talk will certainly inspire you.

5. General Stanley McChrystal: Listen, learn… then lead

Training is leading. The knowledge you impart to your learners, good or bad, will be acted on in some form by your reps. Will you let your reps “fail but not be failures?” How do you lead, train, and create trust across multigenerational groups of reps with varying skill sets? The General shares his experiences in dealing with these issues from a military perspective. (Full Disclosure: The General got into hot water for his comments in a 2010 Rolling Stone magazine article where he was a bit too candid about his bosses. This led to him becoming a retired General).

Did we overlook a great TED talk for sales trainers?

Please let us know by commenting below! We’d love to see it and share it.