Experts, beware

The research stuck in my head when listening to a Nonprofit Financial Basics webinar was this: “Experts are not fully aware of about 70% of their own decisions and mental analysis of tasks and so are unable to explain them fully even when they intend to support the design of training… or work.” Read the whole article

When I develop trainings on a topic, I seek out other trainers leading similar sessions to learn content and see how other people present information. One of my areas of focus these days is financial curriculum, so how sweet to get in my inbox the recording of MBA-educated nonprofit CPA (lots of letters) leading a Nonprofit Financial Basics webinar! Basics… what comes to your mind when you think about financial basics?

Out of the gate, the CPA referenced how a nonprofit would manage a cost reimbursement contract with HUD. How many small to medium nonprofits needing a basics class manage HUD contracts? The session stalled when a passing reference to in-kind donations yielded a flurry of questions about how to manage in-kind. The bread-and-butter of small to medium nonprofits are in-kind donations. I moved on with my day at this point, again reminded how tricky it can be for experts to lead learning sessions, particularly a basics class.

This 70% statistic is so interesting because there are two sides to it. Experts gloss over 70% of the information needed by someone less expert. But they aren’t talking less. That means they are including detail unnecessary and perhaps derailing for the person learning.

Not all experts fall into this trap. I work with incredible experts in finance and HR (and other topics too) who are top in their field and good at meeting learners where they are. In my experience, these experts have invested time and effort in honing their teaching skill.

We are all expert in something. I appreciated this reminder to slow down, spend time deeply understanding the needs and knowledge of the person in front of me, and support experts as they share their important knowledge with people who need to know a lot to serve our communities.


The Nonprofit Board Certificate Course is launched on our new Nonprofit Learning Center website. This on-demand course integrates adult learning and board content to leads board member through what they need to know and how to take action.

Nonprofit colleagues: The Central Washington Conference offers amazing learning and is open to anyone. Register by April 1 to be entered into a drawing for a visa gift card.

Association colleagues: We are scheduling fall “Trainer Academy” series now to help experts hone their teaching skill

Consultant colleagues: I recently recorded a “behind the scenes” video for a client to help them prepare for strong online delivery. Enjoy!

Published by Nancy

I work at the intersection of learning, nonprofits, and leadership. I am a teacher, instructional designer, and nonprofit person who has worn every hat possible. I regular write, speak, and consult on learning strategy, design, and leadership.

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