What do brown M&M’s & technical requirements for training have in common?








Turns out a lot.  You and I might know intuitively that participants need to be able to see and hear us when we’re training in order for the workshop to go off well, but it’s not the case for everyone.

David Lee Roth of Van Halen was a master of his technical requirements.   He’d roll nine 18 wheeler trucks into towns that weren’t necessarily used to dealing with that amount of gear.  To test whether critical details had been paid attention to, and to prevent possibly injuries (e.g. imagine a stage collapsing with that much gear on it) he buried a request, deep in Article 126.

Simply put, Article 126 requested a bowl of M&M’s in the green room before every show, with ALL the brown M&M’s removed.  If Roth showed up and saw brown M&M’s he knew to check for other details that may have been missed.   The clause also included his right to cancel a show if the nefarious brown M&M’s were present, which he did once.

Brown M&M’s were a sign that all was not right and he’d demand a serious going over of all the details if he saw one.

And even though us trainers may not be dealing with 9 semi-trucks full of program supplies, technical requirements are equally important.

Technical requirements are those things that you arrange behind the scenes to ensure things go smoothly.  The main ones are sound, seating and supplies.

  • I’ve trained in a room with a massive fireplace right, smack in the middle of it (obscuring the view of almost everyone).
  • I’ve trained in a room where people were so squished in they were practically sitting on each other’s laps.
  • I’ve held my ground when working with clients and event organizers, that, yes, a stage is mandatory if the group is over 100 (participants that is, not in age).
  • I didn’t hold my ground when a client refused to do a sound check before a workshop with 700 and lived to regret it (no sound, no PowerPoint)

And so it goes.

Technical requirements are critical for a good training and development workshop.  Here are some tips for the top three, sound, staging and supplies:


  • know how far your voice can carry without amplification.  I can do a workshop of up to about 75 without a microphone, after that a mic is mandatory
  • laveliere, or hands free microphones are the best (because you have both hands free to gesture and help make your point, not to mention handle your reading glasses if that’s an issue)


  • again, up to about 75 people and you likely don’t need a stage, more than that and a stage is mandatory
  • make sure you know what you want on your stage – e.g. number and placement of chairs, podiums, microphones etc.


  • supplies will vary wildly depending on what you’re teaching but regardless, know what supplies you are providing and which ones the client is
  • I always make a point of arriving 30 minutes before a workshop, in part to ensure the supplies are all ready to go
  • make sure you have water to drink and a table to put your supplies on

Every client that signs on with Rock.Paper.Scissors Inc., signs a contract stating that they’ve read our technical requirements.  It goes a long way in preventing major gaffes.


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