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Change the status quo with the keynotes of the top L&D thought leader


Paul Matthews

travels from UK

Author, executive, consultant and learning expert on a mission to help organisations develop through informal learning

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5 out of 5 stars

“I saw Paul speak tonight and he was superb. He clearly knows his stuff inside out and I would recommend him unreservedly based on my personal experience of how he delivers his knowledge.”

Rory Murray - Delivery, Operations & Strategy Specialist (EMEA) - National Grid See all references
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About Paul

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Keynote speaker Paul Matthews is Speaker, Author and Consultant who specializes in learning transfer, performance improvement, capability and informal learning. With experience in a range of industries from travel to engineering, holding senior positions in sales, service and operations. Paul is the perfect addition to an event to help your organization to unlock the power of informal learning and learning in the workplace.

Paul Matthews expertise in workplace learning takes him to conferences and corporate events across the world. He covers a wide variety of learning-based topics, but in particular informal learning, learning transfer, performance consultancy and how Learning and Development can help businesses achieve their targets.

From his experience and knowledge, Paul has authored ‘Informal Learning at Work: How to Boost Performance in Tough Times’ and ‘Capability at Work: How to Solve the Performance in Tough Times’. His latest book ‘Learning Transfer at Work: How to Ensure Training >> Performance’ is proving to be another must read. He works directly with organisations such as Santander, GSK and Google as well as many public sector organisations in the UK.

As a speaker, Paul’s key skill is in making ideas come alive with stories, ensuring audiences not only understand, but also have practical tools to implement and action change. Paul is an expert in reducing complex theory down into straight forward concepts that anyone can use to achieve better results for their business or organisation.

Originally from New Zealand, his practical approach typifies the Kiwi can-do attitude and focus on workable solutions. Paul’s last corporate role was as a Director for a NASDAQ quoted IT Company. He set up his own leadership and management consultancy firm People Alchemy Ltd in 1999 in the UK, and now develops online performance support and learning platforms.

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Keynote by speaker Paul Matthews

Learning Transfer and Workflow Learning

  • For all the great work we do in the classroom, research shows that only a small amount of the information delivered gets used effectively back in the workplace. That’s a problem!
  • In this keynote, Paul shares how to put a ‘wrapper’ around your classroom event so the event itself is more effective, and the learning is transferred back to the workplace and ‘operationalised’. This is how to make sure your training stays alive after the classroom, and generates the benefits you, and your sponsor, are looking for.
Keynote by speaker Paul Matthews

Performance Consultancy

  • Learning & Development can save money by understanding the role of performance consultancy and making sure they don’t make the common mistake of confusing it with learning consultancy. Performance consultancy acts as a filter to stop the common practice of L&D working on learning programmes that are unlikely to solve the original business problem.
  • In this interesting keynote, speaker Paul Matthews shares how to make sure that L&D is working on (and spending money on) the right stuff, not just whatever someone asks for. To sum it up; do less, save money, and get better results!
Keynote by speaker Paul Matthews

The Brand of Learning and Development

  • What do the people in your organisation say about L&D when you are not in the room? What they say is your brand, your reputation, and it has a huge impact on how effective you can be, and how easy it is to get budget.
  • Paul shares a progressive approach to L&D that will change your brand into a trusted business partner as well as the relationship between your ‘brand’ and 70:20:10.
Keynote by speaker Paul Matthews

Informal learning

  • We think we know how important informal learning is; that learning we get through experience, observation, collaboration and social exchanges. But do we? Most L&D professionals still don’t pay anywhere near enough attention to the huge amount of learning that happens while people are doing their jobs – in the workflow.
  • We know about informal learning, but few organisations leverage its power. Luckily, Paul has the tools and strategies you need to implement informal learning. This keynote is perfect for executives, leaders and managers.
Keynote by speaker Paul Matthews

L&D strategy

  • There are three things missing from most L&D strategies. Paul calls them the elephants in the room, ignored, but potentially dangerous. They are: Performance Consultancy, Informal Learning, and Learning Transfer.
  • In this keynote, Paul explains how they tend to act together as well as practical ways to start dealing with them. Oh, and of course he reveals the fourth sneaky elephant!
Keynote by speaker Paul Matthews


  • The first few days and weeks of a new employee’s relationship with their employer are critical for setting things up for a happy future for both parties. There are several stages to the process and each stage needs to be handled well to engage the new employee and satisfy their needs at each stage.
  • In this keynote, the audience will learn the secrets to great onboarding – the kind that truly makes a difference to someone! This keynote is ideal for leaders, HR and onboarding teams.
Keynote by speaker Paul Matthews

Workflow solutions to achieve sustainable behaviour change

  • Why do we invest in developing people? We want them to change the way they do their jobs in order to achieve business goals. To deliver the required behaviour change, we MUST use a workflow solution.
  • In this keynote, Paul shares the recipe for effective and sustained behaviour change and the concept of a learning workflow. He then explains how to design and implement them and, most importantly, how to measure behavioural results.
Watch speaker Paul Matthews in action

Paul Matthews - Showreel

Click here to watch speaker Paul Matthews’ inspiring showreel!

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I saw Paul speak tonight and he was superb. He clearly knows his stuff inside out and I would recommend him unreservedly based on my personal experience of how he delivers his knowledge.

Rory Murray - Delivery, Operations & Strategy Specialist (EMEA)

National Grid

His message has clarity. Paul takes a very no-nonsense approach and explains complex ideas with ease. His talks inspire and invigorate the audience, encouraging L&D towards accuracy, transparency and true collaboration.

Samina Anwar

Head of Learning & Development Programmes

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your session last week and to compliment you on your excellent facilitation. It demonstrated what I have sometimes thought but found hard to articulate – it is the space between words that actually creates meaning – not the ‘absolute’ meaning of a word. Letting us roam freely and then having the dexterity to bring back some focus was truly admirable. Difficult concept to sell of course – most business managers would roll their eyes, but in fact would all benefit from just such musing, from time to time.

Karen Maxwell - Leadership & OD Consultant


Dear doctor, all he asks for is training...

Dear doctor, all he asks for is training... We have had a quite a long relationship, and all he wants is training. I have so much more to offer, and I really want to help. I want this relationship to work so we can have a wonderful life together. I am at my wit’s end and thinking of leaving. What do I do? Sally (L&D)

Dear Sally in L&D,

I’m sorry to hear of your troubles, and it’s good to hear that you want the relationship to
work. Sadly, what you describe where partners just want you to do training, is relatively
common and you are not alone in your dilemma.

You see, they are asking for what they want because it is what they think they need. From
their perspective, this seems a perfectly reasonable request. They have identified training as
a tool to get them what they really want, which is better performance. Unfortunately, they are
usually not performance experts, and so their proposed solution to improve performance is
often wrong because they are working from a common and incorrect assumption.

This assumption is…

Training = Performance

This idea has been ‘sold’ to them over the years of their education through school and
university, and then beyond as they entered the workforce where this thinking is still
endemic, and training is often seen as the standard cure to fix performance problems.

The most that you can say is that training equals potential, but it is certainly no guarantee of
performance. Even a moment’s reflection on this exposes the fallacy, but it is such a
fundamental part of common culture and thinking in the workplace that people do not take
the time to reflect on it.

So, my advice is that your first step is to correct the myth that training equals performance.
Only then does this open the possibility of doing something else instead of, or in addition to

The way you do this is by starting from what they really want, which is achieving key
performance metrics. You may have to get a little sneaky and initially acknowledge their
request for training. They need to save face after all! You can say that in order to provide the
right kind of training that will satisfy them, you need some more details and information about
what that training needs to achieve.

Talk about the performance gap they want to close, and what behaviours need to change to close that gap. You will probably need to help them get clarity on the behaviours because most people who are asking for training have not thought through in any details what they want that training to achieve. They will be unable to describe in detail the behaviours that are needed, and how to recognise them when they are occurring.

When you have an agreement on the required behaviours, then you can start asking what
barriers exist that stop those behaviours. There must be barriers that stop people doing what
is asked of them or there would be no performance gap. So, what are the barriers?

The barriers will fall into one or more of these areas…

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of skill
  • Lack of motivation or wrong attitude
  • Physically unable
  • Environmental barrier

A good tool to delve into these barriers is the Ishikawa cause-effect diagram.

Notice that the first four points above are related to the person doing the job. They are
related to the competence of the performer. Point five is related to the ‘competence’ of the
environment, or the stage on which they are performing. You need both performer and stage
to be competent before the performer can deliver a good performance.

Many times, the barrier lies within the environment surrounding the performer, perhaps
related to system and procedures, IT, tools and resources, their manager, the organisational
culture and so on. And yet, even when it is an environmental barrier, we still often blame the
performer, and decide they need fixing. This encourages the notion that training is the

When you have a list of the barriers, you can start addressing them. If the primary barriers
are lack of knowledge or skill, then training may be the answer, but a better and cheaper
solution could be on the job performance support. It is often better to put the knowledge into
the environment than try to train it into the person. It is often better to streamline and simplify
processes than train people to adhere to complex ones.

When people can see the real barriers to performance, they will let go of their initial knee-
jerk training request, because now they can see what the really need. And if they can see
what they need with freshly opened eyes, it will become what they want, and what they will
ask for.

Who Is Accountable For Learning Transfer?

This blog is an excerpt from the forthcoming new book ‘Learning Transfer at Work: How to Ensure Training >> Performance” by Paul Matthews

Here’s a tough question, and I will apologise later … How much sustainable behaviour change are you managing to achieve from the training courses you deliver? If you are like most people delivering training, the honest answer is ‘not that much’ or perhaps more honestly, ‘I don’t know’. Now, maybe you as an L&D professional can take home your salary knowing that most of the training you do is a waste of time. Maybe the people who asked for the training are happy with that low level of impact. Maybe, like some L&D people I speak with, you can ‘bury your head in the sand’ or look the other way and make nonsense noises while you plug your ears with your fingers. Maybe you say some nice words about learning transfer and do a few things that might help, but really you are just doing what you have always done. Or maybe you are waking up to the reality that we should, as ‘professionals’, be doing much better than we are at producing business impact from our training courses.

There are many in L&D who would cough and splutter in indignation at that previous paragraph. How did you react? Maybe you are one of the very small minority of L&D professionals who are doing a good job of learning transfer and that last paragraph genuinely does not apply to you, and if so, I apologise, and I salute you. Or maybe you just feel very uncomfortable when someone calls out what should be obvious to all and says that the emperor has no clothes. In the parable of the emperor’s clothes, he did come to his senses and realise that he had been deceived. He was living within an illusion where everybody was pretending something was real when even a child could see that it was not. Somehow, so many people are living within the illusion that training is working well, when even a cursory examination shows that it is not in most cases delivering on its promise.

If learning transfer is important and therefore should be done, and it is possible to do, and people are avoiding it, we end up in the murky waters of responsibility and accountability. Who is responsible for making it happen, and who should be held accountable if it doesn’t happen? In other words, “when and where does the buck stop?”

Stop and think for a moment about the last training course you were involved with. Who was accountable for making sure learning transfer happened? When I ask that question, very few people have an answer. In other important organisational activities someone is accountable, so what’s different about learning transfer?

One of the reasons is that the activities required for successful learning transfer come from many people across different departments, and it is most unlikely that each person will do their bit and all the parts will magically coalesce into a successful programme. Somebody needs to be the conductor of the orchestra. The conductor in turn requires each member of the orchestra to contribute the part they need to play to perform the symphony. And then somebody else, perhaps whoever booked for and paid for the orchestra to perform, is holding the conductor accountable for the quality of the performance at the event. And who holds the event organiser accountable? Perhaps the people who paid for tickets to attend the concert. There is inevitably a chain of accountability.

Now, think back again to the last training course you were involved with. What was, or should have been, the chain of accountability, perhaps even starting with the company shareholders or owner? Where did the chain break? If you fix that link in the chain, are there more weak links further down the chain that will then break? Then take a step back and consider how accountability plays out in the organisation. Accountability is a facet of organisational culture, often driven from the top. Does the senior team take ownership? Do they accept accountability or are they full of excuses?

It is easy to say that a person should be accountable, but for delegated accountability to be effective, it must also be accepted. No-one wants to be held accountable for something that is likely to fail; that is a poisoned chalice. Alongside delegating accountability, you must also ask people if they have everything they need to be successful. If they say ‘yes’ then they are well on the way to accepting ownership and the fact that they are accountable. If they say ‘no’ then they will not take ownership and if/when things go wrong they will drop into spectator mode and watch as things fail. You might even get ‘I told you so’ comments. On the other hand, if they feel a sense of ownership because they have accepted accountability, they will step in when things go wrong to solve the problem.

So, in your organisation, who is accountable for learning transfer?

See keynotes with Paul Matthews
Non-binding request for Paul Matthews

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Paul Matthews
Paul Matthews

5 out of 5 stars

“I saw Paul speak tonight and he was superb. He clearly knows his stuff inside out and I would recommend him unreservedly based on my personal experience of how he delivers his knowledge.”

Rory Murray - Delivery, Operations & Strategy Specialist (EMEA) - National Grid See all references

Keynote topics with Paul Matthews