Just because you know how to do something or have extensive knowledge on a particular subject does not mean that you will be successful in teaching it to others. Try these tips for sharing that knowledge and experience in an effective manner.
Pretty much everyone finds themselves having to teach something to someone at some point. You might need to train your team, instructor mentor a colleague, or even help your child with homework or to solve a problem. As a soft skills consultant and trainer, I teach regularly. I have discovered that each topic requires a variety of approaches and activities in order to engage any particular audience and provide them with an atmosphere conducive to retentive learning. Most people are not verbal learners, rather they are visual or hands-on learners. In addition, most individuals, even if they try to focus will only retain about 20% of what they hear and two weeks later will likely only remember about half of that information. However, most people retain up to 90% of what they say and do. In other words, the more interactive the learning experience the more retentive the outcome.
If you have something important to teach you should give the process as much consideration as the topic and information. I actually continually search for new exercises that I can use in various workshops so that the material will resonate more for the participants and interject more fun and meaning into my workshops.
Here are some effective tips that will help you to do that.
- Consider who is in your audience.
As I already mentioned, people learn differently. Some love to read while many others are more experiential. Millennials, for example, have a different approach to knowledge and information than Baby Boomers. Before you start delivering a program it is helpful to know who will be attending and if possible how they like to learn. Then you can adjust your approach to suit your audience’s learning style and perhaps, if you learn enough about them, even what they are expecting to take away from your presentation. This will help you with content, approach, and structure.
- Chunk up the content.
Most people can’t absorb a large amount of information all at once. They usually do better with smaller amounts. In addition, if you offer them the opportunity to apply the new strategies or information immediately it will be more likely to stick and become something they will use in future situations. To that end, it is a good idea to consider separating the key aspects of your topic into multiple shorter sessions. This will give you the opportunity to better develop those key elements and make them into more powerful segments so that the attendees can have those so important “aha moments”. Be sure to include appropriate stories, examples or even pictures to illustrate your points and reinforce your content. Besides, the more fun they are having the more likely they will look forward to subsequent sessions as well as be more likely to remember what you are delivering to them.
- Simplify your delivery.
Do not complicate your points or ramble on and on when providing information to your audience. Use technology such as PowerPoint, Prezi or other delivery systems to reinforce your points but do not belabour them with too much text or be too wordy. Communicate your concepts in simple ways such as using short videos, animation, or appropriate pictures or graphics. Do not put everything you plan to say into your slides. PowerPoint serves two main purposes: Firstly, it focuses the audience on the key points you wish to impart and secondly, it reminds the speaker of the key points they wish to speak about. However, how you are going to describe those elements should not be on the slides as your audience can read the slides faster than you can speak them so will get ahead of you and disengage. In other words, they will start to think that they do not need you and that you did not prepare very well if you need to read your slides. Instead, try to make your presentation so easy and simple that even an incredibly busy and distracted person could understand and get it right away.
- Be entertaining.
So much training is just dull and boring, so if you are going to be successful in providing a good ROI for your audience and want them to actually take away some beneficial ideas and start to actually use them, you need to “spice up” your presentation with things that are memorable and fun. You can interject short videos, humorous stories, and funny graphics. Basically, you need to come up with creative ways to delight and entertain the attendees so that you keep them engaged and they leave the session happy.
- Provide them with actionable takeaways.
People retain information more effectively when they can apply the new knowledge to situations that make sense to them right away. Therefore, it is a good idea to offer them the chance to try out what they have learned in a typical scenario familiar to them or to try out something with a partner or even to have them fill out a questionnaire and then debrief it together. When you do this, the attendees will be more likely to recall what they have learned the next time a similar or even the same situation arises. In order to have those sorts of scenarios, I usually ask the client to provide them for me. I do put them into the PowerPoint slides, but I also hard copy them and divide the attendees into groups and each group gets a hard copy scenario (that they are familiar with) and they can now use the strategies and approaches that have just been taught to gain a better and more successful outcome from that scenario. Adults generally learn when they see a need so if you provide situations that resonate with them, it will be more likely that they will realize why they are learning these new approaches and when they need to deal with a similar or even the same problem in the future, they will be more likely to employ what they have learned as they saw that they would gain a better outcome.
If you follow these suggestions you will be able to create sessions that will be more successful for both you and your audience. Besides, both you and your audience will also have more fun and feel more satisfied with the time they have spent with you. So have some fun with your materials but keep it simple and appropriate for your audience.