For most people the typical internal reaction when told they have to attend a training programme is to sigh. Don’t take it personally, without knowing you or what you’re about, most employees will look forward to a training session about as much as a visit to the dentist. It’s not necessarily that they aren’t interested in learning or that they think the person presenting lacks credibility. It’s just that the vast majority of training are overloaded with dull information and some trainers get so caught up in what they’re saying that they forget about engaging their delegates. Unfortunately with this type of ‘chalk and talk’ training, the minute participants exit the room, just about all they sat through exits the memory bank as well.
So as a trainer or even speaker, when you are next asked to present, what can you do to ensure your audience actually gains something from their time with you?
Forget the slides
It’s tempting to sit down and work your presentation out in powerpoint and then use the slides as prompts for what you want to cover. However, the difference between training that is memorable and engaging, versus one that is not, is that people remember what you say and can apply it.
Placing a whole lot of information on slides and then trying to talk over that can detract from what you’re communicating and it certainly doesn’t involve the delegate in learning a new skill. The average person can’t focus on two different things at once. If they’re having to listen to you while following the text on a slide, chances are they won’t remember either.
Develop your training around learning outcomes, not slides. What do you want your delegates to be able to know, feel and DO after the event? Start there. You’ll notice as you shift your attention away from the slides and focus more on your audience and topic, your creativity to design training is unleashed and what you say will be delivered with more passion and confidence.
It’s not about you, it’s about them
While your purpose is to train others and you will lead the session, you are the least most important person in the room. Sorry about that.
There’s nothing as boring as someone that drones on about themselves and their expertise. Yes, there is a tiny space at the start to introduce credibility and give people a bit of background so that they know you are talking from a place of experience and authority, but keep it short and sweet. More importantly, use your (humble) experience as a way to connect with your delegates to demonstrate that you understand where they are at and some of the challenges they might be facing.
When planning your training, consider what’s in it for them? What do you want them to take away from it? Create ways in which you can draw your delegates into the conversation, in non-threatening ways such as group activities or paired discussions. Unless you are the only person ever to know this topic or use this system then your delegates might just learn from each other just as easily as from you.
Keep it simple
The most effective training provides information in structured bite sized chunks. As humans our brains process and retain smaller bits of information far more effectively. When creating materials keep the information to a minimum and create spaces for them to make their own notes and record their own thoughts.
Keep it relevant
If you’re speaking to people in a specific industry, ensure that the case studies and examples used relate to that specific industry. When people can identify with what you’re talking about they are far more likely to retain it. If time allows, invite people to share some of their experiences – this is a great way to achieve audience participation.
People listen to those they believe are authentic. No level of success is achieved without facing obstacles and there is as much to learn from failure as there is from success. Sharing experiences that touch on the good, the bad, and sometimes even the ugly will show an authenticity that people will listen to. It enables you to connect with your delegates more easily when they can relate to your experiences. It also encourages people not to fear failure but rather see it as an experience that they can learn from. In this way it empowers others to not be afraid of trying new things.
Practice makes perfect
Think about it –could you have learned to drive a car or ride a bicycle just be someone telling you how to do it? Unlikely. We need to get some ‘safe’ hours in.
Whilst most people will dread ‘role play’ it is still one of the best and safest ways to practice new skills. Think creatively about using actors, creating group theatres or simply watching videos and discussing what could have been done better/differently. The more practice time you can build into the session the more likely your delegates are to retain and transfer what they have learned into the classroom back to the real world.
Remember that learning requires change and effort, two things that people are often resistant to. Engaging with learners and making it easy for them to retain the knowledge and practice their skills will go a long way to ensuring the training you deliver is more memorable and more effective.