Presentation, training, or delivering lessons is a skill. And like every other skill, it is something that can be learned.
What I will share with you are some steps and techniques that you can use to deliver a presentation that facilitates learning. These are largely inspired by the book ‘Creative Training Techniques’ by Bob Pike and by my own professional experience.
What you first need to understand is that excellent trainers or presenters do a lot of unseen work for that few hours of contact time that they spend with the learners. It might look easy, but there’s a lot of work involved. It’s similar to watching a play, enjoying a few hours of entertainment but without seeing the preparation. Let me take you through the end-to-end processes involved in delivering a presentation.
I will divide the process into three legs. The first is preparation, second is delivery, and finally, reflection. Even if you are not planning to run a second round of the same training, this reflection period is still crucial for you.
Preparation - The Big Chunk of Work
First, you need to make sure that you know the topic through and through, at least within the scope of the learning objectives, but preferably a little beyond the actual learning objectives. This helps establish your credibility. So research!
Then, you need to be very clear about what you want them to know, and what you need them to know.
What you want them to know will be your learning objectives. However, most of us already have prior knowledge of the subject or we have learned a similar concept. By knowing what your learners already know (whether they be the actual concept you want to teach, or a similar concept you can hinge on) will determine what you need them to know.
Your job as a trainer, or presenter, is to bridge the gap between what they know and what they need to know in order to meet your learning objectives.
Your next job is to be very clear what would motivate your learners to learn this gap. As a trainer/presenter, part of your job is to be able to motivate your learners. It is your business to understand their motivation. After all, learning happens when your learners are motivated.
According to Bob Pike, most learners tune in to WII-FM. (What’s In It For Me). If you can demonstrate to your learners that what you are sharing is important for them, and it will benefit them, you will find yourself in a middle of a very engaged and cooperative class.
Imagine yourself opening your inbox the first thing in the morning and seeing the number 121 in bold, indicating the number of emails you received after you’ve cleared your emails the day before. If you think this is a nightmare, a statistics study from 2015 found out that an average employee receives 121 emails in a day. How will you go about handling those?
Now don’t think about yourself, but think about the person you just sent an email to yesterday. Chances are, he’s probably sieving through his emails thinking which to open first, or in case your email was opened first, how will he reply and how long will it take for him to reply?
If your email was crafted effectively, then the chances of getting your desired response, on your desired time, will be high.
Here are the ways to make your email effective, and get your desired response on your desired time (most of the time).
1. Why Are You Sending an Email?
First, you have to be very clear on your intent in sending out an email. There are emails where actions are not expected from the recipients, while there are some where actions are needed.
Emails that are meant to disseminate information, summarize discussions, share progress updates, or send reminders need no response. Recipients open the emails, read them, and no further action is expected on their parts.
Emails that require actions from the recipients usually involve asking for decisions, project updates, confirmation or other inputs needed. If actions are needed, you need to know by when you will need them to complete their assigned actions.
2. Let the Recipients Know Your Intent
Use the subject field. The potential of the subject field is mostly underused.
The subject is the first thing a person sees, besides the sender, which helps him decide whether to read or not to read the email. Helping the recipient know what to do with the email can entice him to prioritize reading your email. This helps a lot if your email needs a response (and quickly). Make sure to also write the date when you need the action by.
Try writing your subjects like below:
While no action may be needed for information, sending out documents or meeting minutes, I personally find that it is helpful to indicate them in your email. This helps people schedule when to read your emails. In time, when you have become known for helping them manage their emails through the wise use of subject field, they might find themselves wanting to prioritize reading your emails (next to their bosses) because they know it will not require a lot of effort on their behalf to understand the purpose. They might also become appreciative of your efforts which could make them want to reply to your emails quickly, out of goodwill.
Help them save time, help them schedule their actions, and help them prioritize which emails need their attention.
Make It a Painless Reading Experience
Help them read and understand your message well, and easily.
1. ‘Lead’ Them Through the Email
In journalism language, the lead is the main message that you want your audience to know. By reading the lead, one should know what your email is all about. Don’t let your message be buried, put it up right on top.
The guideline is that if your recipient decides to just skim through your email and mark it for detailed reading later, he has an idea of the content. He should also be able to judge the priority of your email from reading the first few sentences if he has not yet done so through your subject headline.
2. Be brief
Average readers can read about 300 words per minute, but usually not at 100% comprehension. So if someone receives 121 emails per day, and each email is about 300 words, he would be spending about two work hours a day just reading through emails. Be considerate and be brief. They will be grateful for it.
Also, it’s easier to remember a brief message than a long-winded message. So help them remember what they need to do!
3. Format the Body
Instead of the usual paragraphs, make good use of numbers, bullets, and tables. They are easy to insert and they definitely make it easier to read through the email.
Which among the two would you prefer reading?
While message 2 looks longer, using bullets made it easier to read.
4. Use Bold, Italics or Highlights to Emphasize
If you want to emphasize a point, don’t hesitate to use bold, italicize or to highlight.
You can also use it when you want to call the attention of someone among the many recipients of your email.
Writing Alan's name in bold helps catch his attention so he can focus on what is needed from him.
5. Embed Reply in the Original Email Body
The original email would contain both content and context. By replying on the original email body, you will save yourself from re-typing the context. If the sender has formatted it well, you also need to re-do the formatting. You are also helping the recipient read faster since he would be familiar with what he has written and he would not have to spend time mapping out your thoughts to his.
This is especially helpful if there are multiple points that need to be clarified in the email.
See example below.
Notice two things. By formatting the original email well using bullets, it allowed Sam to respond more clearly and easily. By embedding the response in the original email, Sam did not have to write a lot. She merely typed her response. This way helps drive clarity while saving time.
Send Reminders and Follow-Ups
Depending on the urgency and importance of the project, you may want to send reminders or follow-ups.
Reminders should always be gentle (Gentle reminder: Upcoming due on actions). Reminders should be sent before the deadline. Since the deadline has not passed yet, your intent is only to remind them not to exceed the deadline.
Be choiceful when doing this. I would recommend sending reminders only if the project is really critical, or if the person has a tendency to miss the deadlines.
Follow-ups are sent after the deadline has passed. Numbering your follow-ups (1st Follow-up, 2nd Follow-up) and CC-ing their superiors or managers can increase the likelihood of them responding immediately.
One final note is that while the goal is to send out brief and clear emails, you should never compromise on the tone. Maintain a professional and respectful tone, always. Be aware that while some words or phrases may be delivered face-to-face and still sound acceptable, it may not sound well in an email because an email is not able to make use of body language or the tone of voices.
Overall, emails need not be painful and scary. They can be effective and fun to read. Just follow the tips above and be known as a great emailer!
In corporate projects, it is easy to get caught in the swirl of excitement and endless possibilities. It is always tempting to move forward without taking enough time to plan out a strategy. However, an activity without a strategy can end up wasting time and resources. It is always better to plan well so you can execute well to end well. Ensure that you work with the strengths of your team members.
2. Work with strengths
Make the athletic people run, and make the less athletic guard the base. This is working with strengths. Put in place people with the right skills.
Together, the team can achieve more. As a member of the team, you are tasked to play a certain role, either to run around and shoot targets, or to guard the base. Being part of the team means focusing on your assigned task and doing it well. Trust that your other teammates will be doing the same to the best of your ability. Teamwork means sticking to a well-planned strategy that makes full use of their strengths.
In the corporate world, because of different viewpoints, there are people who are hesitant to do their jobs well and they end up going solo. But the idea of teamwork is that the sum of all efforts exceeds the sum of individual efforts combined. Therefore, it is crucial to learn to do you part as a member of the team to the best of your abilities. This is the same with laser tag. If you are tasked to run around, run with all your strength, if you are tasked to guard, guard with your life.
However, to make this possible, the team must be led by a good leader because a good leader commands trust. Trust is essential to ensure that the team works well.
A leader has a very important job. He not only states the strategy, but it is his duty to elicit the best strategy from the group. A leader must be the command post of the team. He must lead the strategy discussions, and ensure that everyone buys in the strategy. Although this is just a game, being able to command leadership is very meaningful. If people are still willing to follow you 'without' a reward, that means you can truly motivate from the heart. This can be seen as a huge leadership potential. What better way to showcase this than through 'mere' games?
5. Focus on the goal
During the game, it is easy to get caught in the moment and forget about the goal. Once that happens, the strategy will be questioned and eventually abandoned. Always be clear on the team’s goal and your goal as the member of the team. If your assigned goal is to bring down the enemy base, then focus all your attention to it. Only when each team member relentlessly pursues his or her goal can the team’s goal be achieved.
Good communication is key in any activity. At the very least, it prevents people from being upset. When done most effectively, it can stir up the hearts and motivate people to do very well. Communication is ongoing; it never stops. It is at the start of the game, throughout the game, until the game ends.
As the game starts, each team must be able to communicate their ideas, their strengths and their reservations without affecting the morale of the team. Throughout the game, the leader must continuously motivate this team. He should communicate how they are doing with the strategy. He must keep them focused. During the end, communication is important to affirm each one’s value, which paves way to better relationships. Better relationships mean that the team is set to achieve more in the future.
Enjoy playing laser tag, and enjoy learning the corporate musts.
Games are a great way to learn new things or to re-enforce things and lessons that were learned earlier. They also provide a safe atmosphere to practice life skills, which can be beneficial to your day-to-day activities and interactions.
Clash of Clans, a.k.a COC, is an online game that can be played on tablets or smartphones. According to wikia, 'COC is a strategy game where players can construct and expand one's village, unlock successively more powerful warriors and defenses, raid and pillage resources from other villages, create and join Clans and much, much more.'
Project management (PM), defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI), is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities in order to meet the project requirements. Through playing COC, one can learn skills on managing risks, managing resources, and managing schedule and tasks.
To the professional world, a risk is an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or a negative effect on the project’s objectives. In playing COC, one has to simultaneously manage defensive and offensive risks when your village is open to attack or if you attack a village. Risk management is important in both cases in order to achieve the player's objective. In business, if risk is not properly managed, it can result to rise in costs, delayed projects and loss of revenues while in COC, mismanagement of risk can lead to loss of elixirs and gold, loss of trophies and a potential demotion in rank which leads to lower rewards for every successful raid.
Risk management involves the following steps:
Let’s take a look at a defensive risk management in a COC game using hidden tesla as example.
Know what you are against with.
In the real world, it is prudent to anticipate when things could possible go wrong. Be prepared for emergency. That’s why you have emergency lights, emergency kits, and emergency plans. The project management world is not immune to this need.
In COC, one learns to identify the risks based on the facts he has on hand. For example, the number of hidden traps, and the destructive power of such traps, in the village one will attack is limited by the level of his town hall. For example, there is only a maximum of three hidden teslas at town hall 8. Hidden teslas also take up 2x2 spaces. By using this information, one can make a wise guess where the hidden teslas are and what damage they pose to the player.
Know the potential impact of the risk and the probability of risk occurring.
Once a player is ready to attack the village, he can use the information identified during risk identification to assess what is the impact of hidden teslas to his raid. Will he succeed? Will he meet his objectives?
If he has an army of P.E.K.K.A.’s, he knows that the damage of hidden teslas is double, so his P.E.K.K.A.’s are susceptible. The likelihood of him winning might be small. This is the called the impact of the risk.
What is the probability that there is a hidden tesla somewhere? Once a 2x2 space is empty and is surrounded by structures, there is a high likelihood that there is a hidden tesla planted in that area. Other telltale signs include a lot of tombstones surrounding an empty space. These are the tombstones of the troops from a previous raid attempt.
Developing a risk plan
What to do when the risk occurs?
Once you’ve identified the risks and made the assessment, it is now time to develop a risk plan. Players develop this skill through the game by planning what troops they are to bring for each attack, planning the attack pattern and choosing which village they are likely to succeed if they attack.
As one’s town hall and barracks are upgraded, there will be more troops at disposal. However, bearing in mind the likelihood of having hidden teslas, the player might reinforce his troops by bringing healers, wizards, healing and lightning spells. These troops and spells will allow him to destroy the hidden teslas and prevent further damage to his troops.
Planning the attack pattern
Hidden teslas are unaffected by lightning spells if they are hidden. One can trigger the hidden tesla to appear by deploying a weaker troop (goblin, barbarian) within the tesla’s effective range. Once the hidden tesla is activated, he can use a lightning spell to destroy the now visible tesla.
Also, the player can consider deploying the P.E.K.K.A.’s away from the suspected area where hidden teslas are.
Choosing an alternative village
When attacking, the player has the chance to assess whether he has the appropriate troops to win the attack against the village he was matched up against. He is given 30 seconds to assess the village layout and to decide if he will go ahead with the attack or choose an alternative village. Using risk management principles, the player then decides what is the best course of action.
Mitigate the risk as they arise
Deploy your attack plan
The player now has his troops, his action plan, and all he has to do is to push the ‘attack’ button.
During the raid, there may be some surprises that were not anticipated. Now this is the role of the project manager – to steer the project towards the goal’s direction. This can be done by managing the deployment of the troops, doing an early retreat, or revising the goals to obtain the most beneficial outcome. For example, what was suspected as a hidden tesla was in fact a giant bomb. The player can then choose to deploy the troops on that spot knowing that the trap has gone off, or to continue searching for the hidden teslas before launching as full-scale attack.
So there you have it. This is how risk management principles are learned by playing COC. If you're a COC player, know that it's not just for games and you can have fun and learn at the same time. If you're a parent and if you have a child addicted to COC, maybe you can make use of this fact in order to ensure that he is learning something even if he is 'just' playing games.
I’ll be publishing a book on COC and project management in October 2015 and selling it in this website. Let me know what topics you want to discuss by leaving comments below.
Have fun learning :)
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