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.
Once you have done this, you can now proceed to design the flow of the program.
The opening is important because it prepares the learners for what they are going to learn. It’s also meant to break the ice and catch learners’ attention. From a good opening, a trainer can draw out relevant lessons that can be used to emphasize the learning objectives.
This is also the part where the trainer introduces himself, and lesson objectives are shared.
Delivering Lesson Objectives (Body)
It is highly advisable to introduce lesson objectives in a logical manner. This means that during transitions from one segment to another, the learners should be able to see the overall connection between the different objectives. I usually plan for a learning objective to be covered in one segment. If the learning objective is too huge, I would spread it out over a few segments.
For each segment, there will be an input session where the information learners need to know is shared, an activity or activities where learners can practice what they learned under the guidance of the trainer and an assessment to check that the learning objectives were met. You can start either with an activity or an input.
Tips to Ensure a Good Flow
This is often left-out in many trainings/presentation due to lack of time. However, it is important to plan for a good closing because 1) it facilitates retention and 2) it makes good use of the time when the learners’ attention is waning. Towards the end of a presentation or a training, the learners start to look forward to the end of the session so any new material introduced at this point may not be retained by the learners. Hence, it is good to leave ample time for closing to assess what they have learned and summarize the lesson.
Here are some activities you can do for closing. Definitely, there are more closers you can use.
Besides the program flow, a trainer also has to decide which is the best seating arrangement for the program. If you want learners to interact with each other more, then you can choose seating arrangements that group them together facing each other. If there are hardly any interactions, the traditional classroom is still an option, but you might want to try the herringbone arrangement as it is less traditional and provides a slightly different ambiance which might make it feel less constricting.
Finally, you should ensure that whatever you plan is logistically possible. Some activities might not be feasible in some venues, or some activities might be too expensive. So make sure you plan within budget and within the restrictions of the venue. Also, you need to have contingency plans.
Contingency plans may be needed in cases where:
Once you are confident with the design of your program, you should practice. You can rehearse how you run it alone, or you can run it with a few people, or preferably both. This allows you not only to remember the key points and the flow but also to identify gaps or flaws in your design before your delivery. Practicing also builds confidence. In addition to the usual practice, incorporate visualization. Visualize yourself delivering a splendid session. Visualization has been proven to help people perform better.
Once the session is over, I strongly encourage to have a reflection on what went well and what can be improved. If a similar session will be run another time, it allows for fine-tuning and improvements. If not, then it becomes a good learning experience for the trainer. In both cases, a reflection can help the trainer identify his growth areas. One of the best ways to improve is to learn from experience, hence, this reflection session should not be skipped.
If another session needs to be run, be sure to go through the preparation step because your learners, including what they know, and the venue might be different which can require adjustments to be made with an existing material. The good news is, the content should already be ready so you might have less to prepare.
That’s it. Remember that training or presentation is fun and rewarding. Go through your Preparation, Delivery and Reflection stages and I’m sure you’ll be able to deliver a wonderful session.
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