Education

Best practices in training: Make your presentations engaging

Are you keeping your students awake? Here are some tips for keeping your energy level up and your students engaged in the lesson.

Trainers must never be bored or boring. Regardless of how matter-of-fact the topic, you have to engage the attention and interest of your students before, during, and after your training.

Even though their bosses have sent them to your class to learn something, your students aren’t the only ones who have a responsibility in the classroom. You’re responsible for making sure your students hear what you’re saying. To get their attention, try incorporating these easy techniques into your teaching style.

Everybody loves a good story
If you can weave a presentation around a good story, you’ll be tapping into a powerful way to get your message across. People like stories. They’re interesting, entertaining, and memorable. Your stories create visual images of people, places, and events, so they enhance the “take away” factor.
Tell me, and I’m likely to forget.Show me, and I’m likely to remember some of it.Involve me, and I’m likely to remember most of it.
Take an unusual look at the ordinary
Catch people’s attention by taking a common topic and dealing with it in an unusual way. Look at the life of someone in a different field, for instance, and relate it to your topic.

Are you teaching a group of football fans? Then talk about the skills demonstrated by a winning Super Bowl team. Ask students to make a list of what these are. Make students feel like they are involved in something as dynamic as the Super Bowl because, in their jobs, they have to exhibit traits similar to those of football players.

Or, take Michael Jordan. Everyone’s heard of him, but what made him successful? Link one of his key attributes, such as his intense desire to win, to what your students are doing. Challenge your students to be as enthusiastic about learning as Michael is about winning.

If you’re teaching leadership, ask your students to speculate about the leadership team that got Bill Clinton elected or the team that did the first space launch. Pick something that identifies their leadership attributes.

Try to identify what your students need to know and why they need to know it. Have them do self-reflection on their needs and how this class will meet those needs. Then, address those needs.

Be “on”
Up your energy level so that you’re always “on.” It’s like being on stage or on camera. You don’t want to be a full-time actor, but being funny and wild with your body (like Chevy Chase) or being straight but dramatic (like Anthony Hopkins) has some advantages. Don’t be monotonic and stiff (like Al Gore).

Remember these general rules:
  • Come to class with a high energy level.
  • Be energetic in your presentation.
  • Use body language.
  • Use your voice, gestures, and movement.
  • Make eye contact.

Being an engaging instructor doesn’t rely on one single thing; it’s your whole package. Present yourself as if you’re on camera and your class is being broadcast to the world. Be as much an entertainer as a teacher pushing content.

A practical exercise: “pair-sharing”
A basic principle of teaching adults is that you draw on their needs, experience, and expectations; and you provide a forum where those needs can be met. It is important to remember that adults are not empty vessels. Adult learners bring backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences to the classroom; and you need to link into that experience so that what you’re saying makes sense to them.

Above all, engage your audience in an activity or conversation with others. I like using the “pair-share” process. I pose a question, and the students discuss the question with another student. Then each “team” reports the results of their discussion to the rest of the group.
To comment on these tips or to share your own suggestions for more effective training, please post a comment below or follow this link to write to Michael.
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