One of our TrainingRepublic readers, John Liddell, recently shared a training experience we thought you might enjoy. John reminds us that “it doesn’t matter how well you know your subject—never close your eyes in the classroom.”

Here’s John’s tale:

An eye-opening experience
“As an instructor, you become very familiar with the material and what the students have to do in the lessons you present. You get to the point where you can literally do it blindfolded.

“I am one of those instructors who walks about the classroom checking that everyone is keeping up and not stuck somewhere or abusing their mouse devices unnecessarily. But every once in a while, especially if I am introducing a class or beginning the introductory lesson, I will sit or stand in front of the class. I also have a bad habit of visualizing what I am describing on the computer by occasionally closing my eyes. It was on one such occasion that disaster struck.

“As I recall, I was teaching PowerPoint at the basic level. I introduced the class by having the students open a presentation and go through different slides that showed examples of titles, bullets, graphs, organizational charts, imported images, etc., so they could get a feel for the capabilities of the program. As I was very familiar with what they would be looking at, I told them we were going to view a presentation to begin with and that I would answer any questions after the short slide show. So off we went on our merry way.

“I told them to go to the Office toolbar on the desktop and to click on the PowerPoint icon. I closed my eyes and continued talking: ’Select Open Existing Presentation. Select the presentation called Lesson 1 and click Open. The first slide you see is an example of blah, blah, blah.’ Explaining each slide and then telling them to click on the slide to go to the next one until I had covered the entire presentation, talking with my eyes shut through some 18 slides for about 15 to 20 minutes. Quite a feat, but easy when you have done it hundreds of times.

“Throughout my entire presentation not a single student had said a word, as I had previously requested. I opened my eyes to be confronted by 20 students still with their desktops in front of them. Not one had opened PowerPoint! I had forgotten to put the application icon for PowerPoint on the Office toolbar. When I asked why someone didn’t say anything, they responded in one joyful voice, ‘You told us not to ask any questions until the presentation was over!’ Needless to say, class ran late that day. The moral of the story is, ’Don’t close your eyes in class!’”

Trainers’ tip list
If you want to contribute to our list of things not to do when you’re teaching a class, please post a note below. For answers, solutions, and info on training issues, check out our forum. And if you’d like to comment on this article, just send us an e-mail message.