OK, now you've completed preparing for the training session, greeted students as they arrived, and it's time to start training. What's next?
Let's first look at the general sequence of activities in most training activities.
The training presentation generally follows the sequence below.
- Thank them for coming!
- Introduction: "getting around," and emergency procedures.
- Preview: Tell them what you're going to tell them.
- Benefits: Tell them why it's important.
- Main ideas:Tell them
- Activity: Have them do something
- Benefits: Tell them why it's important.
- Review: Tell them what you told them
- Test: Have students take a written test or demonstrate skills.
- Evaluate: It's not over 'til the paperwork is done. Ask them to complete a student evaluation.
- Thank them for coming!
If you get that sequence down and follow it regularly, you are much more likely to be successful every time you train.
There are several things you can do to make the introductions interesting. Here are a few ideas:
- Thank the audience for coming: You know, "you get what you give." What does that mean? In the context of training, if you welcome your audience and come across as being thankful for their attendance, they will be more likely to return those same thoughts and feelings back to you. I know this might seem a little "metaphysical" but over 30 years of training has convinced me it works.
- Establish your credibility: Give your experience, share your interest in the materials being presented. Giving your audience a summary of your experience, education, etc., is fine as long as you don't turn it into a love-me bragging session. Your audience won't appreciate that.
- Break the ice: You might also ask your students to introduce themselves at this time. An introduction "icebreaker" exercise I've used successfully many times has been to ask each student to tell everyone something about themselves, like their favorite sports team, vacation spot, or animal. That little exercise can be quite fun!
- Present the agenda: Again, "tell'm what yer gonna tell'm!" Let them know why it's important and how it can impact their job and life.
- Determine expectations from the audience: During introductions you can ask students to tell you what they expect to get out of the training. Be ready for some surprise responses though.
- Discuss the schedule for breaks: OK... "Break time!" I like to give shorter 5-minute breaks every hour. You will know when you've gone too long without a break when students start leaving the training room. Remember, if you tell them a 5-minute break, they take 10 minutes, so keep the reigns tight on breaks. I would not present more than 1.5 hours without a break.
- Give a time frame for your presentation: Let everyone know when the training will be over, and NEVER run over. Your students have a life too, and a schedule they have to keep.
- Tell the audience what you hope they will learn (what they'll know and be able to do) by the end of your presentation. This goes hand-in-hand with summarizing the various topics that will be presented.
- Don't be a "know-it-all": Do not come across as arrogant and having all the answers. Confess that you probably don't know all the answers. You really don't need to be the "fountain of all knowledge" to be an effective trainer. Trainer's who believe they have to be perfect are never at ease, and usually come across with less confidence. Admitting that you don't have all the answers takes pressure off yourself and will place some of the responsibility on the audience.
- Encourage everyone to participate with their own ideas, opinions, beliefs, and feelings. Again, we can apply the "get what you give" principle here by stating that the student is only going to get out of the training, what he or she puts into it. I also like to divide students into groups. I do this automatically by setting up the classroom tables with 4-6 chairs in a grand "horseshoe" formation.
- Once you have gained attention, transition into the body of your presentation. "What are your questions before we start?" After you have answered questions, get going!
Different Presentation Styles
The key to effective presentation is being able to adapt your natural presentation style so that it best fits the needs/wants of the audience. Since you will be training adults, let's take a look at
some tips on effective presentation skills.
Sharpening your Presentation Skills
- Don't claim to be the fountain of all knowledge. If you do, someone in the audience will try to prove you wrong. For years I have always let my students know that I'm not the all knowing wise
one, and I always appreciate input from my students. This also helps take some of the pressure off you to actually know it all.
- Be Entertaining: Your presentation should be informative and entertaining.
- Slow Down and smell the roses: When speakers are nervous and inexperienced, they tend to talk way to fast. Consciously slow your speech down and add pauses for emphasis.
- Eye Contact: Make eye contact with each student from time to time. Don't get into the trap of looking at only one student while neglecting everyone else.
You don't want students feeling left out of the conversation.
Sharpening your Presentation Skills (Continued)
- Don't read from the slides: It's more interesting if you know your presentation without cues. Reading tells your students you don't really understand your material, a huge blow to your
- Tell stories: I'm sure you've got some and you can ask the class if they have stories to tell that illustrate or give a real-life application of the topic.
- Project your voice: You need to be heard. Projecting your voice doesn't require yelling, let your voice resonate in your lungs rather than in the throat to produce a clearer sound.
Speak to the person in the back of the room.
- Use natural gestures: Don't try to plan your gestures because more often than not, it looks planned, and can actually be quite amusing to students. Because planned gestures don't match
your other involuntary body cues, they look false. Don't continually keep your arms folded or down at your side.
- Buy some time: If you don't know the answer, ask if anyone in the class knows. You'll be surprised how much experience and knowledge your audience has. If someone knows the answer be
gracious and thank them. - You can use statements like, "that's a really good question," or "I'm glad you asked me that," to buy yourself a few moments to organize your response.
Will the other people in the audience know you are using these filler sentences to reorder your thoughts? Probably not. And even if they do, it still makes the presentation more smooth than um's and ah's
littering your answer.
Sharpening your Presentation Skills (Continued)
- Pause....... from time to time: A well-placed pause can help generate more interest. Pauses help to emphasize important points. Don't use fillers like 'um,' 'ah,' or 'you know' during pauses.
- Get practice: The first time you present a topic should not be the first time you have practiced the presentation or at least gone over the material in your head. Whether you talk out
loud or visualize the presentation in your head, you're building that all important "mental script" that is so necessary.
- Know when to apologize: Be careful to apologize only when you've actually done something wrong. Don't apologize for being nervous or lack of preparation. Most students won't detect your
anxiety, so don't draw attention to it.
- Do apologize if you're wrong: One caveat to the above rule is that you should apologize if you are late or shown to be incorrect. You want to seem confident, but don't be a jerk about it.
- Have fun - enjoy the training: Tell yourself you're going to have fun, you like the students, and the session is going to be successful. Positive self-talk like that will go a long way in
helping you present with the proper attitude.
Tips for Training Adults
- YOU can NOT motivate people;
- all people are motivated; and
- people do things for their reasons, not your reasons.
The Five Ways to Squelch Motivation
- Have little personal contact. Worse yet, ignore.
- Get participants in a passive mood and keep them there.
- Assume class participants will apply what is taught.
- Be quick to criticize.
- Make participants feel stupid for asking questions in class.
More Tips for Training Adults (Continued)
- Tell them one thing at a time. Adults are "linear." They like to be fed information, one piece at a time.
- Give them time to take notes. They should not have to write and/or draw something while you want them to listen. If they must write while you're talking, they're probably missing or losing much
of what you want them to hear.
- Give them time to reflect or think. Give them a pause once in a while. Group activities are great for helping students think about the practical application of topics.
- Avoid distractions in the front of the room. Don't place a lot of "stuff" up front, especially if it's interesting to look at. Keep it to the side and present it to the class only when needed.
- Flip that paper. Flip charts should be left on a blank page when not being used.
- Announcements, announcements, ANNOUNCEMENTS! Once announced, the days agenda should be posted in the back of the room.
- Bring it home. Apply the learning to something they can relate to. You can do that, or you can ask students to help by giving examples.
- Adults do not effectively learn by simply being told. They must have a chance to digest and understand how they can apply what they're being taught to the job.
- Adults seek learning to cope with change or problems, because learning is not usually considered its own reward.
- Information more easily enters the long-term memory when it is linked to old memories or can be related to something the learner has experienced.
- Make certain the program material is actually needed by the participants. Give them time during the training to apply what they're learning to real-life situations.
Tips for Training Adults (Continued)
- Give them a list. The adult's short-term memory is linear, so training works best if you use lists. Below is an example of a list you might use in an "Effective Recognition" training presentation. Lists like this are more interesting, especially since the list is unique with all items starting with the letter "S".
Use acronyms: STARS = Supervision, Training, Accountability, Resources, and Support.
Let them know what's important: Say something like, "This is important," or "This is a key concept".
Surprise them: The mind pays more attention to what's novel than what's ordinary. Use the 80% predictable/20% unpredictable rule here.
Involve them: Give participants the opportunity to share information and points of view during the training program.
- Soon: Recognize as soon as possible after the behavior.
- Spontaneous: No need to plan it, just do it!
- Simple: A handshake, time off, or lunch work!
- Selection: Let them choose tangible rewards.
- Significant: Should be important to the receiver.
- Sincere: To touch the heart, recognition must come from the heart.
Invite them to be creative by developing lists, acronyms, and exercises. Get them involved in solving problems.
Using Visual Aids (VA)
People learn primarily by seeing, and did you know, 70-80% of adults are visual. They can also help facilitators to communicate effectively.
- Let your visuals help your presentation, not be your presentation
- Present visuals only when you are ready to use them
- Put visuals away when you're finished with them
- Rehearse with your visuals
- Test all audio-visual equipment before using it
- Avoid getting between your visuals and your participants (Use a laser pointer!)
- Write on flipcharts and white-boards
- Use assorted color transparencies to add interest and variety
- Use a pointer of some kind for finding important items on the screen
- Avoid moving the AV equipment while you're using it
- Be careful not to use too much animation on computer slides
Death by PowerPoint 2012 by Don McMillan
Newly edited and improved version of Don's classic bit "Life After Death by PowerPoint".
A Successful Presentation Technique - Real-Impact Inc.
Jean Palmer Heck discusses a case study explaining a successful presentation technique to an audience of the Society of Human Resource Management.
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