Saturday, April 3, 2010

Preparing an Outline

How do you prepare your course outlines? Here is a method that I use. I color code my materials into three classifications; Red for must know, Yellow for good to know and green for nice to know. I also use the method of telling them what I want to tell them, tell them and tell them what I told them.

Now I set up the introduction in accordance with telling them what I am going to tell them. The body of my presentation comes next, the method you choose depends on what works best; chronological, important to least important, narrative, story-telling or whatever one you pick. My conclusion is a recap of what I told them and here I emphasize the main points.

Now back to the color coding idea. In each section I have the important (must know) points first. The next material is good to know and supports the must to know material. The final part of each section is my nice to know material. This material is just icing on the cake so to speak, not critical but not useless, just nice to know.

Now depending upon how the audience is interacting (questions, etc.) and how much time I have been given determines if I ever get to the nice to know material. You can always leave the material you did not get to cover in the form of a handout or save it for a later date.

Just something to think about. What do you do when preparing your teaching/training outlines?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Training In-Service

What is the hardest bunch you have ever had to train? In many cases it is our peers or as some call in-service training. Much in-service training is mandatory and is being presented because of some problem or legal issue within the organization or industry. This means many of the people just do not want to be in your class for several reasons; a) they know better than to do what you are talking about or b) they do not see how it really affects them.

Some trainers dread instructing in-service. First you need to change your attitude. The material you are teaching most likely has some expensive raminifications to it if they do what they are not suppose to do.What you need to do is find that radio station everyone listens to WII-FM (What Is in It For Me)! You need to find something in the topic that is interesting and meaningful to your audience.

To give you an example, I had to teach a course on how to testify in court to a group of police officers who on the average had twenty plus years of experience testifying in court. They were already coming with the idea it was going to be more of the same; how to dress, saying yes sir and no sir and the standard line they normally are taught. I knew this was going to be a tough bunch so I decided to approach it from a different angle. No one likes to look foolish in front of their peers or other people espcecially cops. So I researched the topic from the viewpoint of a defense attorney as to the methods they use to make police officers look foolish and seem to stumble and maybe even sound untruthful. To make a long story short my method worked out just fine, the older officers loved it and started to add to what I had presented by giving stories of how attorneys in the past tried to trip them up. Everyone had fun and we all learned something new. Several of the skeptics came up to me after the presentation and told me how they had dreaded this two hour block on court testifying, but were now glad they came. So how do you find what radio station WII-FM your audience is tuned into?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When to Use Facilitation

When should you use the facilitation method? A facilitator helps the learning process along in contrast to standing in front of a group and lecturing. A facilitator takes a topic and involves each of the participants in arriving at a predetermined destination. A facilitator will ask probing questions and keep the learners focused on the end goal. A facilitator uses the collective wisdom of a group to achieve the desired results.  Think about what it is that you are trying to get across and if the facilitation method fits use it, if not, look to another method Have. you used the facilitation method before? What do you think of it and how have you used it?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Appeal to all of the Senses!

Now how does a trainer do that? Think about it for a minute, think back to your memories as a kid when your mom took a fresh baked pie out of the oven. I bet your mouth is already watering and you can smell the freshly baked apple pie now in your mind's eye.

When you are training someone try to engage as many of the senses as possible, this will help make the learning more significant to the trainee. Even in a lecture you can paint a story with descriptive language that the trainee can use to imagine. Look in any fashion magazine and you will find a scratch and sniff ad where you can smell their product; you can find scratch and sniff smells for almost anything now.

Sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing and imaging are all senses that you should try to envoke during your training, the more the better. How do you go about using the senses in your training and teaching?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Let the Message Dictate the Method

In deciding how to present your training topic it is always wise to let the message dictate your method of presentation. Some topics are best learned through an on-hands approach while others can be learned through a lecture approach. Now we know there are a number of ways to deliver information it is up to us to choose the most appropriate one.

The first thing you need to do is look specifically at what you are trying to achieve. Once you have decided what it is that you are trying to accomplish you then can look at the multitude of ways that this/these objective(s) can be transmitted to your student.

The more you can engage your student in the process the better the imprint of knowledge. You can do this by asking questions designed to make them think about what you have said, this is called the Socratic method, named after Socrates who asked probing questions of his students to get them to think and therefore gain an understanding.

Some topics require a physical component where the student actually participates or demonstrates a method or operation. Other topics can be presented just as effectively in a video mode or disguised as a video game.

So the method you use to present your material is dependent upon your objectives. If you know and understand your material then the choice of method will be easy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Makes a Good Trainer?

There are many attributes that go into making a good trainer. I posted a mini-poll listing just four of them: Enthusiasm, a sense of humor, knowledge and college degrees. Please take a minute and vote for the one you feel is most important. If it isn't listed there then add to this post what it is that you feel makes a good trainer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What better way?

Can someone tell me what better way there is to learn a topic other than teaching it. I have heard the old saying those that can, do and those that can't teach. I vehemently disagree with that statement. Those that can do, those that can make a difference teach is more like it. Now I am not talking about a run of the mill instructor, but one that really loves their work, subject and students. I have had many great instructor's over the years and have worked side by side with many.

I have found that you have to become very knowledgeable with the subject matter you are going to present; to do any less is performing a dis-service to you and those you are teaching.

This post is just to get some discussion going about training and teaching. Do you know a better way to learn a topic?