Variety works when teaching adults in sessions that last longer than ten minutes. While it is important to use multiple methods for content delivery, each of the most popular has advantages and disadvantages. Successful presenters and facilitators take these into consideration when designing and conducting presentations or classes.
Click here for my chart on the 10 most popular methods, their advantages and disadvantages, and tips for making these methods most effective.
Webinars have a well-deserved reputation for being dry, slow, and an opportunity for multi-tasking. Let’s destroy that reputation and add some simple ways to wake people up and increase learning. I call these more powerful webinars "Engaginars."
Here are screenshots of 3 slides that I used in a recent webinar to get attendees participating. (I use dozens of other ideas, too. Check out this blog post to learn more and/or join me for my presentation at ATD2018.) The concepts are applicable to any content you are presenting in your webinar, and each has research to support its use.
Astros or Dodgers? No matter which team you root for, baseball fans and trainers everywhere can learn some important lessons from this series.
1. Warm Ups are Essential
The wear and tear on the muscles during a long season is a major concern. Proper warm ups help to prevent muscle damage and lost time in the game. Neuroscientists and learning researchers tell us that this is true for ongoing professional learning, too. Warming up the neural pathways by activating prior knowledge will ensure that your players stay in the game.
Here’s a favorite warm-up exercise.
2. Highs and Lows are Common
The lead shifts back and forth during the game, giving fans a marathon of highs and lows. This roller coaster of emotions keeps us on the edge of our seat, wondering what is next. Successful trainers build this tension into ongoing professional learning activities. Debates, inconsequential competition and humor are all simple ways to add an emotional element that will keep your learners coming back for more.
3. Some people need extra innings
The unpredictability of the game is balanced by a structure that allows for adaptability. Extra innings, while unusual, are occasionally necessary. Game 5, with its 10 inning marathon, lasted as long as it took to get to the win. Successful trainers proactively build in structures that allow for learners to advance at different paces.
4. Errors Happen
The longer the game runs, the more likely errors will occur. Most trainers can be at the top of their game for a brief presentation, but long-term, multi-session classes are likely to show up a few weaknesses. Have you considered what yours are? Is it group management? Adding in movement? Infusing variety? Players get coached on error patterns. What are you doing to reduce yours?
Check out some group management tips here.
5. Expect fly balls
Fly balls occur almost 50% of the time during a game. Fielders try to anticipate the fly, get under it as quickly as possible and be in perfect position to catch it. Successful trainers also anticipate questions that will be flying at them and are prepared to provide solid answers.
Here’s a recommendation for how to field questions.
6. Endurance is Necessary
By the time the World Series begins, pitchers and other players are approaching the edge of what the body can tolerate. The winners must have incredible physical and psychological endurance. Facilitating a multi-session class also requires endurance. Adult learners need our very best performance at each session, not just during the first. Try adding novelty to each session to invigorate everyone involved.
7. Celebrations are Valuable
Teammates are frequently seen sharing their excitement over the small wins. Whether it is a high five in the dug out or an excited scrum on the field, celebrations don’t need to wait until the big parade. Smart trainers find or create small moments to celebrate learner contributions and growth. I keep a stash of Lifesavers, Paydays and other inexpensive items to toss out as a thank you for contributions to the group. I also will ask my participants to join me in a round of applause for someone who has been a good sport. These little moments matter and add to the overall feeling of success.
Do you have adult learners in your classes or seminars that have difficulty staying on task?
Neuroscientists tell us that the act of reflecting on your learning and seeing progress towards a goal releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine* is the neurotransmitter linked to sustained attention and perseverance.
Help your learners stay on task by using the Progress Bar strategy. At the beginning of the class, provide participants with a progress bar handout. Ask them to write in their learning objectives for the course, and then reflect on their current knowledge or skill related to that objective. Next, direct them to shade in a percentage,0% representing no knowledge and 100% representing expert knowledge. Midway through the class, ask them to reflect again and shade in their progress. As you near the end of the day, ask them to do one final reflection.
As an added bonus, progress bars provide you with information about how confident your learners feel and who may need additional instruction.
*Dopamine is also considered one of the “feel good” chemicals.
For a Progress Bar Handout click here.
Have you played the popular app game 4 Words 1 Pic? The goal is to guess the common word that connects all four pictures that are shown on the screen. For example, what word do you think connects the four pictures below?
While trying to solve the puzzle, you were activating your prior knowledge about the topic, looking for similarities and differences, and summarizing your thinking into one essential word. This process is extremely beneficial for learners of all ages and helps to cement information. (If you guessed “sleep” you are correct!)
How easy this puzzle strategy is to add to your live presentations or webinars. Simply search copyright free images on Google or another site using a key word in your presentation. For example, if you want to emphasize the word teamwork, you might present something like this:
Too easy? Adjust the level of challenge to keep everyone engaged! For added emphasis, present several puzzles in a row that build to the most important message, like this:
Give it a try! I'd love to see the slides you create, so Tweet them and tag me @annebeninghof. For more ideas of how to weave puzzles into your presentations, click here.
A) use your hands while you speak?
B) use an iPad to demonstrate and reflect annotations?
C) need your hands free to hand out prizes, materials or to offer a high five?
D) do two or more of the above?
A, B, and C all apply to my presentation style. Thankfully, for most of my presentations, I have a wireless, clip-on microphone so that my hands are free. While I always ask my client in advance for a clip-on mic, I occasionally show up at a presentation site that does not have one. I feel so restricted by having to hold a microphone during my presentation.
I found a solution! About a month ago I purchased a hands-free brace to carry with me. It only weighs a few ounces and takes up very little room in my case. Just last week I arrived at a location and was given a hand-held mic to use for the day. No worries! I just whipped out my brace, and was ready to go. It was comfortable, effective and left my hands free to do anything else I needed. Well worth the $9.00 to be prepared!
For more ideas, check out my blog on gestures and my blog on a great annotation tool for presenting with an iPad.
Quiet reflection can be a productive learning and problem solving strategy, especially for introverts. In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain provides a compelling argument for our need to seek ways to more proactively include employees who are not as extroverted or assertive about their ideas.
Collaborative Annotation, also known as trio annotation, is a structured approach for sharing thoughts without the cacophony of a group discussion. Here’s how it works:
I have used this strategy twice in the last few weeks and found that the resulting discussion and ideas were richer and more productive than would have occurred if we had gone right to discussion first. It clearly made it easier for the introverts in the group to have their voices heard.
Looking for an easy, novel approach to brainstorming?
A way to get all of your participants actively engaged?
How about a strategy that requires NO PREP?
If so, then Blanket the Table is for you.
The August 21st solar eclipse will be the biggest American weather event to hit the US in a very long time. Everyone is talking about it – at the water cooler, at schools and over family meals. It will be exciting and unforgettable – exactly what public speakers want from their moment on the stage.
However, one definition of an eclipse brings a different perspective.
Eclipse - the loss of significance, power or prominence in relation to another person
Should presenters want to be in the spotlight or, instead, develop parity with their audience? Malcolm Knowles, considered the father of androgogy, posited that adult learners need recognition of and respect for their background experiences. When presenters make the learning all about themselves as the experts, we dishonor the expertise in the room. Instead, intentionally allowing an eclipse of your prominence can engage adult learners in significant ways.
Here are 3 simple ways to foster a presenter eclipse:
For more ideas about increasing audience engagement, click here.
True or False? Two heads are better than one.
My answer is “it depends.” Co-presenting is a wonderful opportunity to utilize the talents and experience of two people to increase engagement and learning of the audience members. However, this only happens when both trainers are actively engaged in the teaching process. Frequently I find that one is lecturing while the other is seated, just waiting for their turn to talk. How much better the experience can be when both are supporting the learning simultaneously!
How does this work? There are three prerequisites for success:
There are unlimited ways that two adults can co-present. Here are five of my favorites. For my entire list, click here. I keep this list on my presentation table as a reminder card when I am co-presenting.
Click here for more ideas on great presenting.
Interested in active, engaged adult learners? Work with me to improve training and facilitation skills. Click here to see the ways I can support you.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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