“Reduced speaking! Impossible!” was my first thought. However, sitting quietly for several hours had me rethinking this assignment and realizing that some good things might come from it. My mission in life is to improve the quality of instruction for learners of all ages. While I have very valuable lessons to share, I don’t always have to share them with my voice. And, if I reflect on the best learning experiences I have facilitated, I can see that the common strength is hearing the learners’ voices as much as my own.
So how do you determine the right balance? Here are 3 sure-fire signs that you are talking too much.
- During a 45-minute or longer presentation session, your audience members are never asked to turn and talk to their colleagues about your topic. To make any information meaningful and “sticky,” learners must make personal connections to it and restate it in their own words.
- During a 45-minute or longer presentation session, your audience members are never given time to pause and think about what you’ve said – even perhaps writing a quick reflection or action plan. A well-planned pause can add emphasis, anticipation, and variety to a full presentation, as well as increasing retention.
- During a 45-minute or longer presentation session, your audience members are never provided a chance to watch video of another expert or experience, explore an infographic or intriguing image or respond to an interactive web tool such as www.mentimeter.com or www.answergarden.com Any of these various methods for sharing information gives your voice a break and your listeners a change in learning style. Neuroscientists tell us that when we learn through a variety of modalities, we are more likely to be able to retrieve the information later.
Thankfully, my laryngitis is now gone. But I am also thankful for the time to reflect on my speaking practices and remember the power of learners’ voices.