Ten Teaching & Training Tricks That Stick
Bill Cottringer

“No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.” ~Peter Drucker.

Although Peter Drucker has a good point, having a full bag of teaching and training tricks can certainly help improve the learning for everyone involved. Below are ten tried and true teaching and training tricks that stick like duct tape. This short list is just from my experience and so if these don’t have any resonance value for you, I challenge you to make your own list!

1. Don’t try to teach or train others on a topic or subject that you aren’t an expert on from ample personal experience that you know about in your bones. Learning occurs in two stages: (a) you first learn something in your mind well enough to practice it personally to get good results, and (2) then you get challenged by more difficult situations to apply the learning well enough to teach and train others, because you now know it in your head, heart, and hands.
2. Take the time to get to know your audience as to what they already know, how they best learn, and what they are interested in. It is much easier to expand what we already know as opposed to learning something new which we never knew. Also, we each have our own unique learning style—seeing, hearing, or handling—as well as having different interests in topics or aspects of a subject, which motivates the learning. When all these pieces of the puzzle fit together, learning will be better remembered and used more.
3. Make time for small talk to warm up to the deeper stuff. And beginning things with a funny story or joke that is relevant to your presentation is always a good icebreaker to win over the audience’s attention and favor. Practice some animated joke delivery beforehand, if this isn’t comfortable.
4. If possible, always do a short true-false pre-test to measure what the audience already knows about what you are trying to teach or train on. Then review answers to let you know what to focus on. Although it may be cumbersome, but the best teaching and training uses both pre-test and post-test measurement to show actual learning gains from the teaching and training.
5. Teaching and training are slightly different animals. Teaching involves planting knowledge seeds that can be nurtured, grown, and harvested later. Training is practicing operating principles of how things and people work, to get better results in immediate performance.
6. Collect concrete and resonant examples from your own and other’s experience to use strategically, which can magnify your subject and make it easier for people to relate to. This also helps build your credibility as an expert, which can facilitate learning rather than inhibit it with doubts as to whether or not you know what you are talking about.
7. Leave plenty of time for good questions and listen carefully to what is being asked, because the right answer might guarantee a higher learning curve than expected. After all, most people are very well-tuned into listening to answers to their own questions.
8. If you are using PowerPoint slides, keep them short and use simple language that summarizes your point, with appealing graphics or pictures that are complimentary. And always have a brief footnote to speak on separately, which adds value to the slide. Consider accumulating good quotes that summarize each aspect in a single sentence that can be easily remembered.
9. Today, people’s attention is limited so you have to get it and hold it before it slips away. Using likeable communication with psychologically-packed, colorful sound bites is the best use of your own and the audience’s time. Enhance audience support with a climate that conveys the positive qualities of equality, freedom, tentativeness, acceptance, spontaneity, and empathy and avoid their opposites which cause defensiveness and shuts down listening.
10. Have some short and easy form for the audience to complete in providing useful feedback about your presentation to help you improve. Measure things like how likely they are to use the learning in their lives, relationships, and work; will they recommend the teaching or training to others; what were the best and worst aspects; how was the overall impact; and one suggestion for improvement.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~Benjamin Franklin.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (206) 914-1863 or ckuretdoc.comcast.net.