Q: I just attended industry training. It was technically accurate and helpful, but not the most interesting. The bottom line is: Does technical content have to be so boring?!
A: I frequently hear this question from managers, instructors and especially students. Over the next several months, ways to improve technical training skills and make your classroom training topnotch will be explored.
In today’s intensely competitive business climate, the difference between success and failure is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Why are technical training sessions so often dry and bland? Many engineers, when faced with giving a talk, do so with a minimum of preparation—perhaps because they feel that the topic is so cut and dried that a straightforward recitation of the facts is sufficient. But it is not. If your voice drones or the content lacks excitement, your audience will be bored. You will lose them early on in the training.
When topics are not inherently interesting, it’s the presenter’s job to find ways to organize information and experiences in a way that gets, and keeps, the audience’s attention. Instructors have several choices to make when presenting content.
A recommended blend is the Modified Lecture, which incorporates many other methods of presenting with the necessary lecture. Modified lecture is effective because it encourages group participation and generates some form of discussion.
There are two basic categories for instruction. There is the active participation and the passive participation. Anything that transfers knowledge in a one-way stream is considered passive. Active requires the student to interact, to some degree, with the instructor and participate in the session,
The most common form of instruction is pure lecture. This method requires that the instructor plan content to be delivered to the class through oral presentation. The benefits of a lecture are clear. There is complete control over the learning environment. The content is well-prepared and easily delivered. This makes it easier to disseminate a lot of material which is usually necessary for students when trying to understand a broader topic.
The demonstration is also a passive method. This is where an instructor steps out of lecture to demonstrate a concept with the hope that students will benefit from seeing the steps put into action. This method requires careful planning and implementation on the part of the instructor. Demonstrations require a positive position so that all of the students feel involved in the presentation.
You need to always describe actions before taking them. Discuss as thoroughly as is appropriate, the steps involved in the next action and reasoning behind them. Then take the steps and return to a position to present to the class.
There are other passive methods such as video or film. These are often not the best choice since putting students in a dark room with a possibly poor movie can create a sleepy environment, not conducive to instruction. However, multimedia technologies that integrate higher quality video segments into a presentation software package have changed the use of video to a more positive experience.
A look at active methods next month.
Connie Moorhead is the President of The CMOOR Group and founder of SecurityCEU.com, Louisville, KY. CMOOR is a full-service education solution provider, custom online content development and Webinar service firm focusing exclusively on the security, manufacturing, and construction industries. SecurityCEU is an industry certification resource and online continuing education provider. Send your training questions and needs to firstname.lastname@example.org.