Course instructors tasked with training utility or public sector employees on complex (read: critical but dry) topics may find themselves at a loss. To run a successful operation, your audience must become versed in accounting standards or business processes or internal controls or policies and procedures or one of a hundred more topics that could easily put the most caffeinated course participant to sleep.
Effective training measures are both in the eye of the participant and in the end result – post-training retention of the course materials and application of the concepts. As a trainer, you strive to provide effective courses the first time, and if you recognize a situation where that hasn’t happened, to never present ineffective training twice. Audience feedback is key to building sustainable, effective training courses and converting poor content and presentation method to great and engaging.
Here are tips for cultivating and deploying effective – and interesting – training techniques to keep your participants engaged and increase their knowledge retention and operational success:
Feedback from training class participants through speaker and class evaluation processes is a building block in developing effective course materials and presentation formats and topics. Positive feedback is always appreciated but so too should trainers welcome less than stellar comments. While constructive or negative evaluation feedback may be uncomfortable to hear, it’s a necessary tool for course instructor growth.
A few key course evaluation questions can be fodder for future course tweaking or additional information. Some effective questions, to be rated on a scale of 5 (best) to 1 (worst), include:
Responses to these simple questions can be filled out in mere minutes, giving the presenter honest, open and sometimes humble to hear food for thought.
The days of lengthily PowerPoint decks with bulleted data should be a thing of the past. During product launches, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously paired one-word slides with several minutes of dialog on the word’s meaning and focus with the inclusion of pictures, video and other visuals. In addition to a trainer’s magnetic personality, other tools and methods are available to engage audiences.
Content is the key to any effective presentation. That may seem obvious, but fighting the urge to regurgitate technical material can be difficult. When preparing your materials, put your mind in the seat of the participant of your class, seminar or webinar and enhance highly technical content by making it:
Variety and interaction are important in presentations. Most participants will be digitally oriented, so an instructor-focused session will not always be as engaging. Consider breaking the presentation in 15 to 30-minute segments with each consisting of a:
This format follows the logic of the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method used to enhance productivity and focus. Centered on the average individual having a 25-minute attention space, tasks are broken up into 25-minute segments to allow for greater focus on materials and future retention.
There’s no app to replace the hands-on work of practicing your presentation. For a seamless approach, practice the physical transition between the software presentation tool, the switch to video presentations and then to audience participation tools. Practice will provide you with a stress-free presentation and enhance your participant’s learning experience. Tablets and laptops are great tools to use for smooth transitions.
No exclusive magic formula for giving memorable presentations exists. Study the tools used by prominent presenters and take to heart the feedback of your past performances. These activities will help you develop an effective presentation style that’s satisfying and beneficial for you, your class participants and the operational success of their utilities and public sector organizations – regardless of the course topic.
For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly energy and utility specialists can help, contact our team.