Linda F. Willing
P.O. Box 148
Grand Lake, CO
Teaching Decision Making When helping others learn how to make good decisions, you must create a safe and clear framework for letting them practice. Captain D. Michael Abrashoff of the USS Benfold used the following criteria: Could the decision a) kill someone, b) injure someone, c) waste taxpayers' money, or d) damage the ship. If so, he as the captain needed to be involved in the decision making process. If not, he encouraged all members of the crew to try to solve problems for themselves.
Source: It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by D. Michael Abrashoff.
Beyond Basics Drilling on basic skills is great, but can sometimes be too much of a good thing. To maintain certifications and basic competencies, certain essential training goals must be met, but even within these requirements, training can go to the next step. Yes, it's good to do routine hose drills, but if everyone is highly proficient at a required level, don't bore people to death by doing the same thing over and over. Add variety and real world challenges to basic drills, and you'll see interest and skill levels go up.
Gone Fishing Some instructors try to encourage class participation by fishing for specific answers to questions they pose. In some cases they will state a sentence with one word missing, that the audience is supposed to fill in. But this can be a dangerous teaching style. If the class gets the answer wrong, it causes embarrassment and confusion. It can also be tedious to be led in this way toward a specific outcome, rather than allowed to think more freely. Fishing for answers can be effective at times, but use the technique carefully, and very sparingly.
Early Release Never underestimate how long a class or lecture will take. If you have a presentation that you believe will take 45 minutes to deliver, schedule at least an hour of time. If you don't need the extra time to make up for delays or questions, you can dismiss the group early. People love to get out from class earlier than expected, but get very upset when having to stay late. Establish expectations accordingly.
Watch Your Time When preparing a presentation, remember that what takes you 15 minutes to deliver during your rehearsals will take significantly longer to deliver in real time. There are always delays, interruptions and other factors which make the available time less than what you expect. Plan ahead by adding about 20% onto the time you think your presentation will take, and you will avoid having to rush through to finish.
Leave Them Alone After basic skills are taught, it is often a good idea to let people practice on their own as they gain expertise. When an instructor is always looking over someone's shoulder, that person can become more concerned with not making a mistake rather than really learning something new. As with new pilots, confidence and mastery come through soloing.
State Your Goals At the beginning of every training session, it is a good idea to explicitly state the goals for the class. This gives participants a sense of what to expect and what the overall themes of the class will be. Once the goals are stated, it is critical that they be met. Always do a final check that the course content and the goals are consistent. If necessary, revise the goals to match the actual content of the class.
Extra Handout Material It is fine to include more handout material than you actually have time to deal with directly in class. Background articles and references or additional "homework" activities are often valuable. However, if you have a class outline, you should finish it during the allotted class time. If extra material is included, you should briefly explain its content and purpose, even if you don't go over it in detail.
Credit Your Sources Whenever using information that has been taken from another source, always cite that source in your presentation and your materials. It is especially important to do this on printed handout materials. The reason for this is two-fold: it is unethical to take credit for someone else's work, and you also want to give your students the opportunity to follow up directly with the source if they want more information.
Watch Your Language Some presenters try to appear knowledgeable by using words that are not really familiar to them. The use of obscure terms or complex words may come across as awkward or confusing at best, but even worse is when a presenter uses these words in inappropriate ways. Then an instructor just looks foolish, and the effect undermines other real value in the class. It is always best to stick with clear, simple language that feels natural to you as a speaker and which your audience will readily understand.
The Perfect Slide 2 More tips for good slide presentations:
The Perfect Slide Consider these general rules when creating slides for computer presentations:
More slide tips next month.