Moving on from the practical lessons which really engage with your audience and are generally lots of fun and activity – what about theory lessons?
How to make a boring or technical subject more interesting and engaging for your audience?
Starting with your vital information – the content that you really want to get across but as you know a shopping list is just not motivating or intriguing. Imagery is essential for this type of lesson and with technology this can come in many forms; such as pictures and videos as well as sound and models/parts to bring the subject to life. Many people use extracts from films to either lighten the mood or break down a difficult topic.
To that shopping list, to make it more interesting, add useful information to help with context and application as this will aid understanding.
Essentially what needs to be done is to build on the knowledge of the audience so linking with previous knowledge; something to ‘hang their hat on’ so to speak. This is ideally done with questions to explore the subject and gain feedback on the level of knowledge.
The use of questions to provoke thinking and challenge the audience to focus on the topic in hand (rather than be distracted by things around them or what they are doing later or what they left this morning!) is a way of creating participation and engaging with the audience. No-one likes to be lectured to (unless they are in University or higher-than-that education where the content is the all important element).
There are many different types of questions and the yes/no ones are the easiest but the worst to encourage participation. Using comparison or analogical questions supports the audience to transfer knowledge and giving them the link to that deep seated knowledge retention. Technical terms are harder to retain so it is essential that the understanding is there and links to more familiar words that are ‘in the ball park’.
Drawing on the experience and knowledge of the audience enables contributions from the audience and what is invaluable is when the trainer learns something new!
Evaluation of the lesson for trainers is the foundation of a good trainer – always learning from experience and improving on what didn’t go so well and retaining what went well, as well as incorporating any new learning. This keeps it fresh for the trainer and their own motivation levels high. If the trainer is going through the motions with out of date handouts, lack of knowledge or just ‘bored’ with the subject this will transfer to the audience and their experience will be poor.
Instil the desire to learn – the moto of all good trainers – leaving the audience wanting to know more and giving them the opportunity to do so with either references or additional courses/learning being available from the trainer.
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