From the planning of your presentation to the final delivery of your message, here are seven great ways you can improve your training presentation skills.
Training Presentation Skills 1: Clearly Think Through the Structure First
Many people fail to plan before they begin creating a presentation. This is one of the most critical training presentation skills. They do not know their key points in their mind. Then the presentation ends up disjointed or ineffective.
Before starting, you need to be sure of exactly WHAT you are going to teach. You also need to be sure of HOW you are going to structure the presentation that will deliver it.
Years ago, when I was learning to teach English, a colleague told me a simple formula for teaching. I have remembered it since that day. He said:
1) Tell them what you’re going to tell them
2) Tell them
3) Tell them what you told them.
It sounds funny, but it’s still true!
You have to know your key purpose before you start designing your training program. Without clear objectives in your mind, you will fail. You may know you want to improve communication or build a better team. But you also need to know exactly what you want your participants to be able to do. When they leave your classroom what skills and applications do you want them to use?
Then, when you’re designing the program, make sure you reinforce the message. Don’t just tell them once what you want them to learn. Repeat the key message in different ways so that it is retained. Design your program with the minimum three parts: Theory, Practice and Review
The most important of these is practice! Give them lots of time to practice. At the end of the day, its not about what we tell them. Its about what they can do. And if they don’t practice it, they won’t be able to do it.
Training Presentation Skills 2: Keep it Simple
The most likely things in a classroom (hopefully) is that you know more about the subject that your audience. Due to this, it is also likely that you assume your audience knows more than it does.
So, a key training presentation skill is to make sure that your points are logical and step-by-step. As you build your presentation, ensure you include the background theory you need your audience to know. Even if you believe some of them may already know it, include it. It’s better than losing the audience because your ideas are too advanced for them.
For example, if you’re teaching people about communication, cover the basics about how people listen. Cover the poor natural ability of people to retain information. People may have heard this before. But it is helpful nonetheless. It reminds your participants of what they have probably forgotten and reinforces the value of their participation in your course.
Here’s the point: it is far worse to talk about something no one understands than it is to step back and deliver an introduction to that point that 50% of the people may already know. The 50% who know it already will forgive you but those who don’t understand may be lost for the entire presentation!
Also, reduce technical language as much as possible if your participants are unlikely to be as familiar with the terms as yourself. This is particularly true if your presentation is not being delivered to native speakers of your language.
Training Presentation Skills 3: Keep it Active
There is nothing worse than sitting through an entire morning of training with the facilitator whining on and on about his or her favorite subject. You may love what you are talking about when you are training, but I can guarantee that your audience would prefer to be doing something with what you’re telling them!
The fact of the matter is, that people are not great at listening. They love talking and they love doing, so use that to your advantage.
To make sessions interesting and fun, plan into your schedule plenty of activities. I would recommend no more than 30-40 minutes presentation, maximum, between exercises or activities.
Your training should go through a healthy cycle of theory, practice, theory, practice to keep it applicable and interesting to your audience.
Training Presentation Skills 5: Don’t Overdose
This is related to point one. Many trainers try to stuff in too much in one session. They do this because they might be unsure of timing or think their audience will be happy to move along quickly. This is not a great training presentation skill.
To avoid this, firstly make sure you have run through your presentation a couple of times before you deliver it. This will ensure you are confident of your timing.
As you are running through it, strip away all the clutter and extraneous material you do not really need to deliver to get your main points across. This will simplify the message and make the process smoother.
Giving your audience an overdose of material may seem like a good idea when you’re planning the session, but beware! It may either turn them off on what you’re delivering or dilute the key points with material that should not have made the final cut in the first place.
Training Presentation Skills 5: Plan Your Participant Interaction
An effective training presentation skill to ensure activity in your session is to actively plan your interaction with your audience. This is not just exercises, but breaking up your monologue with opportunities for the trainees to get involved with what you’re doing.
Joking and playing around with them helps to create a convivial atmosphere and setting up short, timely opportunities to call on participants as assistants or as examples is a good way to get people involved.
Plan your interaction by designing opportunities into your presentation whereby participant’ assistance is necessary or feedback is required. For example, try using the technique of getting your participants to answer open-ended questions so that they have to give you the information you need everyone to hear. It is better than simply telling them it and breaks the monotony of a single speaker.
Often it is far better to get participants to tell you something you want them to learn than it is for you to do so yourself. Letting other people be the wise one in the room is good for the team and great to get people participating in sections of your presentation that would otherwise be one-way communication.
Training Presentation Skills 6: Invite Challenge
On occasion, it can be difficult to know every form of resistance your participants may have to what they are learning. You cannot just ask “Do you understand?” or “Do you have any questions?” as this can often lead to silence in rooms where the participants are not used to speaking up.
What is sure, however, is that some people will have understood less than you would like and others may even be resistant to the ideas or skills you are teaching.
With this in mind it is often wise to build into your training an opportunity for people to bring up their doubts or queries in a way that the entire team can hear the answers. If a doubt exists, it is rare that only one person has it in their mind. Answering questions can put many participant’s minds at rest simultaneously.
Do not be afraid of vocal people in the room. Get them on board by including their ideas in the session and using them as a way to reiterate key teaching points you wish your audience to retain from your presentation.
Another way of achieving this interaction is to tease your participants with ideas or questions, related to the subject, that are obviously false or deliberately provocative. This creates a reaction in their minds and stirs debate in the team. During the debate you are able to explain your position clearly once again and overcome objections in front of the whole group.
Training Presentation Skills 7: Use Multimedia to your Advantage
In the twenty-first century it should go without saying that using multimedia effectively is one of the most useful training presentation skills. People love to look at things and listen to exciting sounds that convey a meaning, rather that one voice talking about a subject.
Your presentation materials should make good use of video backgrounds and musical intermissions when appropriate and there are many free and public domain resources on-line offering these kind of media these days.
This holistic sensual approach to conveying your training points aids retention and, at the very least, makes your training event look classy and of great value.
However, be sure to keep the training process personal and interactive. If it’s simply a string of videos, the audience might just as well watch it at home. Use your multimedia as a learning aid, not just a way to show off your technical acumen.
One of the nicest ways to integrate multimedia into your presentations is to use looping video backgrounds during exercises. These free backgrounds are easily located on the net and make your presentations look great. Using them during exercises is less distracting than it might be during the theoretical part of your training, although clever usage during the theory part also add dimension and quality to the whole event.
The author, Michael Paul Stephens is the founder of Provolution Consultancy, a Thailand-based corporate training business that helps companies build a better culture. His programs have helped thousands of people in diverse companies grow into strong and united teams.