Presentation Skills Training: REDEFINED. (Part 4 of 5)

March 12, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Training

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5

This is the fourth in a series of five blog posts focusing on the skill-building approach business presenters need.

As I said in the first post of this series, if you find yourself in a presentation skills workshop where you are not working on preparing and delivering a real-life presentation, pack up your things and leave the class. I feel comfortable making this assertion because improving your skills as a business presenter is all about nuance and flexibility. Neither can be fully appreciated unless you’re working with content that’s real to you.

When I was teaching Public Speaking 101 to college students I was frustrated by the fact that my job was to teach students about public speaking, not developing their skills in public speaking. Granted speeches were delivered in class, but they were almost always merely another academic exercise for the students. For the most part, they didn’t care all that much about the topic they spoke about. They were interested in getting a decent grade.

You certainly can’t blame the students for that, but each grade had to be determined by behaviors that were objectively and fairly measured. This leads to standardization, prescriptive delivery, and speeches that very rarely had a demonstrable effect on audience or speaker alike.

Business presenters need something very different than that.

When you deliver a presentation, you’re doing something that is very much a part of your job. Your audience is equally invested in the presentation and its outcomes because it’s their job to be that way. What needs to happen during a presentation skills workshop, then, must recreate that environment as fully as possible. That begins, of course, with the topic of the presentation each person is working on.

When training opens up to an examination of real-life topics and audiences, the workshop can focus on subtleties like these.

  • When you prepare your presentations, are you able to focus on the audience’s need to understand what you’re presenting or are you simply focused on the information itself? Focusing on audience understanding is not intuitive for most presenters because it requires a hard look at familiar content from another’s perspective. That’s a necessary, but not always easy process.
  • Another issue concerning preparation: do you tend to over-prepare because you’re after absolute accuracy or do you tend to under-prepare because you understand the content so well? Understanding and adapting to what comes naturally to you is crucial for improvement.
  • During delivery, how does your familiarity with your content affect your ability to explain it to someone else? Do you go too quickly, making too many assumptions? Do you go into more detail that anyone needs? Are you able to adjust to the level of knowledge or interest of audience members? These questions can only be answered through practice and feedback using real-life content during the training process.

These are some of the issues that need to be surfaced during your training.

In the final post in this series, I’ll discuss how the coaching you receive during your training must focus on what you bring into the class as much as what you take away from it.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 5

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

During Training: It’s not always about the right answer

June 27, 2011 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Facilitation, Training

When we’re working with trainers on their facilitation skills, one of the common issues we see is the trainer’s attempt to get to the “right” answer as quickly as possible. No matter how subtle or complex the question might be, many trainers are frantic to get past A so they can get on to B.

We’re all guilty of this—especially when time is running short and we need to move on. So, when one of our learners responds in a way that meets our immediate need, we simply say, “Thanks, that’s right” and move on.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this is just what needs to happen. But not all the time.

Trainers should question whether they’re looking for the right answer to meet their needs or their learners’ needs. If the trainer isn’t taking the learners’ needs into account, seeking just the right answer will discourage learners and learning. It will place too much focus on what’s happening now in the training room instead of what will be happening when learners are back on the job. If you make it all about you and the workshop, you’re missing the point.

As trainers, we need to be open to nuance. We need to look for the exceptions to the rule—especially after the rule is understood by the people we’re training. Perhaps most of all, we need to be comfortable letting discussions go into territory that is unknown to us. And, yes, maybe getting to questions that we ourselves can’t answer. Doing so will help learners in these ways:

  • They will feel respected.
  • They will learn how to think on a deeper level about what they’ve learned.
  • They will see that live, interactive training doesn’t only provide information, but deep insight as well.

So the next time you’re facilitating a discussion and you hear someone say just what you want to hear, consider what might be gained if you stick with this topic just a little longer.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication