Teaching techniques for a business training session: Teaching tips that can help make your session more productive
Thinking about offering a business training seminar?
Business and teaching may seem like highly distinct professions, but the truth is they often overlap during a training session. In the business world, technology continues to evolve rapidly, so professional development strategies are offered quite frequently.
Rather than simply lecture, however, a corporate trainer should develop a repertoire of teaching tools that can help a range of audience types grasp the session’s main points. The educational world recognizes at least twelve learning styles, so try something different to appeal to the varied learning types among attendees. Here are a few techniques that may prove fruitful:
1. Use visual aids. From a one-page handout to a flip chart, visual support graphics can help your audience appreciate a complex idea. Use colors if possible. Occasionally reference your graphic in making a point, but don’t bounce your audience between the graphic and the speaker or they may become confused. Use the graphic at the beginning or end of a point delivery.
2. Offer role playing opportunities. Acting out case studies or potential real-life scenarios gives your audience “hands on” experience before they have to do it in real life. You can prepare a dialog in advance or have them make it up as they go along in response to a short scene description of your offering.
3. Use movement. Arrange materials or a problem solving activity at several tables. Divide participants into small groups (4 to 6 is ideal) and assign each group to a table. After an allotted amount of time, say 15 minutes, call “time” and have groups rotate to the next table for another exercise. After 30 minutes or so, ask groups to compare findings from one table activity to the next. Groups may experience different observations, depending on your goal for them.
4. Stress verbal skills. Studying language syntax and semantics can be meaningful in its own right. Apply it to the study of various documents and you can generate powerful discussion and debate. Ask participants to compare two reports, for example, and discuss which is better, and why, focusing on the linguistic construction of each. One that is poorly worded will come across as a weaker document than one that is not.
5. Include math. Formulas, patterns, and simple equations can be a great way to involve attendees in measurements, comparisons, and problem solving skills. Set up an activity that requires the use of mathematical exercises, even if it is a simple word count of two reports. Is the longer or the shorter more effective? Why?
6. Stress interaction. Invite attendees to offer opinions, assist with exercises, take quizzes, talk in small groups, work problems, and offer session evaluations at the end of your time together. A hands-on approach is very useful in getting participants involved with the topic and letting them try it out before taking a technique back to the real world of jobs and clients.
7. Take contradiction politely. If someone offers a conflicting opinion, remain courteous rather than becoming belligerent:
“I hadn’t heard that statistic before, but I’ll check into it. Thanks for raising that point.”
Then be ready to check the facts after your presentation and adjust your session for next time, if applicable.
8. Provide take-away value. Handouts, folders, a reading list, and other resources give attendees extra value for their investment of time and money. Everyone likes the “treat bag” mentality of getting a little extra something that will stay with you beyond the session.
Training resembles teaching in the goal of sharing valuable information that can improve an employee’s job. Experiment with techniques like these to make your next session multi-faceted with appeal to a wide range of learning styles.