It’s easy when we’re trying to present something new, particularly in a training environment, to be overwhelmed by all there is to know and say on the subject. In fact, I’m often asked by trainers, “How do I cover all the information I have to share in the limited time I have?” I usually answer with something like, “Don’t even try.” That is, don’t try to “cover” it all. The whole point of getting a group of people together in a room, whether it’s a real or virtual room, is to build, draw, and mine the value of everyone being together, sharing their experience and real time insights together.
With the advent of the Internet and email, it’s real easy to share information all across the planet online. So what I like to do is put everything I know down in writing and share that with my groups before the training. Then during the training event, I can devote that time to following the groups’ interest and energy around the material that most interests them. I can also use the time to have the group “doing” something active or interactive that adds to their learning rather than asking them to passively receive data.
Running trainings this way is in some ways more challenging for me as a facilitator in that no two trainings on the same subject are ever the same as each group brings their own experience, interests, and information to the party. Leaving room for us to interact on the material, new and fresh content relevant to this group is often “co-created” between me and my participants.
Finally, it’s OK to leave the audience wanting a little bit. It’s better for them to leave hungry and curious rather than overwhelmed and confused!
Put Engaged Learning Ahead of Content Delivery
Suppose you have an hour to present all there is to know about conflict resolution? You just happen to be an expert on this. You have at least 10 key points you want to deliver, about 5 examples, and you can talk on this subject for 60 minutes nonstop with no problem. You are concerned about how to present this in the time allowed.
Try putting yourself in the seat of your participants. Then ask yourself, “Which two or three things on this subject you’d like to leave with if you were one of them?” Deliver these points using your planned activities. Then pull additional details from your audience through questions and discussion. This approach assures that the audience leaves with the major points you want them to have, and it also allows them to generate and share additional details in accordance with their immediate needs. Rather than being overwhelmed with data they’ll likely soon forget, they will instead leave feeling excited about what they’ve learned and/or practiced!
I’ve also included a short five minute video below that covers virtually same “content” in another way. It talks about how to manage fitting all the content you need to teach into the time you have. This short lesson looks at both practical tips and shifts in your attitude about content that will help you with this dilemma.
The next time you have something to present, try this. Limit your agenda to no more than three major points per hour. Focus on creating opportunities for your audience to demonstrate to you and each other that they do in fact understand the material. This change in perspective will do wonders for your presentation. Not to mention your audience attention span! I’m interested in hearing what happened. Please share your experiences, comments, questions, and suggestions on this topic in the comments section below.