Everyone has been there, sitting through a presentation or training session and your mind is thinking about everything except what the speaker is saying. You struggle just to stay awake – feeling like Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown as they listen to their teacher drone on, “blah, blah, blah.” When it’s finally over, you have no idea what you were supposed to take away from the last two hours.
Now, you are the presenter/trainer/facilitator, and you have real knowledge to share. But adults, and kids for that matter, do not learn best by listening to you present. The “Cone of Learning” developed by Edgar Dale is well known by successful educators/facilitators. This intuitive model helps us to understand how much people remember based on how they encounter information:
By following a few simple principles of adult learning, your audience will not only pay attention, but also walk away with the knowledge you want them to retain.
- Preparation – Put your audience in the mindset of wanting to learn. This could be as simple as an invitation. No, not a meeting invite with just the date, time, and location. Create a theme for your learning session, and use it in an email or evite that personally invites them to the themed event – be creative.
- Presentation – This is not the two hour snoozer. Start with an ice-breaker to put your audience in the engagement mode, then present a brief overview of your topic and what this information will do for your audience.
- Practice – This is the fun part! Divide your audience into smaller groups and rotate them through learning stations. Again, these stations are not an opportunity for someone to talk at them. Set up activities like games, live demos, role playing – anything that gets the audience to participate in the discovery – this is the “say and do.”
- Performance – Build a support system for reinforcing on-the-job learning. Then, provide rewards for successful use. Remember, rewards can be as simple as recognition.
Learning should be fun and interactive – so create a memorable experience for your participants!