As you design your presentation, remember that your instructional goal is to maximize the participants’ understanding and retention of the subject matter. Ultimately, the participants will learn more if they can focus their attention on the subject matter and make the ideas relevant to themselves. Four ways to maximize understanding and retention follow; try to use some or all of them as you present your lecture.
1. OPENING SUMMARY: At the beginning of the lecture, state (or summarize in writing) its major points and conclusions to help participants organize their listening.
Example: A trainer began a lecture on PERT (Program/Project Evaluation and Review Technique) with the following opening summary: “I’m going to give you a thumbnail sketch of PERT before we look at it in detail. PERT was developed by the Navy Department for the Polaris missile. It is useful in the planning, scheduling, and monitoring and control aspects of project management. In the planning phase, it requires you to list the tasks entailed by the project, calculate the gross requirements for resources, and make time/cost estimates. In the scheduling phase, it involves laying out the tasks in a time sequence and detailing schedule or resource requirements. In the monitoring and control phase, it entails reviewing the schedule and actual performance, revising the schedule if necessary, and assessing the likelihood of jeopardy and cost escalation. PERT can be employed in such applications as building construction, installing a computer system, or the end-of-month closing of accounting records. Now, let’s take a closer look at the process and examine when and how it works.
2. USE KEY TERMS: Reduce the major points in the lecture to key words that act as verbal subheadings or memory aids.
Example: A trainer was giving a presentation on supervisory styles. She decided to use these three catchy terms to describe alternatives open to supervisors:
Tell & Sell: In this mode, the supervisor explains to employees what is expected of them and why their cooperation is needed.
Tell & Listen: In this mode, too, the supervisor initially explains to employees what is expected but then asks for (and listens to) their feedback to his requests.
Listen & Tell: In this mode, the supervisor asks his employees to comment on the work they are doing, listens to their responses, and then tells them what he feels and wants.
3. PROVIDING EXAMPLES: As much as possible, provide real-life illustrations of the ideas in the lecture.
Example: In a course called “Selling to Your Client’s Style,” the trainer was teaching the personality types described in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), an instrument used widely to help people understand their personal style and the styles of others with whom they work. She was discussing the differences between a “Thinker” (T) type and a “Feeler” (F) type and illustrated the distinction with the following example: “A prospect who is a T will probably speak in a concise fashion, will appear to be firm and tough minded, likes to argue, and is focused on the bottom line. To be effective with a T, don’t ramble, be logical, and address objections head on. A prospect who is an F, on the other hand, will appear personable and friendly, takes time to get to know you, seems to like harmony, and is more interested in process than outcome. With such a person, it’s best to spend time getting to know the person, to be friendly and warm, to be affirming, and to understand that the prospect may have difficulty being critical and not reveal true feelings about your product or service.”
4. ANALOGIES : If possible, make a comparison between your material and the knowledge or experience the participants already have.
Example: An instructor in an adult education class on auto mechanics realized how frustrating it must be for people to understand how a car works. He found an interesting way to explain the sequence of events in, of all places, a children’s book. The instructional approach is performed entirely through analogies.
• The gasoline tank is like an oil can. The gasoline goes from here to the fuel pump.
• The fuel pump, which is like a water pump, pumps the gasoline to the carburetor.
• The carburetor, which is like a perfume atomizer, changes the liquid gasoline into a gasoline-and-air vapor, which goes to the cylinder.
• The cylinder is like a cannon with a piston in it.
• The spark plug, which is like a lighter, ignites the vapor in the cylinder. The vapor burns and expands quickly, pushing the piston down.