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Now Class, Listen Up

Training tips for nontrainers

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

You don’t always need to hire high-priced trainers to teach your employees new skills. You may be the most qualified instructor.

Here are some tips to sharpen your teaching:

Ask for input. Before you begin, invite the participants to tell you what and how they prefer to learn. Some may request handouts or self-study booklets; others may like online resources. Tailor your presentation to your group. That way, you can introduce the session by saying, “I developed this based on your feedback.”

Let them talk, move, write. If you stand at the head of the class and blab, you’ll kill the group’s curiosity and mental engagement. It’s better to keep the participants busy at regular intervals.

A cardinal rule of adult learning is that whoever does the most talking, moving and writing also absorbs and retains the most information. That means every few minutes, you should ensure the group is either speaking up, standing and stretching, or taking notes or completing exercises or quizzes.

Give questions, not answers. You may know more than the group, but that doesn’t mean you should show off. Like Aristotle, guide your students by posing thoughtful, searching questions. Make them grapple with the subject rather than spoon-feeding them. And don’t reel off a string of questions at once; let them respond to one at a time.

Save time to debrief. Adults tend to retain a small portion of what they hear. But when they can talk about it, they will remember it. Give your employees the opportunity to meet in break-out groups and review what they’re learning.

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