How can you prepare your Presentation? – Part 3 – Scripting

Now in the final installment of this article we’re going to look at the most polarizing method to prepare any presentation, particularly for teaching. Scripting a training presentation.

And yes it is exactly what it sounds like. Writing a script—each and every word that you will deliver in a presentation or in this case your lesson.

There is an opportunity to script some training presentations

By this definition this is an ‘extreme’ form of presentation preparation.  It’s a method that demands that you either fully commit to being in (and you say everything you have written) or that you don’t write a single phrase and you choose to follow an organic or queued approach. No in between!

Under normal circumstances scripting is just one of those things you just . . . Don’t . . . do. And when I say that I mean—ever!  In all of the time that I have ever been delivering training, I have never used a script . . . not once!

Being an awesome instructor means knowing your stuff; so your knowledge simply makes scripting redundant. You simply don’t need one!

Besides, imagine having an audience and rather than communicating with them completely—instead you spend your time reading from a script, or spitting out a bunch of words that you hope to remember from earlier.

Chances are it’s not a pretty mental picture. If you have an audience a script is the worst thing you can bring to the lesson.

But . . . What if there was a reason to have one?

Scripting can create doubt with your audience.
Using a script in front of an audience can create doubt

It’s the 21st century, and teaching is not just something that happens face to face any longer. We are now in the digital age, and trainees, students and clients don’t . . . need to be in class at any specific time.

Teaching has changed – In fact a lesson can be delivered at one time, and received at another completely.

Scripts are useful—When it comes to recording your training. And they are useful for two key reasons. The first reason is all about this exact topic . . . preparation. Excessive preparation! The ‘scripting’ of each and every single word that you’re going to say, and there is benefit.

Particularly when recording, a script will provide the opportunity to seamlessly put together your lesson with everything you need to communicate without all of the nuances that we all have, that only come out when we speak naturally.

Secondly, scripting provides one massive final benefit when it comes to recording lessons. A script acts as version control when it comes time to update your lessons from one version to the next. The script is the written record, of what you have presented.

The script is easy to update and edit as required and when it comes to version control, a script is the most valuable method you can use to prepare any lesson you can deliver.

How can you prepare your Presentation? – Part 2 – Detours & Diversions

Previously we looked at presenting from experience, now we’re going to see how to make sure we can Control a training presentation from the planning stage.

But we can’t always just go from experience, or we can’t always have the audience drive the training during discovery. Sometimes when it comes to new teaching we need to bring something more than ourselves to the class.

Sometimes there are concepts that are too complex to simply ‘talk’ about, or explain through with the use of a metaphor.

These more complex ideas need more than words, and often require the use of pictures, or other graphics or some other form of training aid.

Now imagine that you have a detailed picture, simple graphics or some other appropriate representation of a concept. Is the representation enough to explain itself? More often that not, it won’t. If they did, an instructor wouldn’t be needed.

Enter . . . the Queue.

The incomplete prompting point which leads to further expansion.

These typically find the most use, when more than a few points need to be remembered  in careful sequential structure, or when lots of small points need to be raised. Each point is easy to discuss but queues are used to maintain structure and sequence during training rather than be useful in their own right. The major point to be careful off from experience is to make sure that each queue has a stop point.

Queue cards can keep you on track
Queue cards can help plan and keep you on track

What is a stop point? This is the final piece of information that ‘completes’ that queue, before you look to the next queue.

Why do we need the stop point? Sometimes a queue can not only remind of where you are, but can lead to a flowing avalanche of information. Without a stop point to remind yourself ‘where to stop’ you can accidentally achieve flow and derail your entire presentation by getting out of synchronisation with your training aids. I’ve had this happen and the results are spectacularly bad!

There are also times when your teaching subject is naturally going to raise a lot of questions from your audience.

Detours & Diversions; The forks in the road. 

Some subjects especially ‘conditional’ or ‘grey’ matter can cause your audience to spend more time thinking about asking branching questions or ‘detours’ rather than focus on the subject being taught.

These are exactly what they sound like; detours that naturally want to take training away from the pre-determined lesson plan.

Your lessons may run into upcoming detours

When you deliver ‘grey’ or ‘conditional’ matter organically with high audience engagement, then detours are relatively easy to handle. The audience can ask an expected question and you can answer it quickly or it can be postponed to another time when it will be covered in more depth.

Control a training presentation is what its all about.

However there are times when a question is so obvious that it has to be handled either before the audience has a chance to ask it and take up time with discussion or;

An answer needs to be on standby as you attempt to skirt around the question in the hope of saving your time for the training itself. Either way detours are questions that you will need to prepare for with some subject matter.

In the next and final installment we look at how to and when to use scripting for presentation preparation

Why your Audience won’t Engage

Some days it’s Mac & Cheese and others it’s a slow cooked Beef Brisket with all of the trimmings. (Insert your own personal metaphor here!) I’ll explain as we go.

Find out some of the reasons your audience won’t engage in training.

The practice of instructing others so that they can gain independence, is many things. It is intimidating & a time intensive. It’s also a professional investment, and requires patience. It is also mentally demanding and because of that can be quite exhaustive.

But this article isn’t some rant about how teaching has some prices to pay before the investment reaps rewards. Not at all! Not everyone is cut out to instruct. But for those that are (and those that have), each lesson has the looming specter of attention loss in the background.

Boredom & Distraction are a threat to every lesson

I’m talking about the lack of, or refusal for ‘students’ to engage. The risky situation that no matter what your best efforts try to achieve, result in what is the worst case scenario for any instructor—attempting to teach an audience that simply isn’t ‘there.’

You see I’ve taught countless lessons, and I have literally (and legitimately) taught teenagers how to handle explosives, as well as other skills where the difference in a single digit can literally result in fatalities.

But those were some of the ‘easier’ subject to instruct on. These subjects were slow cooked beef brisket.

They were appealing, demanded respect and focus. Most of all they were easy to capture and maintain the attention of the audience.

But not everything is Beef Brisket!

There are other subjects that are Mac & Cheese . . . Boring! Necessary but Boring! The worst thing is that some of the material can be relatively simple to communicate—such as teaching a Sales specialist the difference between two products, and the consequences that come with getting them confused.

Beek Brisket

“But those were some of the ‘easier’ subject to instruct on. These subjects were slow cooked beef brisket.”

Despite having immediate needs for knowledge and consequences, sometimes, Mac & Cheese just won’t get accepted or eaten by your audience. Your audience will look at it & leave it there . . . saving themselves for something better!

And there it is! In this week’s video I go through some of the main reasons that students tune out, but it boils down to one simple thing. We pay attention to what’s, useful, important . . . sexy!

Sometimes subject matter just isn’t sexy! It’s about getting your audience to pay attention. So how do you get your audience to tune in to boring matter?

What is attention?

Attention is a cocktail of reward & tension. Your training regardless of the matter must ‘give’ something. There has to be a value & reward with it. There also needs to be the threat of ‘take’, that there must be consequence attached to it.

Is there anything  better?

If you constantly provide value and reward then this will likely be accepted as a sure thing and the audience tunes out. If you over embellish reward the audience will tune out. If there is nothing other than risk, then the audience will accept the downside outcome and tune out.

When you’re dealing with mac & cheese and can’t explain why, the audience won’t even sit down at the table. What I have found to work best when it comes to dealing with ‘Mac & Cheese’ is to show its value elsewhere.

And showing value needs to be done carefully. Explaining that a dry subject which wants to push your audience away has value will keep them interested for a bit longer, but context needs to be added carefully.

If you show the full value early then you’ve just given your audience the best part of your training early enough for them to disengage.

Building and escalating on value, while building the bigger picture tends to have the best results, until you can get into something more interesting . . . like some brisket!

Is Instructing Hard?

Is Instructing hard?

It seems like an overly general question to ask if instructing or teaching is hard but let’s ask it anyways.

“Is instructing hard?”

Asking a question like this—about a skill that you may or may not have started to develop or use is like asking—is it hard to land a plane?

A seasoned pilot will say ‘No.’ A person who has never thought of flying would say ‘Yes.’ When it comes to instructing on any skill the worst thing for most instructors will be simply; getting up in front of others and starting.

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