I just read recently that if you spend long enough following someone on social media you’ll learn who they truly are—they’re political alignment, they’re sense of humor, they’re beliefs etc. To an extent I find this to be true, especially when someone’s back is up to the wall, you’ll see their true nature. You’ll see what they will do to survive, and who they’ll sacrifice along the way or . . . you will see something extraordinary.
You also get to learn about people as they observe things. There are those who will watch the world go by and criticize everything around them without knowing anything about what they’re talking about, and then there are those who will blindly say that everyone is simply trying their best no matter what the outcome or effort is—and they are only two ends of the spectrum.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
More often than not there is more than one way to get something done. Preparing a training presentation is no different.
I start with the lesson plan so that I know what is going to be covered. Then it’s time to think about the audience and where I’m going to give the training. Finally then I’ll be able to think about what I’m going to put in front of the people I’m teaching.
It’s a flow. A process! If one thing changes during planning then so does the final product, and training is a product.
One subject, can be delivered numerous different ways to achieve slightly different outcomes. Whether it be to teach for the first time, revise, or to discover amongst an audience who already have some form of subject awareness.
Go with the Flow
Now, there are going to be times when you’ll be able to deliver your training without any formal presentation. These sessions are great, because they demands flow & presence while being fluid enough to adapt to your audience in real time.
These are what I like to call the ‘organic’ presentation,or ‘organic’ teaching. These also can come across like you’re; making it up as you go, because in effect during the delivery of the training, that’s what it looks like is happening.
However from a preparation point of view, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact when training like this comes off so seamlessly to make it appear like you’re making it up as you go, then that’s the ultimate compliment, especially when your audience comes away with having learn’t the training objectives.
But thinking that an instructor is making it up as they go is as wrong as you can be. These lessons are not just prepared or rehearsed, but the subject matter is so well known that only a seasoned subject matter expert in the material can even truly attempt to deliver a training in this manner often after having delivered these individual lessons previously.
So just do it from experience!
So if these lessons require so much skill and can only be done by true ‘subject matter experts’ then surely the ‘organic’ design and delivery are the way to go right?
Hold on for a second before you pass that conclusion. A delivery style, just like a lesson type and all of the other variables that go into teaching are part of a great big toolkit to the instructor. Organic preparation and delivery is all good, but its only a single method and it has weaknesses.
So what are they?
Organic approaches naturally tend to be geared toward a higher ‘caliber’ of trainee. How so?
Without a presentation and perhaps only few training aids, organically delivered lessons which are delivered almost entirely from experience can come out with great depth of information and they can be delivered too quickly. Without self-control and a high degree of audience engagement instructors can go too far too quickly and leave the audience behind.
These teaching lessons can also sometimes begin to blur the lines between teaching and coaching, and when an instructor asks too many questions too quickly the student can definitely become saturated.
In the next installment we look at how to prepare for distracting questions