Coaching & Teaching-What’s the Difference?

Coaching & Teaching. What is the difference?

Coaching and Teaching are very closely related! In fact some instructors will often coach during teaching and vice versa. So if they are so similar how do you know which one you’re doing and when to do so? Between Coaching & Teaching-What’s the difference?

Coaching and Teaching are very closely related! In fact some instructors will often coach during teaching and vice versa. So if they’re so similar how do you know which one you’re doing and when to do so? What’s the difference?

Before we go into the differences let’s take a look at what each are.

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Theory or Revision – When do people learn?

People are not equal! It may seem incorrect to say but we’re not. Adding to that all clients are also … not equal! Clients learn in different ways, and also have different motivations which have drastic impacts on their individual outcomes.

However in this case—client equality and their motivations really don’t matter, because in this post we’re really looking at when most learning occurs, not how!

If you’re looking at instructing as part of your business or start-up, being an effective instructor is a must. No entrepreneur or start-up business owner wants to instruct a lesson or hold a course where the clients come away with very little knowledge at the end.

Not only do you want to deliver an excellent teaching product, you want your clients to recommend you to others. Makes sense right?

So When do people learn?

So having pointed out the obvious, let’s go a little deeper, because one thing that we need to be aware of here is that teaching and learning are two very different things.

“Teaching” is done by an “Instructor”. “Learning” is done by the “Client!”

So as an Instructor how are you going to achieve the most potent learning experience for your client?

Is your client going to learn during the ‘teaching’ or are they going to learn later when they ‘revise’ previously delivered material? Wherever they will learn is going to dictate how you create your lesson or course!

Revision is Student Driven to re-enforce earlier learning

I’ll give you the answer at the end of this post and the truth is shocking!

On many courses that I have attended throughout my working life, I have been taught one subject, revised and then assessed the next day to prove competence. As an instructor you’re going to face the same challenge. You will need to teach and have a client either prove competence with little to no application or be able to apply those skills later.

Time is the biggest restriction you can have.

The situation reverses as a manager or an educator within an organization. You can spend far more time teaching and seemingly not see competence in the person being taught.

So … what is more effective? Teaching lessons? Revision lessons? When do clients finally learn?

Unfortunately the answer isn’t within either of the major lesson types above. Simply speaking teaching lessons have to be delivered so that new skills can be taught. Revision lessons are there to re-enforce prior learning.

Between the two however, revision is more often than not more effective at developing the skill level of a trainee or a client.

How much we remember

Why? Depending on how material is delivered the audience will forget up to 95% of taught content. (Makes you wonder how we learn anything) However revision lessons not only re-engage with the remembered material but also trigger the activation of ‘forgotten’ material from previously.

Especially if the revision is practical the information retention can be as high as 75% . . . a far cry from 5%.

So using the logic and the stats from above, revision lessons are the way to go! Absolutely however you cannot revise a subject that has not been taught!


Experience through application is where your client will learn the most.

So our answer now looks pretty clear. Quickly teach a subject with high audience engagement and get straight into revising the subject material. This is how we attain maximum learning . . . right?

The Shocking Truth.

When it comes to designing a course there really isn’t a specific formula that you can use to achieve a maximum outcome. All subjects are different and need a differing approach.

But the real shock here is that your audience will not learn the most from you during either teaching or revision. Your client will learn the most about a subject on their own long after the teaching has been done.

When a client enters or is forced to enter a period of application without support, they will learn the most at the fastest rate. It’s during the time of application that a client will learn >100% of what you would have been capable of teaching. They will learn things through experience that you may not have had as part of your training itself.

An unfortunate truth to being an instructor is that you cannot achieve proficiency in your client. You can only give the knowledge for a client to become competent in a skill but you cannot give them experience. Experience through application is where your client will learn the most. Our job as instructors is to prepare them to be independent.

How can you prepare your Presentation? – Part 1 – Queues & Prompts

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.

The Ability to teach from experience
Teaching from Experience

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.

Not ideal.

In the next installment we look at how to prepare for distracting questions

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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