Here are eight tips for teaching great workshops and giving awesome presentations:
- How to talk to beginners. The language we use when talking to beginners is very important. A great resource for this is Katy Decorah’s Writing for everyone presentation. Never say something is “simple” or “easy” and never assume anything about what your audience already knows unless you are 100% sure. Always define terms and repeat their definitions. These and other tips would be great to include in this document.
- Use real-world examples. The more you can make something real for a learner, the more likely they are to remember and understand it. Try to use real-world examples that are relevant to the audience.
- Towards the end of the workshop or presentation, encourage the attendees to teach the rest of the group. Ask them to present what they learned! You can do this by asking specific questions about the topic or by directly asking, “Can you tell us what you learned today?”
- Provide next steps. Now that they’ve finished the workshop, what should they do next? Provide concrete next steps to keep them engaged with the topic.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. It’s okay to not know things, and admitting you don’t know the answer humanizes you to the group. Beginners are more comfortable learning from people who are not experts. Better yet, if you don’t know an answer to a question, pose it to the group! Maybe someone in the room knows the answer or can find the answer quickly.
- Pause often for questions. People may not always feel comfortable interrupting you, so be sure to pause periodically and ask the room if they have any questions. I always explicitly say something like, “You may feel silly asking a question, but I bet for every one of you who asks, there will be five people who wanted to know the answer and didn’t feel comfortable.” Make it clear that questions aren’t a bother for you – in fact, you encourage them!
- Repeat things that are important. The human brain enjoys patterns. That’s why songs and other mnemonic devices are used, like the alphabet song – our brain remembers the tune, which allows us to remember the content. Repeating phrases that are important helps them stay embedded in the brain.
- Provide lots of encouragement! I like to use silly images like this and this to make attendees feel proud of what they’ve accomplished. They also make people giggle, which is a plus!
Now go teach something! If you have more tips, tweet them at me: @lyzidiamond.