Most of us think we know how to present.
Actually, we know how to talk! And talk, talk, talk, is what we do.
Yet, few of us really know how to learn.
Changing Attitudes And Behaviors Or Killing Time
If your goal is for your audience to hear what you have to say, keep on talking.
If your goal is for your audience to learn, then you need to stop talking so much. And you need to let your audience do more of the talking to each other.
You have to decide if your presentation is to explain something or you want attitude, behavior and skill changes. If it’s the later, just talking at your audience won’t work.
Eight Adult Learning Principles
Here are eight adult learning principles grounded in neuroscience and andragogy, the study of how adults learn, that can help guide your presentation.
1. Principle of Active Learning
Active participation through discussion, feedback and activities creates more learning than passive listening or reading. As a presenter, find ways to reduce the amount of content covered and allow the participants to discuss the content with each other.
2. Principle of Problem-Centric
Adults come to your presentation expecting to get their problems solved. They are not there just to get more information. If your presentation does not help them solve their pressing issues, it will be forgotten. Adults are problem-centric, not content-centric.
3. Principle of Previous Experience
New information has to be linked to previous knowledge and experience or it will not be remembered. Allow participants time to discuss with each other how the new information connects with what they already know. As a speaker, sometimes you may need to help them see the connections.
4. Principle of Relevance
If the information being presented is not relevant to the listener’s life and work, it will not get their attention. As a speaker, your content must have meaning and immediate relevance. If your concepts are complicated or difficult to understand, the listeners will lose attention.
5. Principle of Emotional Connection
Presentations that connect with a learner’s emotions are more likely to be remembered, recalled and learned. Fear is not a good motivating factor for learning as it causes the brain to react in a fight or flight syndrome. Fear actually hampers real learning. As a speaker, debrief participants after emotional stories or experiences so that they can reflect and learn from their feelings.
6. Principle of Self Learning
Adult learners have some strong beliefs about how they learn. These beliefs, whether accurate or not, can interfere or enhance their learning. As a speaker, always explain why the audience should participate in specific activity and how the process as well as content benefits their learning.
7. Principle of Alignment
Adults expect that a presenter’s content, learning outcomes and activities are aligned together. If the learning outcomes do not match the content, the learner feels disconnected and learning is hampered. If the learning activity seems childish or forced, learning is lost.
8. Principle of Fun
Learning should be fun! As a presenter, if you are not having fun presenting your information and facilitating learning, then you should stop. By all means, make learning fun, enjoyable and filled with laughter!
Which of these principles resonate with your personal experiences? What additional principles would you add to the list?