|Creative Training - A User's Guide (IIRR, 1998, 226 pages)|
It is imperative to consider what makes a good lecture when planning and delivering your material. A good lecture includes:
· knowing at what level to pitch the lecture, neither too hard nor too easy
· not talking for more than 10 minutes without a break for some other form of activity
· enthusiasm and interest on the part of the presenter
· concise and accurate delivery of the material
· flexibility, knowing when the audience is in need of a change of pace, activity or merely a break to have a chance to internalize the content
· good presentation skills on the part of the speaker.
Planning is particularly important when giving a lecture. There should be structure and a clear objective for the lecture to be effective. Careful planning also helps to keep a lecture concise.
To ensure that the content of any lecture will be appropriate to the needs and level of the participants, they must be consulted. This could take the form of a Training Needs Analysis that would cover a complete training session, although it may be sufficient to talk to someone with a good knowledge of the group who will receive the lecture.
An important consideration when planning a lecture is whether it will be formal or informal. For the former it may be appropriate to stand and deliver the material to a seated audience. With an informal lecture or training, especially with a small group, it is advisable to sit with the participants. This can help to engage the audience and can remove some of the 'us and them' feeling.
To structure who talks and when, an object can be designated and when someone wants to speak they raise their hand and speak only when holding the object; naturally this applies to the presenter as well. This may seem unnecessarily formal but one of the main advantages of the lecture is the structure and control it gives.
Unless there are special circumstances (for example surroundings
are noisy) talking to a group of less than 75 should not require a Personal
Address (PA) system. It is acceptable to request that only one person speak at
once. Microphones or PA systems are prone to technical difficulties or
electrical outages. Use of a microphone by the presenter often serves as a power
tool to separate them from the participants, which is inadvisable in creative
training. This is particularly true when the audience has no
It cannot be overemphasized that a lecture should be short and to the point. Very few people can concentrate and internalize accurate information for much more than 10 minutes, and even those who can rarely enjoy it. Incorporating short, sharp lectures into a training course, interspersed with visual aids and other activities, is advisable and can serve to accentuate the advantages of different methodologies as well as providing a refreshing change of pace. Encourage flexibility whenever possible.
If your lecture is to be beneficial, effective presentation skills should be used. These include the following:
· Posture - if standing, you should be erect but relaxed, facing the participants with your weight evenly distributed (placing weight on one hip and shifting it to the other and back can be distracting). If seated you should also be relaxed and facing those you are addressing.
These two postures indicate disinterest and a defensive and closed attitude, respectively. Neither is recommended.
An alert and open posture is conducive to an effective presentation.
· Movement - applies mainly if you are standing but is also important if seated. Moving around can be engaging and keep you involved with the participants.
· Gestures - the importance of natural gestures cannot be overstated; these are used in normal conversation and using them when addressing a group is appropriate and effective.
· Eye contact - this helps the channel of communication, can establish and build rapport and makes the lecture more personal. It is important not to stare at anyone (one to three seconds eye contact is fine) and to move focus among the participants. If a group is too large to look at each individual separately, make contact with different individuals in different parts of the audience; those sitting near the individual will feel as if you are looking at them.
A lecture read verbatim from a prepared script sounds stilted. Use
flash cards instead with key words to remind you of the important points to
cover or try a mind map (see mind mapping).
· Voice - a speaker should consider not only what he/she is saying but how messages are said. The three main problems are speaking in a monotone, talking too fast and speaking at an inappropriate volume:
· Most monotonous voices are caused by anxiety, causing the muscles of the chest and throat to tense. It is essential to relax and release tension. This can be aided by upper body movements.
· Talking too fast is also often due to anxiety. Many novice lecturers say that they can alleviate their nervousness to some extent by a sound knowledge of their material. A dry run with friends or colleagues is usually more effective than practising in front of a mirror. A good presenter uses pauses appropriately (for example, to let a point sink in) and it is also an effective way to slow down. Try pausing at the end of each sentence. Periods of silence are not a problem.
· Speaking too quietly can be a problem but you can correct this with practice. If it is a continuing difficulty or if you are naturally soft spoken, a microphone can be used.
Practising voice projection
At WESAMAR, during a training on facilitation skills, the
facilitator asked the participants to form a line at one end of the room and say
words, such as ball or fish. The participants spoke one at a time and the
facilitator gauges their level of projection. When the facilitator judged that
each voice has "reached" the appropriate level of projection s/he said, for
example, "the ball has reached me" or "the fish has been caught in the
Both during and especially at the end of a lecture, ask the participants for questions, either for clarification or because something was omitted from the lecture and also for comments. Inviting questions is also a good way to check on audience understanding, critical to the success of the presentation. If you ask questions as if hoping there will be none, you are unlikely to get a response. Instead, assume that the audience will have some and wait long enough for them to formulate these and overcome any reluctance to ask them. To get things going, you could say "I'm often asked....." or have someone in the audience ask a question that you have given them before the lecture (this usually encourages others to follow suit).
When a question is asked, it is important to look at the questioner while they are speaking. Repeating the question ensures that all participants have heard it and that you have heard and understood it correctly. Address the answer to the questioner specifically but also to the other participants generally (focusing attention 25% on the questioner and 75% on the rest of the group is a good rule of thumb). If you do not know the answer to the question, do not be afraid to say so.