Hi Everyone! Happy Friday!
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of presenting to colleagues at the Amigos 2009 Member Conference in Dallas, TX. As always, there were some interesting questions asked. Here are a few that came up along with some suggestions (and feel free to add more at the bottom as comments – you do NOT need to register to add comments):
More Information on Multimedia Learning
I mentioned Dr. Richard Mayer’s book, Multimedia Learning. It is an accessible explanation of multimedia learning and it provides the background to all of Mayer’s principles of multimedia learning. I highly recommend it.
How Do You Handle Distractions When Presenting (loud noises, construction, etc.)?
This one is tough. The ultimate advice I can give is to be prepared for the unexpected. But here are a few other suggestions:
- Change location. If you have a small (or flexible) group of people, can you quickly migrate to another area?
- Switch to small group or individual activities. You might be able to use a handout and conduct small group or individual activities instead of shouting over the din of a jackhammer.
- If the distractions/noises come from your audience (cell phone noises, the clickety-clack of a keyboard, etc.), you might begin your presentation by setting some ground rules (ex. “Laptop users please check with your neighbor to be sure that your use of a computer won’t be distracting.”).
- The literature on facilitation of meetings might also have some good ideas for handling this situation.
What Are Some Techniques That Can Be Used When Teaching Software/Web Resources?
Teaching software in a computer lab setting can be difficult because you can’t simply say the words, show the pictures and leave the text for take-away (as the computer screen usually has lots of text you can do nothing about). Here are a few suggestions that might work for you:
- Break things up into small pieces and go over them one at a time.
- Start with a printed screenshot first and review the major components (ex. search box, limit options, results page, navigation, etc.)
- Show short tutorial videos first then allow students to practice.
- Use software that can help focus attention on particular parts of the screen (Pointer, by GenevaLogic, is my recommended choice)
- Two good books I recommend:
- Efficiency in Learning, by Clark, Nguyen and Sweller. This book helps you understand cognitive load (mental effort) and how to minimize extraneous load and increase germane cognitive load (“germane” meaning appropriate mental effort). In plain language, Clark, Nguyen and Sweller show you how to help focus your audience’s attention on the important stuff and how to edit out the unnecessary stuff that gets in the way of learning.
- Graphics for Learning, by Clark and Lyons. Superb book for understanding how graphics can help/hinder the learning process and how to design effective visuals (lots of pictures in this book!).
How Can We Make A Convincing Pitch For A Big-Budget Item?
I mentioned a blog post I had read last year about pitching to venture capitalists. This has good advice for anyone wanting to convince someone else (their boss, their colleagues, a VC firm) to part with their $$. Here’s another thing I would mention from my own experience listening to sales folks give presentations — ditch the part of your presentation where you talk about how many people are in your company, the awards your company has received, or anything else about your company that really is only there to tell the audience how “great” your company is. The audience is more interested in how your product or service can help them. Get right to the point and don’t waste time on that fluff.
Got more questions? Submit a comment and let me know! I’ll do my best to help find the answer!