Nearly everyone has to teach something to someone at some point. You might be training your team, instructing a colleague or even helping your child get smarter. As a professional speaker and writer, I teach a lot. I find that each different teaching medium calls for a very specific approach to content creation and delivery. What works on stage doesn’t easily translate to video delivery if you want to keep an audience engaged. Each medium has its own benefits and quirks.

When I address the subtleties and give each medium its due respect, I deliver content successfully and grow my following. When I try and force an old approach on a new medium, it nearly always ends in disaster.

If you have something important to teach you should give the process as much consideration as the topic and information. Here are some tips that will help you do just that.

1. Consider your audience.

People learn differently. Some love to read while others are more experiential. Millennials have a different approach to knowledge and information than Baby Boomers. Before you start teaching it helps to know exactly who about the students and how they learn. Ask them. Let them tell you how they learn best and be ready to adapt your teaching methods to meet their needs.

2. Compartmentalize the content.

Most people can't absorb a large amount of content all at once. They need to learn it in smaller bites and apply aspects immediately for it to take root. Take your content and separate the key ideas into multiple lessons. Create short and powerful segments that tell compelling stories with a striking learning moment at the end. If they like that segment, they will undoubtedly come back for more.

3. Simplify delivery.

Learners hate a hassle. If learning technology is a challenge to use, or it takes too long to for you to get to the point, people will quickly move on to something else. Find simple ways to communicate a concept. Video has great tools like graphics, sound, special effects, and even animation that can get your point across faster than a talking head. Wordy PowerPoint slides don’t help anyone learn the material, they just make the presenter seem unprepared (especially when the presenter reads off them). Make the lessons so easy that an incredibly busy and distracted person can get it the first time.

4. Make it entertaining.

So much training is like stale white toast. If you are teaching it's because you want people to learn the wisdom you are sharing. Give it to your audience in a way that will delight them and make it memorable. Use visuals and humor. Tell compelling and exciting stories to make your point. If you can’t keep their attention and excite them, they will tune out and learn little.

5. Give them actionable takeaways.

People learn better when they can apply the knowledge to their life right away. Give them the chance to practice small parts of the lesson in the moment, and then find a way to give them an "Aha!" moment that sticks in their mind when they go back to their daily routine. If they try it and it works, they will come back again to see what else you can do for them.

Published on: Jul 20, 2015
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