Before you Lecture, Think About your Options

I know how tempting it can be to set up a training session as a lecture. I know all the reasons we tell ourselves that lecture is the best method, too: there’s way too much material to present it any other way, this is what I know how to do, they won’t know what’s really important unless I tell them, they just won’t learn it any other way. In fact, just the other day I faced this same temptation.

This weekend, with a friend, I’ll be presenting a breakout session at the Chicago District 30 Toastmasters Leadership Institute. We’re presenting tips for conducting great speech contests and, at first, it seemed as if there was just too much information that I wanted to pass on to do anything but a lecture with perhaps a bit of discussion. But then I realized what was wrong with lecture in this case: most of the participants will likely already have had quite a bit of experience with contests. There will be quite a bit of knowledge in that room, and most of it won’t be standing at the front of the room.

It didn’t take long to devise a plan that will use small group work to generate lists of tips and best practices. As presenters, our job will be to facilitate the activities and to encourage sharing of ideas. We’ll capture all of the groups’ work and then send it out by email after our session. So instead of spending hours planning a lecture and preparing PowerPoint slides, our focus is on setting up activities that will engage our participants. We trust them to provide excellent tips from their experience. And any major points that they don’t hit during their activities we can share in the final segment of the workshop. It’s a win for everyone.

Sometimes you might actually have a good reason for doing a lecture. But not very often. Usually there’s a much better reason for using teaching methods that involve your participants and honor their experience and knowledge.



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