I published a course in my store for a course (how to design a simple interactive lesson with PowerPoint) that was half ready and put the coming soon sign. The truth is I got stuck at a point because it looked like something that had information you could find for free if you searched online really hard. So I put it aside for a few weeks and voila! An idea punched me real bad! I eventually changed the topic and contents. Usually when I plan for training or a presentation, I make sure I have a starter – something to pick the interest of my audience and hopefully give them a sneek peak into what the course or presentation will be about. A starter? Then I thought of food. I could use food to teach people how to give epic presentations! Afterall people like good food right?
The 3-course meal
This consists of an Appetiser (the starter), a main course and a Dessert. Now I wanted to make sure what each of them represented would fit in very well with teaching and learning so I decided to use a dictionary to get the exact meaning of each term and you won’t believe how much sense they made. Let’s get started!
The free dictionary defines appetiser as food or drink to stimulate the appetite usually served before a meal or as the first course. The keywords / phrase here is “stimulate” and “the first course”.
As a trainer, the main challenge I usually face is what to do to stimulate my learners’ appetite for learning. I always think of new and unique ways to pick their interest and make them hunger for more. The thing with learners is that they have probably been on many training courses they wish they never attended so your aim as a trainer is to introduce something different, sensible and relevant to what they will be learning – it can be something as simple as a picture, a video, or even a task or activity.
For example, recently, when I spoke to a group of children aged 5 to 11years about Road safety, I used many images during the speech but one stood out and that’s what I used as my starter. The image was of a girl crossing the road and not looking where she was going, an oncoming vehicle and the girl lying on the floor! To me, this image was age appropriate as I knew they would easily decipher what was going on. When I asked the group what they could tell me about the image, they got it spot on! So I asked what they thought my speech was about – already, they knew I was going to talk to them about, and show them how to cross the road safely.
Basically, with appetisers, it is about getting learners to think for themselves and if possible decipher what the topic aims to look at before even going into your learning aims and objectives. Once the appetiser is out of the way, you can then go on to tell your learners the aims and learning outcomes before going for the main course.
The Main Course:
The Cambridge dictionary defines the main course as the largest or most important part of a meal. Wikipedia defines it as the heaviest, heartiest and most complex or substantive dish on a menu. Heartiest? I just love that word! It describes perfectly how the main part of your presentation should be – extremely hearty. Hearty means spirited, energetic, unihibited, to mention a few.
This is the part where much emphasis must be laid and I always insist on having a few headings and many subheadings and sub-subheadings! For example, my heading could be “Common First Aid Disorders”. Subheadings will be Asthma, Choking, Electrocution, Scalds, Bleeding etc. Each Sub-Heading in this case will have its own Subheadings which is the Sub-Subheadings. So subheadings for Asthma will be: causes of asthma, symptoms of asthma and treatment of asthma.
Basically, the major content and at least 90% of the activities should be in this section. The ultimate guide to becoming a skilled trainer, an ecourse I designed and selling via this personal site for $25 (N5,000)is a good resource to use when planning this section.
Note: Not all sub-headings are required to have their own subheadings. Decide on this depending on the content of your training. If possible. I like headings to have their own “personal slide” (see example below) just so the learner goes with the flow and is able to tell when a new subtopic is about to be dealt with.
Hmmm yummy! Going back to my dictionary, Cambridge defines it as a sweet food eaten at the end of a meal. Wikipedia adds a little twist to it and defined dessert as a usually sweet course that concludes a meal! My keywords here are sweet and concludes.
So obviously there has to be a conclusion at the end of a presentation. I have been on sessions where the training just ended without a conclusion. I think some trainers do leave out dessert possibly because it’s easy to forget? Maybe. That’s why you must always use a checklist to make sure you touch all the important bits.
The dessert drives home the message even more. Concluding a lesson or presentation means you might have to repeat what has been dealt with during the course of the presentation but then who says that is a bad thing? Repeating might mean someone gets information they had earlier missed out on. During lectures or training, it is common for learners to zone out from time to time espeecially if they are not having fun with it or if it’s something they think they already know (some learners get like that). To prevent this, during the appetiser, you should try identifying each learner’s skill or knowledge about the topic and capitalise on this by involving them more during your lesson. You will probably make their day by making them know you know that they rock!
What about Sweet? Yes please, keep your summary sweet and short!
The Juice (or The Liqueur):
Now when you are having your meal, ideally you should have a drink alongside it right? It usually is a liqueur, wine, juice….. You name it! I’m a sucker for orange juice with bits so I will settle for Juice. You can call it anything you like – maybe even “The Liqueur”- doesn’t hurt to keep them learners intoxicated! 😉 Yeah for real provide water, coffee, drinks (non-alocholic of course) etc. Keep them hydrated while learning.
To me, juice or the Liqueur is the handout, workbook, worksheet, a video etc. Basically anything to complement the learning process, get learners practising, hands-on and being creative. Always give the juice!
Call To Action:
A presentation or lesson is not complete without giving the learners something to immediately test their knowledge. You don’t want to end a lesson without making sure your learners have something to do to help them prove to themselves and you what they have gained or if their existing skills and knowledge have gone up a notch. This can be either with your supervsion or in their own time. I prefer them doing it on their own with me having input afterwards or when required or asked to.
A Call To Action is basically you making sure your learners do something to provide an immediate proof of their newly acquired knowledge. It doesn’t always have to be a written test. You can throw random questions in between sessions, you can also get the learners to work together on a task. It can be anything really – as long as it is designed to confirm learning real quick.
One more tip:
I have been at presentations where I have had to squint really hard to see what was being projected thanks to really tiny fonts. The presenter probably forgot he wasn’t dealing with a printed doc. Ideally, my presentations on PowerPoint have a minimum font size of 20 for the body (nothing less not even 19.5 😉 ) and at least twice that for the heading (most times more).
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and intend to use the 3-course meal inspired learning when planning your next presentation. Just to recap, always start with The Appetiser so that you can stimulate your learners appetitie to learn. Next go to the Main Course and make sure all details of your presentation are here – make it heavy in content not wordy. Once you are done with the main course, make sure you give them dessert by summarising the main points and keep it simple and short. Provide some juice or liqueur in form of worksheets, workbooks and handouts that are useful! Always test for knowlegde as you go along a lesson or at the end of a presentation – this meets the need to have the learners provide an immediate repsonse ( the Call To Action),
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