How to prepare a winning training presentation
Whether you’re training employees on how to perform part of their job, teaching them how to use a new product or application, giving instruction on regulations or anything else, your training presentation needs to be engaging and informative if it is to be effective.
Start by coming up with an outline for your training presentation. What are the key skills or principles you need to deliver to your delegates? A set of clear learning objectives is crucial, both for you to ensure you maintain direction and focus, and for those attending so they have a clear idea of the purpose of the training presentation and what they can expect to take away from it.
The golden rule to giving a training presentation of any kind is to know your subject thoroughly. It's vital that you have fully researched and prepared the information you are presenting. This will aid your confidence during the presentation and give you an air of authority which your audience will pick up on.
Try to anticipate any questions you may be asked during or after the presentation and have your answers prepared. If possible, it’s desirable that your knowledge should even exceed the learning objectives you’ve set for the training presentation so you can go into more detail if required, though you should beware straying too far from your original plan. For example, if you are presenting on a subject at an introductory level, try to make sure you’re knowledgeable to an intermediate or more advanced level. You may well be asked questions which are beyond the scope of your presentation, and it’s useful to have answers to hand to satisfy the inquisitive learner. This will also help to reinforce the impression that you have knowledge and experience in your subject.
Second to preparation, visual aids are a key ingredient to any successful training presentation. Most learners respond better to a combination of having things explained to them, and seeing them in written or graphical form. If you want to avoid your training session becoming ‘just another PowerPoint presentation’ you could opt instead for the Flash-based presentation tool Prezi which is really enjoying a popularity surge with trainers. Its format of ‘mapping’ an entire concept rather than presenting chunks in a series of linear slides is excellent for capturing the learners’ interest, and it can help to liven up a dull subject. Do remember though that the information you’re presenting is the primary thrust of your training presentation. Visual aids should summarise and complement the information you’re delivering and not detract from your message; your job is to send your audience home with a full understanding of the subject rather than to impress them with your ability to create a flashy presentation.
It’s also a great idea to incorporate video into your training. A change of presentation method helps to keep your audience interested and engaged, breaking up the slide or lecture format, as well as providing a welcome break for you. Educational video is a medium which is effective for both visual and auditory learners. It can also help kinesthetic learners - those who learn best by doing - where a hands-on element to the training is not practical. Video can be used to present real-life cases or in-depth studies related to your topic, and can be a valuable addition to your trainer-led session on a wide range of topics such as Health & Safety and business.
Preparation and learning materials are just part of the story though. You also need to be ready to react and adapt to your audience once you step into the training room. You should confirm their understanding of your training presentation by interacting with them throughout the session.
Delivering Your Training Presentation
• Maintain eye contact and pause for further explanation if you’re met with blank faces
• Give them sufficient opportunities to ask questions during or after your presentation
• Ask them questions or plan short activities at the end of each section if appropriate to ensure they have grasped the subject matter
• Invite further questions at the end of the session and allow time for group discussion
This regular interaction will also help to keep the audience fully engaged and reduce the risk of losing their attention.
And on the subject of attention, it’s important to remember that different people have different attention spans. Some will not be able to sit through a presentation of multiple slides without losing concentration. You should therefore try and find a good balance between keeping your presentation as short as possible whilst at the same time ensuring that your deliver all the necessary information on the subject. If your topic can’t be covered in a short time, make sure you give your audience sufficient breaks so they can re-energise and return refreshed and ready to take in further information.
Once you’ve reached the end of your training presentation, give your audience something to take away with them. This might be a copy of the slides in your presentation in paper or electronic form, a quick reference guide or summary sheet or some more detailed documentation on the subject you’ve just covered. Even the most attentive learners can suffer lapses in concentration and need something to refer back to. Your end-of-presentation hand-out should also include your contact details so that any attendee who has a follow-up question can get in touch with you.
If you can follow these steps successfully, you’ll deliver a memorable training presentation and give your audience knowledge which they can put into practice on a day-to-day basis. It may take a little time to hone your training skills, but it’s worth putting in the effort to ensure you perform to the best of your abilities in this challenging but rewarding role.
BBC Active has a range of educational videos suitable for use in training, including business video and health and safety videos.