Teaching is a form of public speaking and should be practiced, especially if you are new at it! Public speaking is often something that people get nervous about, but like any skill, with practice, you'll become much more comfortable.
As you prepare for your training session and speaking in public, it's helpful to remember to follow the "7 Cs" of Communication.
It is important that you clearly communicate the intended information to your students. Be able to explain a concept in several ways and answer clarifying questions about the topic. If you find that your students are having difficulty understanding, don’t move on until they do. If you are not clear, then your training objectives will not be met so it is important to ensure that your students understand.
It can often help to outline the topic you're going to be teaching on note cards or a notepad which can help you methodically work through what you want to communicate. Most people will tend to drift or forget items if they don't have a clear framework to operate within. Presentation slides can be helpful (see our tips on how to put together a great presentation), but in many classes these can be overkill - often a simple outline will be enough for you to efficiently work through your material in a clear manner.
It’s also important to keep your message simple and concise. This reduces the opportunity for confusion. If you see that your students are grasping a concept quickly, move on instead of belabouring the point. Even complex subjects that require a lot of detail can be distilled to major themes or modules that you can refer to and use to help anchor students and prevent them from getting lost.
You’ll lose your audience if they feel the information you are sharing is not applicable to them. Think of ways to make real-life connections in order to fully engage with your listeners. For example, if you are providing a training seminar on safety procedures, use real-life situations where the procedure may be applied. Ask your students for instances where they had to utilise safety procedures and walk through ways to take precautions. It can be helpful to use your students in examples or make up names for characters in a hypothetical situation - use these characters routinely to make abstract concepts more tangible for learners. Even for very abstract concepts, it can be helpful to construct an analogy to help explain more involved concepts. Using analogies can be a great way to help students who struggle with more abstract concepts engage.
You need to be a master of the content you are delivering. That may take considerable effort and planning beforehand, but it is essential to know what you are teaching! However, if you are asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, admit it and be sure to find the answer for the next session. In more advanced courses, expect to be challenged by some of your better students, and welcome this challenge, just be prepared!
Be careful not to use filler words such as “um, so, like,” etc. They can take away from your message and are distracting. Try to be aware of phrases that you repeat and stay away from those as well. If you are unsure of your use of filler words, record yourself teaching or give a practice talk to a friend. Listen for commonly repeated phrases and try to eliminate them. If you're prone to using filler words or phrases, it will take practice to drop them from your normal speech, but it will definitely be worth it. Also, don't worry about completely eliminating all your "ums" and "ahs", as it's not necessary to be completely perfect, just make sure you have them to the point where it's not distracting.
In addition to polishing up your speaking skills, make sure you're presenting your content in a logical manner that doesn't ramble or wander. This is where the outline and note cards we mentioned above can really help. Don't forget it!
Part of your planning process needs to ensure that you allow enough time to complete your objectives. You need to know what the essential pieces of information are and communicate those to your students. Most likely you will move through the material faster than you anticipate, so "over planning" is recommended.
If you find yourself finishing too quickly and your class is tracking with you at each step along the way, have a few other relevant examples or case studies prepared that you can run through the material again (but with a different flavour) to really reinforce understanding and tease out any grey areas within student's minds.
Treat your students professionally and with respect. Your students will not respect you if they don’t feel respected in turn. Even if there is a disruptive student it is your job to be courteous and professional at all times. Often students are disruptive because they want a reaction from the authority figure. If you counter while being polite and calm, chances are they cease being disruptive.
While these 7 concepts are important for public speaking, training, and teaching, they are also good rules to follow for all communication! Whether you are writing an email, speaking to a student after class or grading tests, it is important to be clear, concise, concrete, correct coherent, complete and courteous.
Want to Know More About Good Communication?
Communication is especially important in the training industry, as you need to make sure you're communicating effectively with your students and tutors, as well as suppliers, venues and a whole other range of people.
Download our The Art of Good Communication Case Study to see how CEO of Future Environment Designs, Angelo Garcia, uses Administrate to improve their communication.