Saturday, 26 May 2012

Delivering a better presentation / training course. No. 2. Don’t read aloud from the manual!

This is the second in a series of posts where I plan to discuss my ideas, tips and best practices for delivering a great presentation / training course. This is so obvious and yet I have seen it happen several times. Don’t read aloud from the manual!

In the first post of my series, I tackled a major Bête Noire (its French) of mine, trainers who sit down while presenting. Well here is another one, trainers who read aloud from the manual.

This says one thing and one thing only to the delegate. "I do not know my stuff. I do not know the course. I probably don't know the subject. I am totally unprepared.".

OK that's four things. All of them bad.

This is a training course, not Jackanory or Listen with Mother.

They would be better off reading it quietly to themselves or perhaps sitting in the garden and reading a book on the subject. Perhaps with a nice cup of tea and a Cherry Bakewell.

I attended a course once (not at QA). It was a Microsoft Official Curriculum course (Windows NT 4.0 Administration) and so the trainer was MCT certified. He sat and read some pages from module 1 to us. After coffee, he read some of module 2 to us and then asked us to read pages 36 - 42 ourselves while he nipped out for a minute or two. I got up and left. I met him some months later and he admitted that it was his first teach and he wasn't prepared. I told him that it was obvious.

If you don't know the course, don't deliver it.

There is no need for all the words to be spoken aloud anyway. The notes in the manual are there to support anything that you might say about a topic during a presentation. If you were to narrate the notes, the course would last much longer than scheduled.

There is a widely used phrase. "Death by Powerpoint". Now let's be clear. I use Powerpoint slides, I have created countless Powerpoint slides and they are a much better alternative to the combination of flipchart, marker and my handwriting.

I suppose that could be a guide couldn't it? Only put on a Powerpoint slide what you would have written on a flipchart if you had the time. I have seen slides with 20 bullet points on them! What's more, so did many of the other 40 slides in the same deck.

I plan to write a post on the dos and donts of using Powerpoint in the future so I will just say two things here as they relate to this post.

Do not face the screen and read the slide to the delegates. That is as bad as reading the notes to them.

Finally, do not put quotes onto your slides. I am sure that some people put quotes on slides to add some kind of gravitas to the material.

What are you going to do? Read the quote out to them and then nod sagely? Worse? Ask them to read the quote themselves and then raise your eyebrow as only Roger Moore can do and then nod sagely.

If it's someone else's material, and it's their fault? Paraphrase and move on.

You know it wrong!

That will do for now.

I'll be back as soon as I can with more tips and ideas to help you deliver a great presentation or training course. 


See you soon

Phil Stirpé
"I don't do average!"

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