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How to Teach Anything

How to Teach Anything

Since the Chicago strike, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to become a teacher. Although I do training seminars and keynotes all the time, I’m not sure I could be in a classroom day in and day out. It must be especially difficult with young students who would rather be somewhere else!

I once heard a saying:

“Those who can do, do.  Those who can’t do, teach.”

I don’t think it’s true.

Good teachers require a complex skill set from time and project management to interpersonal communication and public speaking, and as they’re juggling dozens of balls day in and day out, they have to always wear a game face. Wouldn’t you rather just go to your office and type away on your laptop for nine hours?

There comes a time, however, when even we office folk have to teach. Whether you’re an IT person instructing some clients on a new piece of software or a consumer marketing executive serving as a mentor to a group of young professionals on etiquette, your moment will come. And if you’re a manager leading a team, that moment might be sooner rather than later.

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Doug Lemov, who recently sent me his new book Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better, specializes in the subject of teaching. Here are a few of Lemov’s ideas for teaching anything to a group. By wielding these techniques as appropriate, you’ll likely find yourself less intimidated and more effective at the task at hand:

Use a strong voice

Command a room by waiting until there is silence before you begin. Be clear and crisp with your language. If you want people to listen, stop moving and don’t engage in other tasks at the same time. Don’t engage in off-topic conversations. Feel like you’re losing control of the room?  Exude poise and calm.

Get 100 percent compliance

Establish eye contact with off-task students while teaching the others. If you’re going to correct someone, do it quickly as not to draw too much attention to negative behavior. Emphasize compliance you can see, like “pencils down.”

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Cold call

Call on people regardless of whether they’ve raised their hands. This allows you to check for understanding, decrease the time spent asking for volunteers, and send the message that you care about your audience’s opinion.

Use “right” judiciously

When people hear that an answer is correct, they will stop striving, so only say something is “right,” if it really and truly is. If an answer is three-quarters correct, tell students they’re “almost there”. Make sure they’re answering the exact question you asked.

Give specific directions

Focus on what to do instead of what not to do, using manageable and precisely described actions that students know how to take. Make your remarks sequential, easy to remember and solution-oriented.

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Motivate with positive framing

Assume the best of your students and zero in on what they can do well right now as opposed to what might have been wrong in the past. Build momentum by calling out successes. Talk about who students are becoming and where they’re going.

Pay attention to format

Even if your relationship with your students is informal, use correct syntax and grammar while in teaching mode. Insist that students speak audibly so everyone in the room can hear.

Featured photo credit: Composition of Books, Stationary and an Apple via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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