7 Secrets To Getting Your Adult Audience To Learn From Your Presentation

by drjim on January 19, 2009

Taking The Time To Make Sure Your Audience Can Learn Will Produce Lasting Benefits

Taking The Time To Make Sure Your Audience Can Learn Will Produce Lasting Benefits

So why should anyone take the time to attend your presentation? Unless you are Paris Hilton (hi Paris!) or former President Clinton, you probably don’t have enough star power alone to pull people to your presentation. So what’s a presenter to do?

These days with everyone being overworked and so stressed for time, the one question that needs to be answered is “W.I.I.F.M.”? That is “what’s in it for me” of course. Another way of saying this is, what are you going to teach me? This brings up the question of just how does a presenter go about teaching an adult audience?

When in doubt, ask an expert. In this case we can have a talk with Dorothy Billington who has done a lot of research into how adults learn. Let’s see what her seven secrets to getting adults to learn better are:

  1. Provide A Safe Environment: In order for students to learn, they need a safe and supportive environment where they are acknowledged and respected.
  2. Be Free To Think: provide the audience with the ability to experiment and to be creative. This includes having the ability to experience intellectual freedom.
  3. Teacher / Student Interaction: As a presenter, you need to treat your audience as peers. This means that you need to acknowledge that they are intelligent and experienced adults. You will need to listen to and appreciate their opinions.
  4. Self Learning: Your audience must be allowed to take responsibility for their own learning. This means that their learning should be self directed. Taking the time before your presentation to work with members of the audience to find out  what individual learning needs are will help move this along.
  5. Not Too Fast, Not Too Slow: As the presenter, you are going to need to come up with the ideal pacing for your audience. This will challenge them at a level that is just beyond their level of their ability. Be careful: if you push the pace too far, then you’ll lose your audience. If your pace is too slow, then you’ll bore them.
  6. Make Active Learners: When your audience is actively involved in the learning process, then they will retain what you say. If they are just sitting there passively, then retention will be less.
  7. Feedback Is Good: providing a way for your audience to give you feedback on what works for them. Once you start to get this type of input, then you will need to listen to your audience and go back and make changes to your presentation.

Since we’ve gone to all of the effort of creating a presentation, we need to do our best to make sure that the information sticks with your audience. These seven secrets will get you moving down the right path…

How do you get your audiences to remember what you have just told them? How do you control the pacing of your presentation? Do you have any way to get feedback from your audience on how much they have learned? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen Hendren August 11, 2010 at 1:05 pm

I read this article with interest and i shall certainly be taking some of the points on board.

I am very keen on giving my adult students time and space to learn. When it comes to pacing i am very much a fan of structuring both my content and delivery style to match the NLP models of kinaesthetic, audial and visual thinkers / learners.

In terms of feedback i use a form to be completed directly after the session but i also contact the students after a period of about a week when they have had time to digest. Quite often these calls can turn into mini coaching sessions which not only help the student with specific issues but also highlight areas for me to work on when it comes to planning and content.

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Dr. Jim Anderson August 13, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Stephen: great idea to do a longer term follow-up. Sometimes being forced to remember what we learned is all that it takes to make things “stick” …

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