How To Go Beyond The Presentation

This article is aimed at teachers, trainers, keynote speakers and instructors and asks and answers the question, “How can you affect the student/listener/learner after they leave the classroom?” Let me provide three straightforward approaches to enhance the student/participant experience. These strategies can be applied in virtually any career field for the purpose of instruction, training or education.
How To Go Beyond the Presentation
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It has long been the goal of presenters, trainers, and content providers who share knowledge to cause the student/listener/participant to learn something from them. In the field of eduction we seek to provide students with the knowledge necessary for them to be successful in the course. The grrowing question now is what happens to the knowledge when the course is done? For the purpose of this discussion, I will use the term presenter to represent all who are involved in sharing information to any audience; and I'll use the term participant to represent the audience of student learner.

Beyond the Presentation

     Even

expert presenters have limited affects on participants after the training has ended. That's one reason why Follow-on training is important. Regardless how impactful the topic was, sustaining the impact of the initial instruction and interest in the subject matter is always challenging. Three successful methods for providing follow-on training are, 1) monthly email contact; 2) quarterly web based information updates; and 3) applying just in time stand-alone training updates (JITT).  JIT Trainings may be presented/provided either asynchronously (various times) through podcasts or periodic email contact, or synchronously (scheduled time) through conference calls and webinars and similar tools that encourage real-time interaction between presenters and participants.

     Follow-on training methods provide participants an opportunity to “reach-back” and stay engaged with the presenter. An often overlook positive effect is the creation of peer and professional networks between other participants. Having the shared experience of the presentation allows them to dive deeper, discuss further, and otherwise maximize their training experience. Becasue these methods can be used across teaching and learning modalities, whether in the brick and mortar setting, the online or virtual classroom, or any combination, they add value to the presentation and help cement the learningh objectives.

     It's understood that not all participants are ready, willing, or interested in continuing the conversation, or following through with additional communication with others after the presentation, and that's fine. It is not the intent of the presenter to 'force feed' such interaction on the unwilling or disinterested, but rather to provide the opportunitiy for those who want know more, a means for doing so. So it's always a good idea to survey participants at least twice following the presentation to gauge the pasrticipant interests in follow-on training. Further, the survey could reveal the preference for follow-on training engagement, which will inform the presenter as to the preferred method for information delivery.

     Delivering new training need not be a daunting or overwhelming process. At the outset of the  presentation a presenter might provide a frequently asked questions “cheat sheet” with answer solutions to the more common or regularly sought information regarding the training, service, product etc. Participants immediately get a tangible presentation aide they can refer to, and in so doing this can allow them to participate more fully rather then struggle to wrtite down everything that's being said, and become more engaged with the presentation (Abrami & Bures, 1996).

Three Methods Unpacked

1) Follow-on Training:

            Immediately after attending a presentation some participants routinely exchange business cards and contact information in an effort to expand their personal or professional networks. To make the networking exchange easier, presenters may consider creating a presentation contact sheet with name, phone numbers and emails of those interested in sharing such information available at the first break. This would allow participants interested in establishing networks the opportunity to develop some associations immediately, thereby enhancing the presentation experience.

            Additionally, the presenter should strongly consider scheduling a follow-on training or and update to the presentation in another central location and limit attendance to those from this or a previous session. This tactic would permit the presenter to provide information which may not have been covered due to time constraints, as well as further explore or expand into areas of participant interests. Demonstrations, guest speakers, more detailed or in-depth reviews or training could be completed in the follow-on sessions, enhancing the presenter’s reputation for “service after the sale” so to speak.

Finally the follow-on training sessions could provide participants with the most current information/training available, maximizing the participants’ opportunity to engage in timely learning. Simultaneously, the presenter could query the follow-on participants for future presentation topics of interest as well as upcoming developments or trends in the specific are of interest or industry – thereby maintaining professional relevancy in the field. Further the presenter could survey the follow-on participants with regard to best or preferred practices with regard to information delivery preferences, traditional, contemporary, blended, etc.

Dependant on the complexity of the topic or industry presenters may consider recommending specific trainers and or other courses for follow-on instruction. Presenters should recognize that their professional recommendations with regard to subject matter experts (SME) will carry more weight in consideration than advertisements or brochures. As a result, presenters must be mindful of the training they recommend and the SME’s they endorse since their reputation would be attached to both.

2) Online Updates:

Most presenter who are frequently on the go may not have the time or opportunity to e-mail a dozen or more participants and maintain an interactive dialogue with them. One option is to maintain a website with a blog and discussion board where participants can be directed to the most current information on a given topic. This option allows the presenter to you access previous and current participants through a common medium, typically from remote locations. Should a participant need direct contact with the presenter, an email link can


be added in the contact section of the web page. With regard to the web page, it is strongly recommended that if possible, presenters have a reputable, professional and experienced company create and host the web page. This would free the presenter from having to deal with compatibility, updates, viruses and other issues, which demand time and energy. A fee will typically be required, but the benefits of such an investment would become evident almost immediately; the roster of participants will likely expand; additional presentation services could be offered; exclusive and paid memberships to areas within the site could be created with online payments offered; and near real-time connectivity with a target population could be attained. Other benefits derived might include immediacy and relevance.

Immediacy: immediately, instantly enabling participants/members to obtain current or innovative information or knowledge. Websites make the information available on demand…their demand, 24/7 365.

Relevance: unless the information provided will influence or affect a participant it may lack relevance. Outdated, unsubstantiated, theoretically unproven hypothesis might be of some interest, but often have limited or no relevance to what the student needs right now. Websites with current up-to date information of interest to participants, past and future, are likely to be revisited often.

3) Reach-Back:

This is a capability that has proven invaluable in military academia, and presents similar benefits across other academic disciplines including healthcare, business, and education. Reach-back capability maintains the connection between the academic and the students’ operational environment. This connectivity allows students to pose questions which can be fielded by the professionals and subject matter experts who provided the instruction. The benefit to the student is a response while the benefit to the academician is to receive timely input which they can apply to update their instruction to remain current. This is particularly useful in the more technical fields of sciences. It provides the student with opportunities to interact with subject matter experts, when you can’t answer the question. Particularly right after completing a course of instruction where the information you provided will be put to work almost immediately, such as Child Development Education, reach-back capability could mean the difference between success and failure for some students. In the example of the Child Development Education training, perhaps a student encounters a situation that was not covered in any literature they have handy. Reach-back capability provides them with a type of “Educational Tech Support”, allowing them to access the expert(s) in the field and seek their assistance in developing a solution. Notice, I said “seek their assistance” not “have them figure out the solution.” It’s important to understand that reaching back to the “bowl of knowledge” allows the student to maintain their independence without necessarily having to sink or swim.

Developing a reach-back capability also allows you to create your own core of experts with whom you confer on special issues, thereby further developing your own subject matter expert network. With the added knowledge that other professionals will seek your valued opinion, most trainers and educators will find that staying abreast of the most current developments is not simply a nicety, it’s a necessity. In order to be considered an expert, you must continue your professional development.

Conclusion

It has been offered that the success or failure of a participant is a reflection of the ability, capability and commitment of the presenter, but the reality is that participants who engage beyond the presentation have a greater potential for success than those who do not. I hope that as a training or education professionals the methods discussed will ignite a desire in you to strive for excellence, or fan a flame that’s already burning. If you have other methods for reaching your participants beyond the presentation, I'd love to have you share them here. I've long been of the opinion that "none of us is smarter than all of us."

Reference:

Abrami, P. C., & Bures, E. M. (1996). Computer-supported collaborative learning and distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 10(2), 37-42.

Vamosi, A., Pierce, B., & Slotkin, M. (2004). Distance learning in an accounting principles course-student satisfaction and perceptions of efficacy. Journal of Education for Business, 79(6), 360-366.


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Article Written By eumatthe

I am a retired Special Agent, and a full-time Criminal Justice professor at a local university. One of my favorite quotes is from a movie with Morgan Freeman, "Don't confuse my personality with my attitude...My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are..." I always think it's important to remember that everything communicates; how one speaks is just as important as what one says.

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  • raghubirs  06-04-2017
    Presentations are to exchange information,show progress/status of project,plans and also for teachinh-learning process. After presentations participants are likely to forget.Therefore back up materials on theme of presentation -unless classified, can be emailed to the participants.Presentations can be followe by QA sessions too.
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    • eumatthe  07-04-2017
      Absolutely. If you want what you taught or shared to actually be used and incorporated by the learner/participant in the future then it's essential that there be some sort of connection made. I like the idea of emailing follow-on material to participants, to build on information shared during the presentation. In addition to providing answer responses in a Q&A discussion/dialogue; the presenter also gets an opportunity to update their next presentation based on the questions. It's a win-win for participant and the presenter. Along with Q&A what do you think about polls or surveys being sent to participants? Is that too 'pushy' or too 'salesmanship-like'? ~ EM
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