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It’s all in the delivery

March 16, 2009

Why do some people tell jokes better than others? Why is it that some presenters can capture the hearts and minds of the audience whilst others would be better at curing insomnia? Why is that when some people speak, the room goes quiet in an anticipation, but for the less effective orators, the deathly silence that follows is for a completely different reason?

The answer may be obvious (for the formers in my examples, maybe not the latters) – It’s all in the delivery. We all know that communication is not just about what we say. It’s how it is said, the way we act and reputation that precedes us that has a significant impact on the all important message that we are trying to get across.

So whether it is delivering a presentation, demonstrating a task or explaining a new procedure to the student, there a few things we can do to help the information remain intact.

Engage the student: Involve them, elicit their assistance, have them solve problems and fire up their emotions. Use colour, interesting facts and stories, suspense, intrigue or even cliché’s to make them part of the situation. Challenge them, test them and question them to check that they are taking part. Acknowledge them, praise their efforts and reward their successes.

Be sincere: Your credibility will be affected by you truthfulness and conduct. Say exactly what you mean, mean what say, admit you are wrong, and don’t pretend to know what you don’t. It is not wrong to not have an answer, but to bluff or lie to the student will leave you with a reputation that will be difficult to overcome. Make promises, keep them and hold yourself accountable.

Be objective: Show all sides of the argument. It is OK to have an opinion, but it is not right to force it onto your student. If it is a standard, enforce it, if it is a technique, encourage it, but if it is personal preference, state is as such. Explain why you do what you do and if your arguments are solid, then they will speak for themselves. If you do something and don’t know why, who is to say that you know best. You may have been here longer, but time alone is not experience (it’s what you do with it that counts).

Be relevant: This doesn’t just mean stick to the topic (although that is exactly what it means). Also explain the relevance to the student unless it is convincingly obvious. Why is this important, how will it help me, the team, the organisation and where do I fit into the operational process?

Have a purpose: Start with the end in mind; you are speaking because you want to persuade the student. Don’t speak for the sake of speaking alone, it is distracting. Side stories are only useful if the they explain why we do it, how we do it or when we do it. Incidentally, providing that you can do it competently, the student doesn’t care how well you can do it, how often you have done it or about the time you did it with one hand, drunk and whilst juggling as basket full of rodents. Remember the purpose.

So with every delivery you make to your student, think engaging, sincerity, objectivity, relevance and purpose. Regardless if it is a lesson, a practical exercise, a debriefing or training report, think ESORP. Of course you could reverse the order of the letters (i.e. PROSE), but that would be so cliché.


Download my free e-book “THE WORKPLACE TRAINER’S TOOLKIT” Eight models for effective on the job training.

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