“Experience is the name we give to our mistakes.” Oscar Wilde
Trainers have a plethora of audiovisual options from which to choose. Some trainers don’t realize that there is more to life than PowerPoint. They also overuse or misuse audiovisuals. Here are four mistakes that trainers should avoid.
Mistake #1: Consistently using AV to entertain rather than educate
Trainers who flash through a large number of funny but irrelevant slides are wasting precious training time in the same manner that a trainer who begins a session by telling lots of jokes that have nothing to do with the training itself.
If you are a trainer, your mission is to educate. It is just fine to make your training program entertaining, but make sure that the audiovisuals you use relate to and do not detract from the training content. For example, if you use accelerated learning techniques, you might have a slide or cartoon that relates to the metaphor for the training, such as a photo of people white water rafting for a stress management class. You may use entertaining photos, animations or cartoons that reinforce a key point.
But please don’t use so many bells and whistles with your PowerPoint slides that the participants are focused more on the movement of the text than the content of the text.
Mistake #2: Reading the AV with your back to group
There are four things wrong with this picture. First, it is never a good idea to have your back to the participants. It is typically not our most appealing side. Second, when you face away from the group, it breaks contact with the participants. Third, it makes it hard to hear your voice. Fourth, there should only be a few key points up on the screen. So if you have to read the slide, there is probably too much content on it.
Mistake #3: Not using audiovisuals to supplement a lecture
If you are giving a lecture (or better yet, a lecturette), then the reason should be that you have information none of the participants possess. That being the case, you will be providing new learning that needs to accommodate different learning styles. The aural learners will be very happy with the lecture. However, without text, color and/or pictures to view, the visual learners will be left wanting. So make sure to use audiovisuals to supplement your lectures.
Mistake #4: Not using flip charts effectively
Flip charts are wonderful audiovisual aids when they are used properly. Write large, using colors easy to see, such as blue, purple, black, or dark green. Make sure that each page has a title, because we typically use flip charts when we want to retain and post key information.
Use a page for only one topic. Do not save paper by writing different topic points on the same page, even if there is plenty of extra room on the page. It will confuse the participants. Consider jazzing up the flip chart by using colorful markers to create a frame. Try holding two different colored markers in one hand as you frame the page.
Avoiding these four mistakes and using audiovisuals properly should improve your training delivery and presentation. In next week’s Tip, we will add four more mistakes to avoid when using audiovisuals.
May your learning be sweet.