“Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.” Gail Sheehy
When lecturers recognize the value of participatory learning, there is a relatively steep learning curve for them to transition into a facilitative trainer role.
It can be very daunting to let go of the role of an expert who shares knowledge and step into the role of a facilitator who enables participants to learn and apply what they learned.
Here are some logistical tips to help with that transition.
Moving from PowerPoint slide deck to participant manual:
- Take all of the content that is currently on each of your PowerPoint slides and place it into a participant manual as reference material.
- Consider the best way that your participants can learn the information without having you lecture or read the slides to them.
- To do this, first determine the level of learning you want them to achieve.
- If the information will be brand new to them, you will want them to gain the knowledge and then demonstrate that they understand it. A questionnaire, case study, gallery walk, game, or rotating flip charts are a few of the learning activities that can check their comprehension.
- If they are learning a new skill, you will want them to practice that skill in the classroom. Typically, this will involve hands on activity, a simulation or a role-play.
- If you want to help them change their attitude toward something, you will need to engage their emotions so that they can relate to the other perspective. You might consider using a story, visualization, a moving case study in print or on a DVD, or a simulation or role-play that puts them in the other person’s shoes.
- Design the learning activity or activities necessary to help the participants gain the desired level of learning.
- Keep in mind that you want a variety of activities throughout the training program to meet the needs of different learning styles and to keep it interesting for you and the participants.
The participant manual:
- Create a participant manual that includes the learning activities and the reference materials.
- Include a table of contents that identifies the learning activities in italicized print. This way you will be able to see if there is a participatory aspect involved in each of your agenda modules.
- For a useful cheat sheet, annotate the table of contents so you know what the activity is, what you need to prepare for and to set up the activity, and how long each stage (preparation, assignment, participant work, debriefing) should be.
The PowerPoint slides:
- Go back to your PowerPoint slides. Since all of the content is now in the participant manual, use the slides to introduce or emphasize key points.
- Remember that the PowerPoint slides are meant to complement the training. Pictures, clearly readable charts and graphs, and bullet points for text is all that should go on the slides.
- Keep in mind that whatever you put on the slides needs to be visible to someone sitting in the back of the room. Use 28 or 32-point font sizes. Use white or yellow text against a blue background.
- If you need to show a table or a chart, place a blown up part of it on the slide to explain how to read it. The participants should have a copy of the entire table or chart in their participant manual so they can review it.
- This is a good time to invest in a wireless remote with a laser pointer that will enable you to move slides forward and backward, turn slides on and off, and indicate points on a slide without having to stand in front of the screen and point with your finger.
Preparing to facilitate:
- Flip charts, easels and fragrant colorful marking pens offer you great flexibility for grouping participants and getting them up and moving. If you can have a flip chart and easel for every table of 5 participants, that is wonderful. Keep painter’s masking tape available if the flip chart paper does not have an adhesive strip on the back.
- It helps to have Koosh balls on each table. The Koosh balls will give you options for introductory, energizer and debriefing activities.
- Make sure that every participant seat provides a clear view of the screen.
- Keep your annotated table of contents, a clock, and a print copy of the PowerPoint slides (six slides to a page) in front of you for easy reference.
- Prepare the flip charts you will need for activities before the class starts.
- Take a breath and trust that your participants will still recognize your expertise.
- Remember to convert what you want to tell them into a question that asks if anyone in the class can explain what needs to be explained.
- If no one in the class can provide the explanation, give yourself permission to give a brief lecturette of 10 minutes, no more.
- When you catch yourself slipping into a favorite story or lecture, ask yourself if it is truly relevant to the content and necessary to move the learning along. If it isn’t, accept that reality and don’t tell it.
- Make sure to give those 10-minute breaks every hour. That will give you time to think ahead and prepare for the next activity. Your participants will also thank you for them.
- As with anything new, there may be hiccups. Smile, take a breath and regroup. You’ll find that the day goes quickly, the participants are happy and the necessary learning is accomplished.
May your learning be sweet.