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Knowing That You Need to Know

A central tenet in adult education theory is that adults know they need to know something. This assumes you have a goal in mind, and that you know what you need to get there. Consider these two situations:
You want to start offering a particular service in your business. You would outline the steps you need to take to get there. On that list would inevitably be a few things that you don’t know now to do. Most of us will search for tutorials and how-to’s to help us through. That’s the idea.
At a conference, you read the descriptions of each session in the program guide. They sound pretty much like a carbon copy of last year’s sessions. There’s really nothing that will help you do your job better, so you choose the ones with the least boring titles and speakers.
The difference between these two situations is that what they find to participate in either fits their performance goals or not.

When you submit an abstract or short description of the session you’ll be teaching, always describe it in terms that would be interesting to a specific group of learners. Take the learner’s perspective: If they were sitting down to do a search on how to do exactly the thing you’re teaching – what would they search for?

What will your lesson content help them do better?
What business, work or performance goals do people in your audience have –
and how can your session description hook those people?

To Roam or Not to Roam
Are you a gripper or a roamer? Grippers grip the podium or lectern and never move an inch. This white knuckle action can come across as nervous anxiety – which can decrease your perceived credibility. Roamers walk around the room. Roaming can mess with microphone systems and cause feedback. Check your sound before the crowd gets too big.
If you’re a roamer, roam a little to check for reverb.
If you’re a gripper, find a pen or a clicker to grip rather than the podium.
Stick with the template options you have in your presentation software. The colors and fonts were selected by pro’s to help you look like a pro. It is very distracting to have multiple fonts and too many colors. When you add a text box, it’s not always in the same font as everything else.
Check that before typing your text.
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Are you balancing visual and textual information?

These researchers found that those with high school diplomas used more textual information to answer health questions, and those without high school diplomas used more visual information to answer health questions.

What about your audience? Do most of them have a high school diploma? Then you will definitely want to offer information in textual format. If you have videos, offer the transcripts as  blog posts, have transcripts converted into brochures and break up the transcripts as newsletter series.

If you deal mainly with a younger audience or an audience without high school diplomas, consider how your content can be offered in graphical format, as an animated video or step graphic as you present. Avoid bullet points in your PowerPoints at all costs.

High quality information is designed to get high impact on people’s lives. As an expert in your subject matter, give that to your audience members in a way that they will best grasp it. If they grasp the information, they’ll be more likely to implement it and see the benefits of new and different practices.

Feinberg I, Frijters J, Johnson-Lawrence V, Greenberg D, Nightingale E, Moodie C (2016) Examining Associations between Health Information Seeking Behavior and Adult Education Status in the U.S.: An Analysis of the 2012 PIAAC Data. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0148751. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0148751

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