Presentation Mastery

Presentation mastery: What adult learners want and how you can give it to them

I’ve been reading¬† a series of new articles about how adults learn and it seems that it’s newsworthy that we (adults) need an environment that encourages interaction, is lit properly and answers the question, What’s in it for me?

If this isn’t a duh, I don’t know what is!

Come on people. Do we really need researchers to tell us to engage people if we want them to learn? Do we really need others to tell us that we can reach others most easily if it matters – or if we can deliver it in a compelling way to make it matter – to the person being taught? Do we really need to be told that the presentation isn’t about the presenter, but about the receiver?

In another lifetime when I taught English to seventh and eighth graders, we’d have an annual end-of-the-year English Olympics. While other teachers used the last days of school to pack books, and give the kids study hall, I’m very proud to say that “my” kids played games involving fluffy favourites slots or video games with the use of sites like to trade items and skins for games as CSGO.

Now, if a 21 year-old-first-year-teacher (earning $7,800 for the year, that first year of teaching!) could figure this out, surely it doesn’t take the hottest skillet on the flame to know that it’s even more important to make learning fun and relevant for busy adults.

Maybe it’s just that I get bored easily. In one of my introductions, it used to say that I’m the world’s worst workshop taker. (I changed it after someone read it as, “Sue says she is the world’s worst workshop talker.”) But I think getting bored easily has been a blessing because the only thing worse than being bored is being the person doing the boring! Tell me stuff that I can’t relate to, and I’m outta there.¬† As a kid, I could only tune out. As an adult, I leave. I’m just not willing to waste my time with people who don’t respect mine – and no adult should be expected to.

So, with no research to back me up, but great fanfare nonetheless, here’s my take on adult learning and learners: Love them. Respect them. Show them that you’re there for them and not for yourself. Care more about what they learn than how you look. Figure out a way to make it fun, interesting, memorable. Give them practical information that helps them do their jobs better, live their lives more sweetly, make more money, work less hard and get more done. Don’t tell them what you’re going to tell them, just help them see, feel, experience what you’re telling them. Oh, and keep the lights up.

Leave a Reply