One of the worst educational experiences that anyone has had is falling asleep in class. Unless you are someone who suffers from a lack of sleep in the night hours, the teacher of the class might be so boring that he puts you to sleep. Their voice, so monotonous and hum-drum, could even put a charging rhino asleep. The presentation and material are so dry and boring that even the pictures don’t add to the experience. Perhaps this is a class that you have to take for a degree, certificate, or graduation… so you need to make it through. Next thing you know, you’re on the other side, and part of your job is to teach materials that are as dry as the Mohave Desert. How can you make these materials and your class interesting, and get your students motivated to learn?
First, you need to provide a direct motive for the students to pay attention and get their interest. Throw an interesting hook at them, make a punctuated statement that gets their attention, or maybe have them do a related activity at the beginning of the lesson. Similar to my blog post on auditory learning, your voice and inflections need to be exciting. Make sure that your class is paying attention, and call individuals out on questions if they’re fading. Especially in a training class for a business environment, you might consider assigning quick activities, or taking a quick ice breaker or rest period every half hour or hour. Your presentation materials or lecture should include some pictures, add in some humor, some maybe some interesting quick fun facts.
If you’re using a PowerPoint presentation, under any circumstances, DO NOT READ directly from the PowerPoint. Personally, this is one of my biggest pet-peeves when I’m in a training class. Your trainees will find it insulting and you will definitely lose them in the text that you are regurgitating for them. Your PowerPoint should be the vehicle from which your lecture or training is delivered, but should not run the training altogether.
I found an interesting tool on Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center website, specifically it’s a tool to help teachers enhance their education. Beyond improving motivation for learners, it’s a great tool for solving issues in a classroom, and many (if not all) of these can be replicated into a business training environment.
Above all, motivation needs to be the first thing that you think of when developing or designing a training or class. If your learners are not motivated, there will be minimal success in retention of material. Spend some time thinking on how to engage your learners and make them interested in the materials. Knowing your audience can go a long way into designing such a hook, as you can play to their strengths and know why they would need to succeed in your class. Their jobs might be at stake, so it should be as successful as possible.
What is the most interesting hook that you’ve seen in a class? Leave a comment and tell us a story to get our attention!