Slaying Dragons #22 – Teaching

John Watkinson looks at teaching.

I have spent a significant part of my life explaining things, because, for reasons that are not clear, I am considered to be good at it, good enough to become a metateacher, someone who teaches others to teach. Over the years I have tried to work out for my own purposes what makes a good teacher and perhaps I can say something here about what works for me and possibly some others, and what patently doesn’t work.

One of the key points to make about a presentation is that it is a product like any other, and it needs to be designed so that it is fit for purpose. In the case of skill training, it is possible to define quite closely what the successful delegate will be able to do after the training. It is also possible for the delegate to demonstrate that ability, so one can be sure the objectives were met.

If, on the other hand, the goal of the presentation is to amuse the audience after dinner, then there is a little more freedom. I believe there should be an element of amusement in all presentations, as it helps to keep the attention of the audience. People who don’t grasp the similarities between education and entertainment don’t know much about either.

There are two golden rules about giving a presentation of any kind. The first is to set the expectations of the audience and the second is to meet them. It is very important to set people’s expectations, because if you don’t they will…

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