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2011-06-17 20:53:23

How Many Teaching Methods Do You Have in your Repertoire?

Do they snooze when you’re in front of them? Do their eyes slowly close—and then blink open when they’re startled by something you do in the classroom or meeting? Do you feel frustrated when you can’t keep their attention?

Whether you’re doing a sales presentation, a meeting, or a training,  the solution to audience attention is simple: Gain more teaching and presentation skills. Increase your ‘repertoire’.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But, the most difficult thing for us adults to do is to gain new skills. Instead, we tend to try to purchase competency (invest in software, programs, and ‘things’ that supposedly do the work for us). But, in this case, all the PowerPoints in the world can’t overcome a boring presenter! (In fact, PowerPoint has been so over-used to cover lack of trainer skill, that people grown when they hear there will be a PowerPoint presentation. I call it ‘death by PowerPoint…).

You Can Expand Your Teaching Repertoire

Did you work to put yourself through college? I did. I found out it was much easier to put my musical talent to work and get paid, than to pick beans! So, when I was nineteen, I got a job playing piano in a bar. (Boy, did I learn about human nature). When I was tickling the ivories, playing my way through college and graduate school, I noticed that, the more tunes—and styles--I mastered, the more tips I made. I could please more of the people more of the time. It’s the same way with teaching, or doing keynotes, or presentations, or facilitation. The more skills you hone, the easier it is to be effective in front of people.

The Problem: Most Presenters Are ‘One Trick’ Ponies

Most of us who present start by getting in front of people, and naturally doing some things right. We get acceptance. We get acclaim. We find we’re good talkers in front of people. In fact, most people think that refining presentation skills are merely a function of talking better.

So, we try to be more clever. To tell better jokes. But, then, we hit our ‘ceiling of achievement’. We can’t seem to get any better. So, we get frustrated. We try harder. That doesn’t help. Sometimes we look for someone who can help us ‘talk better’. We take a class thinking that someone will make us titillating on the stage. The interesting thing is that—it’s not the answer.

Open the Mind: Gain a Different Type of Skills

Sure, there are a myriad of presentation skills that help us in front of audiences. We can speak slower, speak more clearly, pause more effectively, and use our bodies more effectively.  But, in addition, there are teaching methods that increase the effectiveness of our presentations. These include

Innovative crafting of the presentation
Audience participation
Use of visuals and props

How good are you at these teaching methods? Do you tend to rely on the good old stand-by, lecture?  Or, maybe you’re relying on that second old stand-by, discussion. If so, you’re boring your audiences to death! Not only that, lecture and discussion don’t result in long-term retention. Why? Because we’re not involving our audiences in action learning. We’re only providing them gentle mental exercise. That’s not enough today.

(Studies show that the adult can only focus on something for less than one minute at a time. You just can’t afford to talk more than about 10 minutes in today’s attention-deficit climate!)

Is the Answer Presentation Tricks or Facilitation Methods?

I teach Instructor Development Workshop in the state of Washington. This fulfills a requirement for instructors to teach clock-hour approved courses in the state. So many times, people come into the class wanting me to ‘fix them’ so they will be fascinating in front of people. What I have to do is to teach them all those other methods to teach effectively—skills they can learn and master. It’s interesting to watch their paradigms switch from “make me another Johnny Carson or Don Rickles” to “I’m grasping great teaching methods that work for me.”

42 ‘Alternatives to Lecture’ Teaching Methods for You to Use

One of the things I do in Instructor Development is to demonstrate to students many teaching methods. Then, we ‘take it apart’ and talk about how they would apply these methods to their own situations. I’ve developed a list of 42 Innovative Presentation Methods to summarize the course. Click here to get it.


Carla Cross, CRB, MA, is an international speaker, writer, and coach, specializing in real estate management. A National Realtor Educator of the Year, Carla was recently named one of the 50 most influential women in real estate. Join her newsletter community, and receive Carla’s new eBook, Getting to Yes: Ten Tools to Remove Barriers to a Decision. Click here.  Contact Carla at 425-392-6914 or

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