How to practice for long training sessions
It’s one thing to have a 20-minute TED talk and go over it many times. It’s quite another to prepare for a 3-hour online class or full-day workshop.
The obvious challenge is that rehearsing hours of content takes, well, hours. The problem is deeper than that, though. The best training isn’t just content delivery: It’s the facilitated learning experience that also involves discussion, reflection, and application.
Get clear on the primary takeaways or objectives
In a long class it is not likely that everybody’s going to remember every detail, which means it’s likely a mistake to assume they will.
Knowing your the main points clearly will help you 1) repeat them for memorability and 2) reference other details as supporting them.
Benefit to your rehearsal: Know how to prioritize the limited resource of time.
Make taxonomy one of your primary takeaways
Many people smarter than me have suggested that in a new world, one of the most powerful things we can do is teach people how to learn.
At least part of this is teaching them how to formulate the right questions and how to find what they’re looking for.
Teach your learners how to approach what it is that you’re sharing. What is the structure of the knowledge? At very least, what is the structure of the SharePoint site or wiki where you’ve stored the information so they can later find what they’re looking for?
Benefit to your rehearsal: Know what you’ll need to cover in class versus where you’ll store content for retrieval.
Walk through big picture in Slide Sorter view
Assuming you don’t have time to rehearse the entire class, step through the “storyboard” or big picture of how you’re going to get learners from Point A to Point B. I find it useful to do this in Slide Sorter view first (otherwise you’re tempted to focus on the details of any given slide.
Benefit to your rehearsal: “Own” the flow and transitions.
Know the “big idea” for each slide, section, or interaction
This thought goes with the previous one. If you have to summarize a slide to make up some time, what’s the main point? Hint: If you find this exceedingly difficult, you probably have to much crap on that slide.
Benefit to your rehearsal: You’re better prepared for the very next point.
Figure out where you can give and make up time
An interactive class is a fluid class. When a discussion is really rocking, the last thing you want to do is tell everybody to shut up so you can lecture more.
The only answer I know of is to know where you can give up or make up some time. This is easier to do when you know 1) the overall flow of the class and taxonomy and 2) where to point learners for more info (if you cover something lightly to make up time).
Benefit to your rehearsal: Take the pressure off needing to have it all nailed.
Do a 15-minute walk through with a friend
Sit a friend down and ask for their feedback. Then walk through the whole thing in 15 (or fewer) minutes. This will force you to know the big ideas and how the interactions will flow.
Benefit to your rehearsal: If you can’t do a big-picture version, it’s a clear indication you don’t have command of the class’s structure and main points. Proceed directly to Jail and go through these points again.
And do your learners a favor: Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and don’t do the class until you’ve got this figured out.