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Six Rules for Better Teaching and Training

Six Rules for Better Teaching and Training

Six Rules for Better Teaching and Training

Here is how you can improve your teaching and training style:

  1. Respect your audience.
  2. Start from where they are.
  3. Start small and slowly expand and elaborate.
  4. Present your evidence, not your opinions.
  5. Don't be ambiguous; be clear and specific.
  6. Illustrate every big idea with a human-scale example.

1. Respect your audience.

Assume your audience is at least as intelligent, and sensible as you. If your audience lacks knowledge, or if they hold opposite views to you, do NOT disrespect them by assuming them to be stupid. It is your duty to educate them and persuade them. It is up to you to inform them and to convince them of the validity and correctness of your views. But you cannot expect to persuade people you disrespect. You cannot change a person's mind by dismissing it.

2. Start from where they are.

Intellectually, don't throw them a line and try to drag them towards you. They will fight you.

Instead, go over and meet your audience where they stand, and walk them, step by step, to the place you want them to go.

If you are talking to an inexperienced or novice audience, don't bamboozle by using advanced vocabulary. Instead, start your presentation using everyday language and then add additional concepts and details, one small piece at a time. They will follow you.

3. Start small and slowly expand and elaborate.

Everything can be seen as a collection and elaboration of simpler forms. No matter how complicated the great masterpiece is, it started life as a simple sketch, and can always be reduced back to that sketch.

Don't intimidate your audience with too much complexity. Simplify your message by reducing the whole, into six or seven major constituent parts, then name them and explain their inter-relationship.

When you have explained the constitution and the structure of the whole, take one of the subsets, and resolve that into its own subset parts. Then repeat the process until you have elaborated each element, as far as you can in the time available, or until your audience has absorbed as much as they can, in a single sitting. Then stop talking.

4. Don't spout your opinions, instead present your case.

People are NOT really interested in your arbitrary opinions, but they ARE interested in what you know to be true, and they are even more interested in what you can prove.

So, don't be too quick to state your opinions. Instead present your case.

Opinions are ten-a-penny, but convincing arguments are much rarer and therefore more valued. If you want to persuade people, present your evidence, not your opinions.

5. Don't be ambiguous, instead be specific and clear.

Imagine that language is split into two camps: specific and vague.

  • Specific language is precise, accurate, defined, numerical and verifiable.
  • Vague language is imprecise, inaccurate, indefinite, sketchy and unverifiable.

Use specific language; then they will understand you, (even if they don't agree).

If you use vague language, they will misunderstand you.

Your first duty as a communicator is to be clearly understood.

6. Illustrate every big idea with a human-scale example.

Many ideas are abstract: religious, moral, political, scientific, philosophical and psychological ideas are abstract, and therefore difficult to pin down with a tight definition. For instance, it is difficult to give a simple definition for "justice" or "freedom".

To alleviate this problem, humanise your message with a metaphor or anecdote. Illustrate the abstract idea with a concrete example which brings the idea into the realm of the immediately understandable.

For example, you might try to illustrate the concept of "freedom" by talking about Spartacus, or Martin Luther king, or Rosa Parks.

People understand people better than anything else, because they have years of experience dealing with other people.

So, if you can relate what you are teaching to a human example, then you will gain their interest and understanding.

"Man is the measure of all things", Protagoras.

Horses are measured in "hands".

12 inches is called a "foot".

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