Plan B

March 23, 2009


I’m running a course this week on “Measurement of hazardous substances”.  To get the information across I’ll be using a mixture of presentations and exercises. “Using presentations” sounds like I stand up and talk at the trainees, but that’s not how I approach it.  As our courses are for small groups (9 this week), I try to make the sessions more like a two way conversation, talking to the trainees and trying to get them talking back to me – encouraging their participation. I throw out general questions, but try not to let one or two of the trainees dominate the discussion – addressing qquestions directly to the “quieter” individuals. It makes the session more enjoyable for me and I hope that’s also the case for the trainees. I use Powerpoint slides to help me get my message across, but  try to ensure they support my teahing rather than dominate it.

This morning during a session my laptop decided that it didn’t want to cooperate. The presentation “hung up” and wouldn’t move on. Rebooting mid-session was an option but instead I turned off the projector. My pre-prepared slides weren’t absolutely essential – I don’t use them as a script – and I found it refreshing to revert to keeping the audience engaged by what I had to say supported by a flip chart and pens.

I’ve had to do this before. I once had my laptop and projector stolen at lunchtime on day 1 of a 5 day course (from a locked room in a hotel we were using). There are a number of other ways a trainer mght find themselves without the “technology” – power failures and bulb failure,  for example. A good presenter needs to be able to cope.

The lessons from these situations are

  • don’t jut be reliant on “technology”
  • foster various methods for getting your material across
  • make sure you have a plan B
  • try working without slideware from time to time to give everyone (including yourself) a change
  • make sure you know your stuff so you don’t need to use the technology as a prop and can cope without it

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