Knowing your content – your intellectual property – is just the very beginning. Communicating that content is where the magic happens for all instructors and trainers. Educational communication skills can be taught quickly and easily so you do not “over-teach.” Over-teaching, or what we call “fire-hose education,” is giving students too much information too fast without a common understanding of the topic. We eliminate over-teaching by creating common ground with students so at the onset of any new topic there is already a basic common understanding. Then you build on that.
You don’t have to impersonate George Carlin to keep your classes engaged, but you do need to be compelling. Being compelling means providing information in a way that can be easily understood and keeps trainees on target. We do that using building block techniques of education. This means start simple and move to the more complex. It’s an expansion of the common ground you just created. If students never feel lost they will stay focused. That’s successful engagement.
Education is classically defined as creating a change in behavior in your students or trainees. Retention of that behavior is critical. One of the ways we increase retention is moving students through “levels of learning.” These levels are rote, understanding, application, and correlation. Rote is the “what,” understanding is the “how,” application is the “why,” and correlation is the creative use of the material in a new situation. Using levels of learning connects content to the real world, and that’s one of the best ways to increase retention.