Last week I had a chance to facilitate a presentation skills workshop. A colleague had helped me re-tool the lesson plan for the workshop and I was curious how it might turn out.
Instead of introducing a number of concepts and then asking participants to put together and facilitate a sample lesson plan, we instead introduced a lesson plan template and let people design a 15-minute lesson plan. Every 30-45 minutes we would stop participants to give them some content around adult learning, engagement strategies and how to tighten up the language they use (eliminate those uhs and uhms).
After mini-lessons with content, participants were asked to revise their 15-minute sample lesson plans and they were given time to rehearse. This process repeated 4 times, then participants had an opportunity to facilitate their 15-minute sample lesson in front of the entire class, receiving feedback.
My hypothesis of why this worked so well? Praxis.
It’s a concept I was first introduced to in Jane Vella’s Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach. Praxis means practice combined with reflection.
Whether we’re training people in presentation skills or how to use a new software or how to address customer complaints, it’s not enough to simply provide good content. It’s not even enough to give participants an opportunity to practice. Learners need an opportunity to try new things out an then reflect. Did a new way of doing things work? Would it work when they get back to their desks? If not, what would need to be adjusted in order to be transferable back on the job?
Good content is important. So are application opportunities. But praxis (practice + reflection) is an essential formula for success.