The Evolution of an SME

Last weekend, I asked one SME with whom I’ve worked closely to share his experience going from PowerPoint-based lectures to learner-centered presentations.  Here’s what he had to say:

“Earlier this summer I was asked to join a team working in India to teach the basics in Quality Assurance.  Shortly thereafter I began preparing my presentation slides for my assigned sessions covering six hours over three days. While Quality Assurance has always come easily to me, others tend to struggle with the concepts and techniques and I have struggled in the past teaching these ideas and techniques to others.  I had been preparing my slides when our learning and development manager asked how my lesson plans were coming. I responded that my slides were ready but I hadn’t prepared lesson plans.  He recommended I go through the process of preparing lesson plans, hinting that this was actually was more than a recommendation.’

“’You want me to do what?!’ I asked sarcastically. Lesson plans? Learner-centered? It all sounded a bit too new age to me. ‘I don’t do touchy feely,’ I told him.’

“After a lengthy discussion about the benefits of the lesson plan, I reluctantly began the process of developing lesson plans.  I was provided a lesson plan template and assigned a mentor who had gone through the process before.  At the beginning of the process I felt lost and intimidated as a little voice in my head kept telling me that I needed slides to survive a six-hour presentation.  My mentor kept me on task with the lesson plans, and the learning and development manager kept me reassured that the process would help us develop an amazing learning experience.’

“Slowly but surely the plans came together. We defined objectives for the sessions, and expectations for the participants. Once the objectives were defined we brainstormed content and key points on quality that would help the attendees meet the defined objectives. We also discussed different options for teaching the topics, including hands-on, small and large group discussions.’

“The process was painful as it was a foreign approach – foreign because it added activities to the structure of the course.  I was no longer to be the expert that would do a data download by slides but would actually have to teach and challenge the students with activities and hands-on learning.  With the lesson plans completed, I sighed with relief. I was done with the process.’

“Then I was informed our process would include a multi-day walkthrough of the material – a sort of dressed rehearsal.  My idea of what went into a successful presentation was again being stretched.’

“In the end I learned that by following this process, we were set up to deliver a session which was well-received by the attendees, evident by the learning that could be physically observed during the sessions. I plan to use this process again when invited to speak and I look forward to increasing my presentation prep proficiency.’

“And to be honest, I guess I can do touchy feely.”

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