Skills for Teachers & Trainers

Saying No: A beginner’s guide

No, non, nada, nyet—how we say no in different languages. Nein is the German word for no. Nein sounds the same as the English word nine, which means one less than 10. According to researchers, nine is also the number of times kids expect to ask their parents for something before getting it. Nine. Can…

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Personal Anecdotes: 6 Pro Tips for teachers, trainers, speakers and leaders

I was the wittiest teacher in town until that day. Mid-joke, I suddenly realized that my students laugh because I control their grades. Damn. I shut my mouth and got serious about my job. Which isn’t to say I’m solemn now—keeping things light helps learning, and personal anecdotes add depth to speeches. But my job is to…

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Personal, Active & Brief

We pay more attention when someone speaks directly to us. Salespeople know that, so do good writers, speakers, teachers and leaders. Write Like You Speak, and Speak Directly to Your Audience. Be personal—write or speak directly to your audience, readers, or participants. Although school trained us to be formal and impersonal, it’s better to use direct…

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Teaching & Training Skills: How to present information

I once had a prof who was a total geek; she loved her subject so much that she overwhelmed us with information. While her enthusiasm added interest, it was exhausting. Worse, it was incoherent. Even those of us who took copious notes were unsure of the key points. The instructor failed in 3 ways: She didn’t…

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How to Write Clear Instructions: 6 easy steps

Use lists where possible. Use a separate point or sentence for each action. Make the text large enough for visually impaired readers. How do you know it’s big enough? Test it. Know your audience—who will be reading these instructions and in what situations? Write inclusive instructions; make them simple and clear enough for lower literacy…

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Clear Writing for Teachers: 7 Items to Include in Course Descriptions

The basis of good teaching is clear communication; telling your participants what they need and want to know in a way that they can easily understand. One item that teachers and trainers often forget to clearly communication is the course structure. Making the course structure clear allows participants to relax and focus on learning. Here’s how…

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Teaching & Training Tips: Successful assignment briefs

Good for you. You started your course or program by telling everyone what they need to know about the course, and where to find that information when they need it. Now it’s time to talk about assignment briefs. Assignment briefs document everything students need to know about the assignment. A brief should be a complete,…

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Clear Writing for Schools: Communicating with your Student Body

I’ve attended several post-secondary institutions. All were wonderful places, run by motivated, caring administrators, but most failed at providing information. To clarify, they failed at providing student-centric information. Many schools suffer the same problem. The Problem Before a term starts, students receive numerous emails and letters containing time-sensitive information about registration, payment, accommodations and course materials. They also receive…

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7 Swift Steps To Better Communication

Identify your goal—what exactly do you want your audience to know or do? Identify your audience—who are they, what do they need to know, what do they already know, what’s their preferred method of communication? Outline your message—are the important points included and in a logical order? Respect your audience—you are using moments of their…

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The Power of Words

My heart broke as I watched a young dad yelling at his crying two-year-old. I wanted to swoop in, rescue the kid, and teach the dad how big and scary he was. The dad was obviously frustrated beyond belief, but yelling wasn’t a great choice. I too have felt that level of frustration, in my…

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Navigating Negative Feedback: How to fix problems and get what you want

Someone messed up. An employee mishandled a project; your new car is a lemon; the waiter forgot your meal. From big to small, problems can be solved—and often fixed—if you know to complain, and what to do next. Handled skillfully, negative feedback can generate positive outcomes. Here’s how to make it useful, actionable and helpful….

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