Common mistakes in training presentations | Sunday Observer

Common mistakes in training presentations

19 March, 2023

A training presentation provides information and guidance to an audience and discusses the experiences of the trainer and the participants to teach them new skills, knowledge, or behaviour. It can be typically designed and presented to improve the performance of individuals or teams by enhancing their abilities, boosting productivity, and increasing their understanding of a specific topic.

The key objectives of a training presentation can vary depending on the specific goals of the training, but some common purposes may include introducing new concepts, processes, or systems; educating employees about new policies and standards; providing technical or product training; enhancing soft skills; and motivating staff members.

A well-designed training presentation should be clear, concise, engaging, and done using visual aids and interactive elements to help learners absorb and retain information. However, a training session can fail to achieve the key objectives due to multiple reasons that can lead to wasted funds, resources, and valuable man hours. More crucially, a failed training session can disappoint participants, which can perhaps impact employee motivation.

Invariably, the trainer is largely responsible for the success of a training session. The trainer’s preparation and winning over the audience can make a key difference in the positive impact of the program, regardless of the type of participation, topic, location, or any other criteria. Hence, the trainers must be conscious of the possible mistakes that they may make (discussed below) to avoid pitfalls.

Lack of clear objectives

Even experienced trainers may walk into a session expecting to be successful because they believe their skills or previous applications are adequate.This is a myth. Audiences always differ and require specific preparations, particularly for clear objectives. One of the biggest mistakes in training presentations is a lack of clear objectives.

Presenters often fail to clearly define what they hope to achieve through the training, leaving attendees confused about the purpose of the presentation. Before creating a training presentation, it is important to determine the specific learning objectives that will guide the presentation.

Therefore, the presenters must start by identifying the desired outcomes of the training through a client briefing. Then, they should create a clear, concise, and simple statement that outlines the objectives of the training. This statement should be shared with attendees at the beginning of the presentation to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Ignoring the audience’s needs

When the presenter prepares himself and prioritises training objectives, he or she clearly identifies the general profile of the audience. Not considering the audience’s needs when the trainer prepares himself is a mistake.

The presentation may be too advanced for the attendees, leaving them disengaged or confused. On the other hand, the substance may be too simple for the audience, which may lead to boredom. Hence, it is important to tailor the presentation to the exact needs and skill level of the audience.

To avoid this mistake, start by understanding the audience’s knowledge and skill level. This can be done through pre-training surveys or by speaking with attendees before the presentation. Use this information to create a presentation that is appropriate to the unique requirements of each presentation.

Lack of engagement

Lack of engagement is a big mistake. In fact, in last week’s column, I discussed how winning the audience over through training and emotional engagement is one of the key points in success or failure. Retaining the entire audience throughout the session is the key purpose of any trainer.

Attendees may become bored or disinterested in the proceedings if the presentation is too dry or lacks interaction. It is important to keep attendees engaged throughout the presentation. To avoid this mistake, the trainer can incorporate interactive elements throughout the presentation.

This can include activities, discussions, sharing funny experiences, or quizzes that require attendees to participate but, more importantly, allow them to enjoy themselves. The presenter may also use funny but relevant short video clips at regular intervals to dispel possible weariness.

Disproportionately managed slides, text, and visuals

Overloading slides with text and visuals is another common mistake committed by presenters in training presentations. Crowded slides can be disturbing to attendees and make it difficult for them to focus on the most important information. Instead of cramming every bit of information onto the slide, focus on the key points and use visuals to support the message. Another mistake trainers often make is not timing the explanations relevant to each slide.

The commonly accepted time is a maximum of fifteen slides an hour. However, some trainers unconsciously take longer for some slides. This happens when they over-explain examples and experiences. This can lead to an imbalance in the time allocated and may diminish the quality of the final outcome.

Hence, in order to avoid this mistake, trainers must keep slides simple and concise and always be conscious of the time. Use bullet points and limit the amount of text on each slide. Use visuals, such as diagrams, charts, and images, to support the information on the slide.

Poor pacing

A poor tempo in a presentation can have bad results. Some presenters either rush through important information or spend too much time on less important material. This can make it difficult for attendees to keep up and retain information. This is directly related to managing slides and the times allocated for each topic. Although there are more important and useful slides and less important ones in a training session, complete balance and timely delivery in presenting slides are imperative.

Therefore, trainers must plan the presentation ahead of time and allocate time for each topic. Practise the presentation to ensure that it flows smoothly and is paced appropriately. Use timing tools to keep the presentation on track.

Ignoring audience feedback

Audience feedback is one of the most valuable components for a trainer, as it gives an instant impression of whether the audience accepts the trainer and his style of presentation. When the audience is enthusiastic, they are more likely to provide feedback on the substance the trainer is trying to teach. Hence, ignoring such an important reaction is a mistake some trainers make when they relentlessly speak about a topic.

My opinion is that trainers should incorporate feedback into the presentation. This can include quizzes or assessments that measure attendees’ understanding of the material. It can also include providing opportunities for attendees to ask quick questions or provide feedback throughout the presentation without disturbing the flow.

Overusing technical jargon

The trainer’s language needs to be appropriate for the audience. They must not spend too much time trying to fathom the trainer’s explanations and figure out what he is trying to say. If the trainer speaks in circles around them, they may never fully catch up.

If the presenter cannot avoid the use of jargon or a technical term, they should make sure to explain what it means when introducing it. More importantly, trainers must use the simplest possible language throughout the session.

Finally, trainers should avoid concluding with a question-and-answer session. One can never anticipate the question the audience will pose, and if the presenter is unable to answer it, the training will end on a negative note, no matter how successful the entire session has been. Therefore, it is best to let the audience ask questions a few slides before the conclusion.