Trainers tell me all the time about the issues they have around using slides in their training sessions. There are too many slides, they’re too wordy, they take too long to create, they must be approved by subject-matter experts—the list goes on and on. When I hear these comments, I shake my head in dismay. Why, you ask? As instructional designers or course leaders, we are the ones who deliver the content—the slides are just visual aids there to enhance what we are doing.
Langevin recommends a training ratio of 1/3 presentation to 2/3 application and feedback. This training best practice is effective and follows one of the principles of adult learning: adult learners learn best by doing. By applying this strategy to our instructional design, our participants will leave our training sessions with the skills and knowledge to do their jobs. When people must learn, and perform complex skills, actual practice time is critical.
Slides are simply a method used to present knowledge to people. We certainly want to ensure they are effectively designed and used strategically; however, don’t forget that as the trainer, YOU teach, the slides don’t!
Here are three main reasons to limit the time you spend creating slides, as well as the number of slides you use:
1. Adult learners have different learning preferences. Some learners may prefer to listen and only briefly scan the slides. Slides can be distracting and cause learners to disengage if they’re used too much.
2. It’s tempting to put too much content on each slide thinking the participants will learn more. Reading can be tiring and cause your learners to “zone out.”
3. Adults learn best by doing. Use your precious instructional design time to create and develop interactive and fun practice exercises. Games, case studies, and role plays will have a huge positive impact on your learner’s skill development!
If you minimize the time you spend agonizing over slide creation, it will result in more fun and engaging training opportunities for both you and your learners, and who doesn’t want that? Check out our Instructional Design for New Designers workshop for more tips on designing effective and engaging training programs!
I'm wondering what your experience has been using slides. What other tips have worked well for YOU? Share your stories in the comments!