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When to Change Your Delivery Style

Posted by Lynne Koltookian on 5/16/16 4:00 AM
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You’ve likely heard the expression, “You can’t change a leopard’s spots.” That might be true for some people but not for trainers. Confused yet? Let me explain. Most trainers already know about learning preferences. There are learners who prefer a visual approach, those who prefer auditory, and those who like a hands-on style. But did you know there are different delivery styles?


In our Advanced Instructional Techniques workshop, we show you the three delivery/presentation styles: Dependent, Independent, and Collaborative.

The fascinating thing about delivery styles is that you are already demonstrating all three of them but you may not be aware of it! We actually shift from style to style during the course of a training day. Most instructors have a preferred style they feel most comfortable with and spend most of their time using.


The fun part is that once we are aware of the styles, we can then push ourselves out of our comfort zones and try the other styles! The tricky part is to first learn what style works best with different behaviors, when it’s appropriate to change styles, and how to transition.


Let’s look at what a dependent instructor does versus an independent one as these are the two opposing styles. The dependent instructor prefers to do all of the talking and likes to control everything that goes on in the training class. He/she enjoys lecturing and basically tells everyone what to do.


On the other hand, an independent instructor prefers to gently guide his/her groups into learning and doing things for themselves. Some people might label a dependent trainer as an instructor and label an independent trainer as a facilitator.


Here are three ideas on when to change your style:

1.  Class Dominator – If you notice a learner begin to dominate their table group discussions and/or try to take over your class, it is time to intervene. In this situation, dig into your instructional techniques toolkit and switch to a dependent instructor to regain your class and ensure this person does not disrupt the group dynamics and interfere with your positive learning environment.


2.  Smart & Savvy Learners – Have you ever had a class when people were very smart and experienced and enjoyed sharing their viewpoints? This is a perfect time to flex your independent muscles and let the group direct the learning session.  


3.  Beginner Classes – The opposite group to the smart and savvy group is the beginner group. Maybe you are delivering a new hire class, for example. In this case, participants typically have less knowledge and experience to share. This is the ideal time to get your lecture groove on and be dependent.


So there you have it! Shifting from style to style can be fun and it is a great way to expand your instructional techniques skill set. There are many more situations discussed in our Advanced Instructional Techniques workshop so be sure to enroll!


How and when do you shift your delivery style?

Dealing with Difficult Participants

Lynne has been a course leader with Langevin since 2007. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Education from Boston University. After working many years in human resources and sales, Lynne transitioned into training, her true passion, where she’s been facilitating since 1994. Her training philosophy is simple—learning should be fun! The essence of a good instructor is someone who can make complex things easy to understand and fun to learn. In her free time, you’ll find Lynne cycling, hiking, downhill skiing, and scuba diving.

Topics: facilitation, instructional techniques

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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