It’s hard to make financial training, especially accounting and auditing training, fun and engaging. However, the professional facilitators at GAAP Dynamics have been doing just that for 15 years and have compiled a list of their tips and tricks to help you with your classroom training. Use them at your own risk; because once you own the classroom, they’ll never let you leave!
The minute that you’re not learning I believe you’re dead” – Jack Nicholson
Be a storyteller – Paul Griscom
Personal anecdotes, “real life” issues and current events are all wonderful additions to financial training and should be interwoven throughout the course to tell a story with the materials. Bridging the gap between the technical aspects of the literature and their practical application through stories grabs participants’ attention and ensures knowledge retention. By telling a story, participants will remember the key learning points long after the classroom training has ended.
Three times a charm – Richard Stokes
Repetition is the key to making sure the learning objectives of financial training are met. I find that three times is about right. First, tell participants what you want them to learn. Second, get them to tell you what you told them. For example, you could have them answer a mini-case study on the topic. Third, summarize for participants what they have learned. This is the practical application of, I hear and I forget; I hear and see and I learn; but I hear, see and do it myself and I remember.
I like to move it, move it – Chris Brundrett
Try starting the classroom training at the back of the room. It is unexpected and it sets the tone that this financial training will be engaging and their active participation is required. During the course, I am constantly moving around the classroom. It’s hard for people to fall asleep when they don’t know where you are going to turn up next! I find that this movement increases participation and keeps the learner engaged.
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Engage me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Find your style and own it – Vicky Hale
I’ve watched everyone on the team instruct a course or two (or three or four) and, if I learned anything, it has taught me that you are at your best when you are being yourself! Don’t try to force a facilitation style, a way of explaining things or a joke. If it doesn’t feel natural, the audience will be able to tell. We all have our own style. Watch others, pick up tips and tricks from them, but in the end, you have to be your own authentic self.
Be dynamic – Doug Lamb
Knowledge and familiarity of the subject matter alone do not result in a successful classroom training; the presenter must also be dynamic. Great presenters will walk, talk and gesture at the same time and vary the delivery speed, tone and volume of their voice to emphasize key points. Presenters should also engage the audience through relevant questions and activities. Finally, to keep things lively, insert an occasional pop of fun, humor or laughter. This is especially important when teaching otherwise dry financial training. You want every participant to feel as though they are part of the journey… and have some fun along the way!
My goal in the classroom was always to make sure they were having so much fun that they didn’t realize they were learning.” – Rick Riordan
There is no substitute for preparation – Mike Walworth
Always be prepared — with the subject matter, learning objectives, participant materials, technology, slide transitions, etc. Even after 15 years of doing this for a living, I still over-prepare for courses, reviewing the facilitator notes and applicable guidance again the night before, to ensure that participants get my best. The presenter should be so familiar with the subject matter and the presentation that delivery could occur without the use of the slides. Finally, I NEVER use facilitator notes while instructing. I don’t need to because I know that I know the material.
Sketch it out – Alix von Reibnitz
I always try to prepare my flipcharts ahead of time very lightly in pencil — nobody can see it from more than three feet away and it makes you look like a genius when you can seemingly do extremely complicated calculations in your head. Also, by doing this you can make sure you don’t miss any key points you want to make sure are touched upon when collecting ideas, suggestions, etc., from the class. Make sure you leave enough space though — it’s tempting to pencil things in very small, but then you may run out of space when you “spontaneously” put them up in thick marker for the class.
Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas A. Edison
Lost in translation – Philippe Longerstaey
I try not to use jokes. They don’t travel well. Things that people find hilarious in some places are deemed inappropriate in others — and I never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. However, what works, at least in certain settings, is self-deprecation. Being able to poke fun at yourself goes a long way toward putting everyone at ease and increasing class participation.
Establish the “Circle of Trust” – Bob Laffler
My motto, which I share with participants, is: “What happens in the classroom, stays in the classroom.” This sets the tone that I am one of them and not part of the “powers that be.” I am there to help them be better at their jobs. Accounting and auditing rules are fairly complex and it is important to break them down into basic concepts. As such, I want to establish a relationship with the participants so they will feel comfortable asking all the questions they’ve been afraid to ask in the past. If I can’t answer their questions at that time, I establish a “parking lot” so that I can research after class and get back to them later.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou