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This a flip-side to a question I just read

As someone who has given classroom training, I know that it is easy to get a flow going and keep talking for extended periods of time. And I know all too well that look of having lost some listeners.

However, internet based training sessions are becoming more and more common (and also, some people are less quick to pick up on their audience). So, as a guideline, how long should a trainer talk before allowing questions?

Is talking continuously for 25 minutes in a 30 minute session bad?

Is there research and evidence regarding attention, engagement, and retention of subject matter to support any particular strategy?

closed as primarily opinion-based by DJClayworth, Jan Doggen, Chris E, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 22 '14 at 18:37

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    It depends upon the complexity of the presentation, the familiarity of the audience with the material, the degree of preparation of the audience and how ambitious the presenter is in presenting the material. And whether the presenter puts all the puppies to sleep by droning on and on. – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 21 '14 at 23:42
  • You should be able to do your own research on time-frames for teaching. – user8365 Dec 22 '14 at 13:04
  • Does your training software offer chat? Seems like most people would be more likely to post a question there then they would when in a live audience. – user8365 Dec 22 '14 at 13:05
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about how to do your job (i.e. how to do a presentation) and not about workplace practices. – DJClayworth Dec 22 '14 at 15:23
  • I thought I pre-empted the opinion based with the request for research/evidence, oh well. – HorusKol Dec 22 '14 at 22:23
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Some folks like to accept interruptions, some want to wait until the end of the idea/slide they're currently discussing, some ask folks to wait until the end of the section of the presentation, some prefer to ask that all questions be held until the end. Which is appropriate depends on the material, the audience, the presenter's style, the context, what presentation tools are being used, whether enough time has been reserved for the talk, and as far as I can tell the current phase of the moon.

Personally I prefer the "pause at the end of each slide, or roughly that, to make sure everything is clear" approach, and I prefer that questions be posted in a chat channel alongside the presentation so they can be handled in the order and at the time which makes most sense. But I've seen folks use other approaches quite effectively.

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Well, what i like to do, when training online - is to ask random people questions, like

"Sam, could you please explain to me what happens when XYZ"

  • where XYZ is something i'd just talked about. You can mix it up to just "ask the room", but typically nobody responds and it gets all quiet and weird.

It is polite, of course, to let people you that you're doing this at the beginning of the session, and to stress it is to make sure you are capably explaining things. It is not to pick on people!

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It is the same as any other course I have taught. The instructor has to break the material into chunks and provide an opportunity to get feedback from the participants. This feedback lets the instructor know that the information is being received and understood.

When you are able to see the class, and the class size is small, it is possible to get some feedback via visual cues. When you can't easily watch the eyes and body language of the students you have to allow the students to provide that feedback by other means: asking questions, completing exercises, answering questions.

A training class, like any other meeting must have goals. When the class is completed what are the goals of the class designer, the instructor, the students; and how can the those goals be measured?

If the instructor drones on for 20-30 minutes with zero feedback it is clear that the instructors goal was to plow though the material with no regard for making sure the student understood the material. It is unclear if that matched the goal of the course designer. And in the case of the students it may or may not have met their goals.

A few months ago I was a participant in a series of training classes via a web connection. The instructor talked in one continuous sentence for the entire 30 minutes. They immediately ended the class with the phrase see everybody next week. They ignored all the questions that students had written via the interface. The slides weren't provided until several day later, and it was easy to see that they had just read the words on the slides. The next week it was clear that that was how the class was going to be run. The students got credit for being logged in during the class, and the instructor didn't even have to have any domain knowledge. Easiest class ever, but zero information retained.

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