Presentation Tips for Safety People
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What is the point of knowing the Act, regulation, systems, procedures and standards if you either can’t communicate or help others learn? Poor pedagogy (theory of teaching) is one of the main reasons why the safety message doesn’t get across indeed, sometimes it drives the very opposite. Poor pedagogy can encourage people not to listen, drives the illusion that they have listened and desensitizes people toward all messages in safety.
When I taught Introduction to Teaching in the Faculty of Education in a previous life I always started lecture 1 day 1 with the question: what is learning all about? Often I would get the response that it was about content and curriculum. I then suggested that if one believed learning was about content, they shouldn’t go into teaching. I often suggested I would help them get out of teaching before they incurred a HECS debt and later learnt that kids wouldn’t like them. Learning is not about content but about relationships. If relationship is motivating and inspiring you will be able to learn anything. Some also believe that teaching is about ‘technique’. Good technique is only successful when relationships are healthy.
My children used to come home from school and I never asked them what they learned, I usually asked them if they had a happy day, had they had fun and who they played with. If people experience meaningful and positive relationships, are respected as people not objects and engaged in purpose, they will be inspired and motivated to learn.
It is amazing how safety believes that lecture and telling is learning. No wonder people feel they achieve nothing in toolbox talks and inductions. Like so much that is left out of safety training pedagogy is critical for safety people. If I had my way I would take all parrot training about the Act, regulation, standards and systems out of WHS training and shift the focus onto people. All spoon feeding and ‘dumb down’ training creates dependent dumb down outcomes.
So, if you want some tips about presentation of safety here are a few tips:
1. Maintaining healthy and respectful relationships should be the foundation of safety engagement and motivation for ownership.
2. The last kind of person people listen to is a safety crusader. The crusader is on a campaign, always freaking out about ‘pissy’ things and adopts the modus operandi of dominating and controlling others. Their motto is: ‘I know what is best for you’.
3. Learn some of the fundamentals of effective communication and consultation.
4. Learn how to ask open questions. People know that rhetorical begs the answer that the presenter knows is right, it is fake questioning.
5. Don’t be predictable or fall into patterns that simply bore people off their feet. Be imaginative, creative and consult brilliant presenters and ask them what they do.
6. Don’t mistake entertainment for education or indoctrination for education. Parrot learning is not learning.
7. Create an environment and climate that is non-judgmental and interesting.
8. Try to ‘scaffold’ learning, make small wins and build on them rather than massive content dumps that simply flood people and achieve nothing.
9. Endeavour to ‘meet’ people outside of the classroom setting, take an interest in people and what interests them.
10. Try to diversify your method of presentation, some tips are in the table Figure 1. Methods of Presentation.
Figure 1. Methods of Presentation
The place to start with improving presentation to others is not technique or content but knowing self and how to develop relationships. In the Human Dymensions Presentations Skills Four Day Workshop we firstly diagnose your own learning style before we map it against Gardner’s 8 learning styles represented below in Figure 2. Gardner’s Eight Learning Styles.
Figure 2. Gardner’s Eight Learning Styles.
Before safety people just go grabbing at any technique that may seem entertaining some thinking about the fundamentals of learning is required. Presentations that target only one learning style or technique are most likely going to be ineffective. I cover some of this in Risk Makes Sense on Learning About Learning and in latest book on The Zone of Reciprocation in Following-Leading in Risk. In our training we use a range of micro-training (Video) techniques to improve style and method but these only work when the fundamentals of 1-9 in the list above are in place.