Your primary goal in becoming a better professional development teacher is to assess the needs of your audience and strategize the best way to break through to them. Communication is the key to addressing their goals on a level that they find helpful. Even more, working with adults is not like working with children; there are several additional layers of effort needed to instruct older individuals. This inherently means more planning, which brings us to our first and foremost tenant.
Plans and Preparation
Planning is perhaps the most influential tool you can use to your ability to overcome challenges like teaching others excellent professional development skills. A good rule to use when trying to manage time in the preparation phase is to “double your chances.” For example, if you wanted to deliver a two-hour speech on an aspect that you felt was important, you should put in at least four hours of research and preparation into the speech. The idea is to develop every point in your timeline, from public speaking to the slides, segues between segments, and so on. This way when the moment arrives, you can excel in the delivery phase.
Another aspect of teaching professional development skills is to engage your audience with choices. If individuals listen to instructors for too long without participating, they are liable to neglect to listen. To keep them focused, pose queries that can be rhetorical, but require effort. For example, in the previous scenario of delivering a speech, one might take the time to have participants write down an example of two issues they have and choose between the more important priority for their goals. By doing this, not only do you show them the power of choice, but you also keep them thinking about how it can improve their professional habits.
Experience Changes Interactions
You don’t want to treat adults like children. Patronizing them is usually the fastest way to lose their respect. And just as you’ll want to keep them under the notion that they are controlling their education, you’ll also want to tailor that education to their experiences. One way to fail at this is to take the overused stance of forced accountability, or “guilt tripping.” It is generally not the greatest idea to remind individuals of their past mistakes.
Praise is an excellent teaching tool, and should never be undervalued. For example, if you’ve been exploring past successes in a group setting, it’s important to highlight the strengths of others. As someone recounts a tale or testimony of their particular professional development skill, they should be lauded for their efforts and strategy, given that they were appropriate. This sort of feedback will encourage others to do the same for you in a meta sense; students will approach you and offer their own feedback on your performance as an instructor. Once you’ve created a positive link on this level of communication, you’ve already taught students an invaluable tool that they’ll use for the rest of their careers.