Friday, April 03, 2009

Characteristics of the world’s best instructors

What are the Characteristics of the world’s best instructors? I’ve worked hard for decades to hone my speaking skills, and while it’s nice to be among the top-5 speakers in a 300 speaker conference, I can never let my guard down. Effective teaching is a journey, and there is always room for improvement!

I run a consulting company and we base our reputation of having instructions who are stellar, both in knowledge, but more important, in presentation style.

Regardless of knowledge, a good instructor must be excited, dynamic and COMMAND the attention of the audience. I learned this skill in College, teaching classes while studying the mannerisms of stellar professors and mentors such as the charismatic Dr. Frank Logan.

I was super-lucky to work for several years under Dr. Logan, an amazing man who taught me everything from electromechanical programming to effective communication skills:

Dr. Logan helped me learn how to teach effectively

Developing effective instruction skills

Computer professionals can have terrible communications skills, just look at these questions, shameful, crappy communications that make me ashamed to be a database professional.

Database professionals are also required to be good speakers, and I have recommend training specifically designed to make instructors become effective speaker.

Dale Carnegie - This is a timeless program, essential for anybody who must deal with the public.

Toastmasters - This is a great way to get started speaking in public.

Auctioneer school - Janet and I attended school and I became a licensed auctioneer to hone my speaking skills. I highly recommend auctioneering school because learning to think on your feet is an important skill for every instructor!

It’s not easy, getting pumped-up over dry technical topics, but YOU MUST seem excited if you want to effective transfer information! You must ask rhetorical questions, and have a wide range of voicabulary, whispering one minute and shouting the next . . .

Today, Stanford’s Tom Peters is one of my communications hero’s, an exciting and dynamic speaker who commands your attention. Have a listen, you cannot ignore Tom Peters:

Remember, knowing your content is only part of becoming a top instructor! If you lose your audience, you have failed, no matter how well you know the content. This is especially important when teaching highly technical topics!

See my full note on developing effective instructor skills here.