Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Give your Instructors the Time

"Time is on my side"

I was chatting with some of the other speakers at mLearnCon 2014 this week in San Diego and the concept of time came up.   Too often people giving the presentations run out of time near the end.  You can tell because they look at the clock and speed up.

You see this in classes as well.  You get toward the end of the day and things magically speed up.   In the worst cases instructors search for things to triage (read: skip).   Activities are eliminated.  Slides skimmed over.  A good class can come apart at the seams.

And the ironic part?   In many courses and conference sessions the best parts are often at the end!

So what gives?

I know exactly what the problem is.  Most content developers seem to start with the time, and then work to fill it.  That's exactly the wrong approach, for a couple of reasons.

First, things always take longer than you think.  Technical issues, audience questions, tangents happen. These types of interactions are often very valuable, so you don't want to eliminate them.

Next, it isn't about the time, it's about the message.   You should always start with what you want to say.  What is your message?  What are the critical takeaways?   Why is everyone there?  Hint:  it isn't to fill time.

So here is the recipe for success:

  1. Start with your critical points, develop content.
  2. Then you practice and look at the clock.   
  3. Take your allotted time and subtract 10% - that is your real target allowance.
  4. Add or subtract content to meet your target.