Developing Successful Demonstrations

SUCCESSFUL DEMONSTRATIONS: All of us have seen demonstrations in one form or another. Some were more successful than others. The successful demonstration is a wonderful bridge between training and on-the-job performance because it allows the trainee to see the concept at work, actually accomplishing the task at hand. No claim of a vacuum cleaner's power, for example, is as telling as the sight of a spotless rug after a demonstration. However, nothing punctures that same claim faster than a demonstration that goes awry. Keep in mind that a demonstrations can serve as very powerful instructional techniques, able to promote learning and long-term retention in a single bound, but they can also easily be confusing failures, inhibiting learning and doing nothing but frustrating the learner.

A SUCCESSFUL DEMONSTRATION: While nothing can guarantee that a demonstration will function as planned, there are certain strategies which can put the odds in your favor. I suggest that you keep in mind the purposes of demonstrations, which are to: --illustrate a procedure --show how to perform an act (psychomotor skill) --outline the results of an action or series of actions --clarify the consequences of failure to perform properly --involve more than one sense (thereby increasing retention) --provide opportunity to learn by doing.

DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE AND PRODUCTIVE DEMONSTRATIONS: 1. Identify the behaviors, skills, techniques or results that are to be demonstrated. 2. Identify the material, supplies, or equipment needed, and have adequate quantities on hand. 3. Identify the subskills of the demonstration so they may be discussed as the demonstration progresses. 4. Practice the demonstration in advance to make sure it achieves its purpose. 5. Ensure that the room is adequate for the demonstration.

DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE AND PRODUCTIVE DEMONSTRATIONS: 1. Identify potential distractions and reduce or eliminate them. 2. Choose the seating arrangement that allows everyone to see the demonstration clearly. 3. Tell the trainees what you're going to do. Prepare them to observe critically. 4. Discuss the sub-skills involved in the task as you demonstrate. The easiest way to build a house, or a skill, is piece by piece. 5. Maximize the learning by having the trainees practice procedures, skills, and techniques. Then evaluate their performances.

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CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.

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