I first published this article on food inspired learning/presentation in 2015 and guess what? It landed me a speaking opportunity in Amsterdam! International speaker just like that!
So I have revamped it, made it more modern and republished it. Happy reading!
The Story begins it
Back in 2015, I started designing courses for my online store. I probably wasn’t skilled enough but I knew I had a message to share. I had designed a course on presentations using PowerPoint as everyone was giving PowerPoint some hate at some point. I needed people to know it was still valid to use.
Half way through the course, I got stuck truthfully because it looked like something that had information you could find for free if you took the time search online.
So I put it aside for a few weeks and voila!
An idea punched me real bad!
I eventually changed the topic and contents. Usually when I plan for training or a presentation, I make sure I have a starter – something to pick the interest of my audience and hopefully give them a sneek peak into what the course or presentation will be about. A starter? Then I thought of food. What if I could use food to teach people how to give epic presentations? Afterall people like good food. Right?
Meet the 3-course meal
This consists of an Appetiser (the starter), a main course and a Dessert. Now I wanted to make sure what each of them represented would fit in very well with teaching and learning so I decided to use a dictionary to get the exact meaning of each term and you won’t believe how much sense they made. Let’s get started!
The free dictionary defines appetiser as food or drink to stimulate the appetite usually served before a meal or as the first course. The keywords / phrase here is “to stimulate”.
As a trainer, the main challenge I usually face when planning, is what to do to stimulate my learners’ appetite for learning and total involvement.
I like to think of new and unique ways to pick their interest and make them hunger for more. The thing with learners is that they have probably been on the same course before or other training courses they wish they never attended, so your aim as a trainer is to introduce something in a different way, sensible and relevant to what they will be learning – it can be something as simple as a picture, a video, or even a task or activity.
It could also be a story. I love stories. Stories that will make me eager for more.
Being eager for more is the result I always hope for. Sometimes though, I save the story for later. When to tell a story depends really on the topic and what I aim to achieve.
Pictures also work a treat. Sometimes they speak to your audience. Good thing is they usually mean different things to people. If you were to ask what they thought of the picture, you are guaranteed to get varying opinions.
For example, recently, when I spoke to a group of children aged 5 to 11 about Road safety, I used many images during the speech but one stood out – the one I used as my starter.
The image was of a girl crossing the road and not looking where she was going, an oncoming vehicle and the girl lying on the floor! To me, this image was age appropriate as I knew they would easily decipher what was going on. When I asked the group what they could tell me about the image, they got it spot on!
Some said the girl was concentrating. Some went straight to say the car should have stopped. Some said the car made a mistake. One picture, different meanings to those who experienced it.
So I asked what they thought my speech was about – already, they knew I was going to talk to them about, and show them how to cross the road safely.
Basically, with starters/appetisers, it is about introducing the topic without even saying what it, getting learners to think for themselves and if possible decipher what the topic aims to look at, before even going into your learning aims and objectives.
Once the appetiser is out of the way, you can then go on to tell your learners the aims and learning outcomes before going for the main course.
The Main Course:
The Cambridge dictionary defines the main course as the largest or most important part of a meal. Wikipedia defines it as the heaviest, heartiest and most complex or substantive dish on a menu.
Heartiest? I just love that word! It describes perfectly how the main part of your presentation should be – extremely hearty. Hearty means spirited, energetic, unihibited, to mention a few.
This is the part where much emphasis must be laid and I always insist on having a few headings and many subheadings and sub-subheadings! For example, my heading could be “Common First Aid Disorders”.
Subheadings will be Asthma, Choking, Electrocution, Scalds, Bleeding etc.
Each Sub-Heading in this case will have its own Subheadings which is the Sub-Subheadings. So subheadings for Asthma will be: causes of asthma, symptoms of asthma and treatment of asthma.
Basically, the major content and at least 90% of the activities should be in this section.
Not all sub-headings are required to have their own subheadings. Decide on this depending on the content of your training. If possible. I like headings to have their own “personal slide” (see example below) just so the learner goes with the flow, me the speaker/trainer is guided and we are both able to tell when a new subtopic is about to be dealt with.
Hmmm yummy! Going back to my dictionary, Cambridge defines it as a sweet food eaten at the end of a meal. Wikipedia adds a little twist to it and defined dessert as a usually sweet course that concludes a meal! My keywords here are sweet and concludes.
So obviously there has to be a conclusion at the end of a presentation. I have been on sessions where the training just ended without a conclusion. I think some trainers do leave out dessert possibly because it’s easy to forget or there is just never enough time. This is why planning and sticking to allocated time per session is essential?
The dessert drives home the message even more.
Concluding a lesson or presentation means you might have to repeat what has been dealt with during the course of the presentation but then who says that is a bad thing? Repeating might mean someone gets information they had earlier missed out on.
During lectures or training, it is common for learners to zone out from time to time especially if they are not having fun with it or if it’s something they think they already know (some learners get like that) or have had a long day of training.
Zoning out isn’t always because you the speaker is boring.
If someone has been on a course for days, they will eventually be tired no matter how interesting the course is. So try to keep things fresh, regular breaks, fun sessions, ice breakers etc.
To prevent zoning out due to familiarity with the subject matter, during the appetiser, you should try identifying each learner’s skill or knowledge about the topic and capitalise on this by involving them more during your lesson. You will probably make their day by making them know you know that they rock!
One way I keep things sweet, is to use questions to get them to try to remember key area of the presentation. This always works. Rather than me repeating myself, I let my audience feel good by getting them to see how good and quick they are.
The Juice (or The Liqueur):
Now when you are having your meal, ideally you should have a drink alongside it right? It usually is a liqueur, wine, juice….. You name it! You can tell that orange juice is my favourite. I’m a sucker for orange juice with bits so I will settle for Juice. Feel free to call it anything you like – maybe even “The Liqueur”- doesn’t hurt to keep them learners intoxicated! 😉
Okay for real provide water, coffee, drinks (non-alocholic of course) etc. Keep them hydrated while learning. But this “juice” isn’t about liquid and keeping hydrated.
To me, juice or the Liqueur is the handout, workbook, worksheet, a video, additional resources/reading, etc. Basically anything to complement the learning process, get learners practising, hands-on and being creative. Always give the juice!
Call To Action:
A presentation or lesson is not complete without giving the learners something to immediately test their knowledge. You may have done this during dessert, so you can certainly use a different method to tackle this, rather than repeat the process.
It doesn’t always have to be a written test. You can throw random questions in between sessions, you can also get the learners to work together on a task. It can be anything really – as long as it is designed to confirm learning real quick.
You don’t want to end a lesson without making sure your learners have something to do to help them prove to themselves and you what they have gained, or if their existing skills and knowledge have gone up a notch. This can be either with your supervision or in their own time. I prefer them doing it on their own with me having input afterwards or when required or asked to.
A Call To Action is basically you making sure your learners do something to provide an immediate proof of their newly acquired knowledge either to themselves or you, depending on how the speech or training is delivered or if you will be meeting with the learners at a later time.
One more tip:
I have been at presentations where I have had to squint really hard to see what was being projected thanks to really tiny fonts. The presenter probably forgot he wasn’t dealing with a printed doc. Ideally, my presentations on PowerPoint have a minimum font size of 20 for the body (nothing less not even 19.5 😉 ) and at least twice that for the heading (most times more).
These days, I use much larger fonts and less words. Less is more they say 🙄
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and intend to use the 3-course meal inspired learning when planning your next presentation.
Just to recap
Always start with The Appetiser so that you can stimulate your learners appetitie to learn.
Next, go to the Main Course and make sure all details of your presentation are here – make it heavy in content/impact not wordy.
Once you are done with the main course, make sure you give them dessert by summarising the main points and keep it simple and short.
Provide some juice or liqueur in form of worksheets, workbooks and handouts that are useful! Always test for knowlegde as you go along a lesson or at the end of a presentation – this meets the need to have the learners provide an immediate response (the Call To Action).
Bonus! Now here’s my own CTA! Now go off and start designing your next training or speech presentation using this method. Let me know how it went!
Need me to speak at your event? Visit my personal site to see what I have planned for you!