One of the challenges of speakers trying to interact with their audience is giving clear directions. I was a participant in a class a few weeks back where we were supposed to put our names on the little name tents. The speaker/trainer had some specific way to do that. But he didn’t say a word about them until several minutes into class, and by that time, most of the class already had their name on their tent. When he gave the directions, they were much more involved than just “put your name on the name tent“, so lots of people had to scratch stuff out or use the back. No really big deal, but the participants’ expressions showed that they felt confused. This could have been easily avoided by a) giving directions as folks came in, or b) not having the name tents available until they are needed.I see this in technical training all the time. Trainers don’t think class starts until the posted beginning of class, and learners come in looking for something to do — whenever they arrive. Have something for folks to do as they enter (registration, survey, assignment to be used, gather information from audience, whatever), and make the directions crystal clear.I’ve been travelling a bit of late, and am amazed at how confusing directions can be in public places as well. Trying to get to the rental car company, I boarded the shuttle bus to be bombarded by questions: “Are you Elite Gold Preferred? Preferred? Elite? Reserved?” I didn’t know any of the options, and the driver spoke so fast I couldn’t understand her. Unclear directions don’t help anyone. Even the airport causes confusion. They have signs everywhere. Most with icons to appear language-independent. But they don’t put all signs in all places. I had to walk 5 gates before I saw the first sign for ground transportation. I had to assume it’d be near baggage claim.Clear communication is not hard. But it’s not easy. Ultimately, we want people to respond, do, act, feel. That requires a message that has a clear point and asks for the action or response.
Directions must be clear, timely, in appropriate language, and in the context of the listener/learner/participant.
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