001 : Parity and matching the instruction with what’s being demonstrated.

You don’t learn the instruction but you learn what the instruction got you to do

Ever seen a swimming coach shout, ‘Kick with your legs!’ while waggling her wrists up and down? Or a ski instructor explain how to carve the skis using his hands instead of his legs? Confusing, right? There’s a lot for the learner to process when doing something new. This applies if we’re learning a new skill or being briefed in an activity that forms part of a project. People are always following instructions. Saying one thing whilst doing another leads to confusion.

Okay, I hear you say, giving sporting examples isn’t the same as what happens in business it is. And besides, how else can the swim coach explain what to do when she’s not allowed in the pool? Well, maybe the swim coach could sit on the side of the pool and kick her legs in the water and really get specific about the shape of her feet or the ski instructor show a video first (on a small screen) and then demo too – there is always another way.

For the business facilitation example, consider this – does your facilitator make use of the audience and act out the instruction using people and props the activity being briefed, or is it just a list of verbal instructions? Is the instruction and image on the flip chart, the same as that on the handout? Does your facilitator use relevant examples and analogies, or is their creativity a step too far? Remember that you don’t learn the instruction but you learn what the instruction got you to do. The ‘say one thing and do another’ muscle is the first to suffer in poor project facilitation. The creep starts when you were promised group work but ended up in pairs all day. Little things matter.