Presentation Vs. Training

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Visual aids help presenters and instructors provide information.
Visual aids help presenters and instructors provide information. (Image: projector ready for presentation image by Dmitry Goygel-Sokol from Fotolia.com)

Many similarities exist between presentations and training. Training often involves presentation as a method of instruction. Presentations may result in increased knowledge of attendees, just as training does. Both presentations and training try to choose the most effective way to offer information to an audience. However, the presenter’s intent differs between presentations and training.

Purpose

According to Westside Toastmasters--a West Coast chapter of Toastmasters International, an organizations that promotes public speaking and leadership--there are six main purposes of presentations: inform, instruct, entertain, inspire, activate and persuade. Training, on the other hand, seeks only to inform and instruct. The other purposes of presentations may increase the motivation and appreciation of trainees, but training does not require them. Training seeks to improve the skills necessary to accomplish tasks successfully, which is not the purpose of a presentation.

Interaction

Presentations tend to focus on the presenter’s actions, while attendees remain passive recipients. Training focuses on the attendees, who participate with both the presenter and the material. During training, instructors may divide a group into smaller ones of two or three people to complete practice exercises and take advantage of interactive performance feedback. Presentations rarely require active audience participation. Presentations require less time to attend than training and rarely have homework. Most training lasts longer than a single presentation and can involve homework before and during the course of instruction.

Equipment

Audio-visual equipment helps the presenter show materials that support the presentation's content. Frequently, presenters talk to over 100 people at one time. Therefore, a microphone and long-distance pointer help. The presentation audience brings any equipment they need to take notes. For training, the presenter or organization provides equipment to help the audience understand and practice skills. Instructors design training with examples and exercises for participants to use on their provided equipment. Training groups are usually smaller than a presentation audience. Therefore, instructors usually do not require microphones and distance pointers.

Evaluation

Evaluating a presentation means evaluating the presenter. Evaluating training means assessing the skills and knowledge acquired by the audience. The Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communications suggest evaluating a presentation on a rating scale of poor to great along the dimensions of organization, content, delivery, use of visuals and ability to deal with questions and questioners. In training, the evaluation considers the attendee’s acquired skills. Training evaluations may include assessment of knowledge and skill proficiency as either an outcome measure or a comparison of skills before and after training.

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