3 “How-to” Tactics to Teach your Clients (borrowed from preschool)

Teaching someone to adopt a new process? Borrow tricks from your preschool days!

Have you ever asked someone to do something – let’s say fold a fitted sheet – and they try . . . but they just don’t do it the right way? You know what we mean . . . Parents run into this problem almost every day with their kids, who either don’t know how or don’t want to unload the dishwasher correctly; or take out the trash without creating more of a mess; or even make their beds.

But you don’t have to be a parent to feel this pain – professionals feel it all the time too, whether they have kids or not. In a perfect world, when we need someone to do something, they’d do it right the first time.

Of course, 99.9% of the time, that’s just not a reasonable expectation. Successful communicators know that articulating how to do something – from instructions to guidebooks to manuals – is no easy undertaking. And getting someone to do that something repeatedly? Fuhgeddaboudit.

How can you help your clients adopt a process?

Believe it or not, we borrow from our preschool days! Take a moment to think happy meals and naptime, and then read on!

When we created this instructional video for our own clients, we focused on using three tricks in particular to help make it effective. See if you are able to recognize them as you watch the conversational and easy-to-follow steps Sharon shares in this How to Use Screenlight video.

How-to Tactic #1: Show and Tell

This strategy is timeless for a reason. Most learners do best with a combination of showing and telling. Our brains process words and accompanying visuals more successfully than either one on its own. That’s what makes video so powerful, by the way. What we might miss in spoken word, we retain through visual processing. And vice versa. Videos also give learners a safe environment in which to take in information at their pace – they can rewind and rewatch as many times as they need to in order to study nuances and key points without the worry of judgment from others. And with a great video, learners can actually enjoy themselves!

How-to Tactic #2: Nuggets

Getting someone to do something the right way on the first try is a recipe for frustration. Especially if you’re trying to sustain their attention for more than a few minutes. Instead, try a method used by the best educators; we call it the chicken nugget method (because, well . . . food!), but the researchers call it distributed learning. Distributed learning involves using short, spaced-out chunks (nuggets!) of information that encourage meaningful learning, as opposed to long sessions that promote rote learning (like memorizing your multiplication tables). Not fun!

When your clients want to learn something – when they’re trying to adopt a new process to help them improve – showing and telling just once is almost always inadequate. Reviewing the information or practicing at the right time is critical for lasting learning. That’s why feeding your clients nuggets of information through video is so effective – they can review small pieces of new material at their own pace over a distributed period of time.

How-to Tactic #3: Coloring Books

Remember the joy of a new coloring book? The smell of the crayons with their rainbow luminosity? A superb trick is giving learners the right framework (like the outlines within which we decorated) to understand the big picture. They need to see how the new process is beneficial and how it fits into already existing scaffolding. When you give learners context – maybe it’s the why or maybe it’s a cautionary alert to ensure their safety – you provide a way for them to connect new stuff to old stuff they already know. Think about how we teach kids “Don’t touch that stove! It’s hot and will burn you!”

Here’s another example: When you watch our video, you’ll see that we instruct users to enter their first name as soon as they open their video file from us. Then we explain context: “Doing this helps us track who leaves each comment.” Boom. It’s that simple. Now, our clients understand why they need to enter their name and how doing so is meaningful for us. And, as a bonus they feel confident and open-minded to learning the next steps and adopting an important process the right way!

A process is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular result. To get your clients to adopt a new process, you need to help them understand how they’re becoming a part of something bigger than a singular “one and done” action. One last tip. Give them some technical language so they feel a part of a community that speaks the same language; you’ll notice that we spend time doing just that in our video!

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