Training Tips

Learning Methods

  Sameness is the Deadliest Sin in Facilitating

Even when you planned well, prepared well, organized well, you can bore the learners to death without vocal variety. Variety comes in the form of the "Three Ps":

Pitch changes
Pace changes

Pauses of various lengths can help you

  • refocus the learner's attention
  • create a sense of expectation prior to an important point
  • inject a sense of spontaneity even into the most tightly scripted or memorized sessions

One of the most powerful tools facilitators have is to give the impression that they are discovering some of their ideas or, at least, discovering the best words to use in expressing those ideas, right at the moment of utterance. To create such an impression, you must be willing to Be Silent! Stop Talking! Keep Quiet! At times when, internally, you are searching for the next idea, or the next image, or the next word that will help you express those ideas or images. Also realize that some images and words are more difficult to find than others. So, not all pauses should have the same duration.

Pitch change, or, intonation provides

  • variety to the sound of what you're saying
  • helps you focus on certain points
  • maintains your connection with the learners

American English, both Yankee and Southern varieties, are well-served by a "Jump Up & Step Down" intonation pattern. Most expressive facilitators jump to a higher pitch on an important word early in each major phrase. Then, they move the pitch back down in smaller steps on each syllable that follows. Effective facilitators can associate the pitch jumps with their "discoveries" of concepts, images, or words, and use the downward steps as a tool for driving points home and insisting on learner's continued attention.

Pace changes help you differentiate

  • the intensity of your feelings
  • the degree of importance you place on given segments of the training

If every new moment, every new action, every new image or new memory goes by at exactly the same speed, before long they all begin to take on a similar tone. Avoid this problem by integrating frequent pace changes with your active use of pitch variety and pauses.

Adapted with permission from DIALECT ACCENT SPECIALISTS, INC., Copyright 1996


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