Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

Presentation is Not Training

by Guila Muir

How Easy Training Strategies Can Help Make Your Presentations “Stick!”

What would worry you more?

  • Your 14 year old daughter comes home from school saying that her class had a sex-education lesson with a presentation OR
  • Your 14-year-old daughter comes home from school saying that she had sex training.

If you’d be more concerned about the second option, it’s because you already know the difference between presentation and training. “Presentation is about providing information,” says Henry Stewart of Institute of IT Training in United Kingdom. “Training is about building skills through active involvement and interaction. Training is about doing it.”

Purpose of Presentations
Typical presentations involve listening and watching. They demand no active response from listeners unless they include a “Q-and-A” session at the end. Presentations are great for introducing products and “Big Ideas.” They are often not effective if details must be retained, action taken, or behaviors changed.

Purpose of Training
2400 years ago, Confucius declared:
“What I hear, I forget.
What I see, I remember.
What I do, I understand.”

The purpose of training is to provide information and skills that participants will use in the real world. Participants must be actively involved during the session if they’re going to integrate and remember the information. For their behavior to change outside the session, participants must have the opportunity to “mull the information over” and process it mentally before the session is over.

Presentations Can Benefit from Injecting Strategies From Training
What if you only have 20 minutes, you’re expected to “present,” and it’s also expected that the participants will not only listen, but also learn? It’s time to try a “hybrid.” Use a strategy, borrowed from the realm of training, that allows participants to process and retain information.

5 Ways to Ensure Retention Even Under Strict Time Constraints
Here are five quick strategies that ensure retention during a presentation, even under stiff time constraints. For best results, briefly explain to the participants at the beginning of the session which strategy you will use so that they don’t settle into a passive “listening” mode.

  • Preface the session by briefly stating a relevant problem. Ask participants to be ready to solve the problem by session’s end based on what they’ve learned.
  • Distribute a list of questions for participants to answer as you present. (By directing participants to listen and search for information covered, you actively engage their attention.)
  • Ask a relevant question and make it clear you expect the participants to think about it; then have them share their responses with one other person. (Optional: then elicit few of those responses.)
  • Interrupt yourself periodically and challenge participants to give examples of the concepts presented thus far or to answer “spot-quiz” questions.
  • Provide a “quickie” self-test either before, during or after the session.

It’s possible to avoid “Pour and Snore” presentations simply by injecting a simple training strategy here and there. Try it, and watch your participants come alive!

In this article, we’ve looked at the differences between presentation and training. We explore many of these strategies in Trainer Development sessions.



Guila Muir is the premiere trainer of trainers, facilitators, and presenters on the West Coast of the United States. Since 1994, she has helped thousands of professionals improve their training, facilitation, and presentation skills. Find out how she can help transform you from a boring expert to a great presenter:

© Guila Muir


2 Responses to “Presentation is Not Training”

  1. Leif Olsen says:

    This entire site is amazing and a great resource to me; Thank you!

    I’m new to Training and Development and could use any pointer, suggestion, method I can get!
    This article and the many more have helped renew my vision on my role.

  2. Guila says:

    Hi, Leif. That is so cool! I am glad you find this site helpful. Let me know if you have any specific training questions that I can help you with. Happy training to you.

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