I recently taught a marketing class through Eastern Idaho Technical College — “Marketing Jump Start.” The concept was to present Marketing 101-type information and help people move on with the next communications phase or project within their business.
Let’s back up. While I don’t consider myself shy and I don’t get anxious about speaking in public, I’m not a natural teacher. I always struggled when I had to train co-workers. I have always needed extensive prep when getting ready for sales meetings, trade shows, client meetings and work presentations to make sure I was clear, didn’t over-talk or sound scripted. I worked hard to anticipate questions or objections and prepare responses.
Agreeing to teach Marketing Jump Start was a bit of a stretch for me, but I was eager to do it. I knew I would learn a lot from the preparation of the class, and even more from teaching it. Here are a few top experiences I had during my time as Professor E.
- Distill down info into bite size pieces.
This is just like marketing communications. But I didn’t know that before I started. I thought teaching would be dramatically different than talking about a product or service to a customer, but at a basic level, it’s really not. I took the concept I was teaching and peeled back the layers until I got to the reason why it’s worth talking about. This is the same with your product and brand- figure out what’s really important, why people should care about it and build from there.
- Use “strategic teaching techniques.”
The Coordinator came up to me after class and said:
“I was only in here for 3 minutes and I saw you using 3 key teaching techniques.”
It was a happy accident. I didn’t even know what a “teaching technique” was. I should have done some research on “teaching techniques” beforehand, but I was so focused on having good content and being prepared, I figured the delivery would fall into place. I suppose concentrating on content and preparation is a decent teaching technique in a way.
- Public speaking is an art and a skill.
Thanks to a high school speech class where I yakked about Neil Diamond and provided a “How-to” speech on ear piercing, a former career as a tour guide, years of sales meetings, attending trade shows, showing up at networking events and going on sales calls for my own new business, I’m no stranger to talking to strangers.
That doesn’t mean I’m good at it. If you think you have enough experience, you probably need way more. And the only way to get more is to do more. I’m going to continue to work on both the art part and the skill part.
- It was just plain FUN.
It was like having 4 informational interviews at once. I got to learn about other people’s businesses, what they are afraid of, what annoys them. They were open about what they could and couldn’t get done. They asked questions, offered answers, even for my own business. At 8:57 when there was 3 minutes left of class, I was bummed that it had to end.
I won’t hesitate to teach the spring session if I am asked and I look forward to adding to my list of things I learned. When’s the last time you did something outside your comfort zone? What was your most colorful lesson?