Monday, December 20, 2010

Tips for Group Presentations to Adults About Honey Bees (with Slideshow)

Adults learn in much the same way that children do. There are three basic learning styles which most people fall into. They are: Seeing, Hearing and Doing.
Everyone has a preferred style which feels more natural to them and makes it easier for them to learn. Most of us are able to learn with the other styles. The best lesson plan will try to work with a combination of all the styles to try to reach everyone.

Try to encompass slides or visual aids into your lecture for visual learners and get help from the audience, involving the doers. (Here's a free slideshow that you can use for your presentation: honeybees.pps).

Think about a time in your life when you learned something new--and this very well may not have happened in a classroom. What learning style was it? What do you prefer? My preferred styles are Monkey-See-Monkey-Do. (I have fond memories of grandpa teaching me how to feed calves this way).

And guess what is determined to be the least effective learning style? Lecture. So much for university. It's so difficult for a learner to stay in an active learning mode while someone is droning on and on. Soon our minds drift off to the grocery list, the fight with the spouse, bills to pay...

When doing a presentation about honey bees, most audience members will be happy to be there, which certainly helps put them in the right frame of mind.

My preference when doing presentations is to engage them and keep them listening. And not just listening, I want them to participate too. A simple solution is to do a Question/Answer Presentation with the audience.

Why? It puts the presentation into the audience's hands and lets them steer the info to the questions in burning most in their minds. I answer the question and give a bit more information as well.

For instance, when someone asks how many queens are in a hive I don't simply answer one. I briefly explain how a virgin queen goes on mating flights, mating with multiple drones. Then after that she returns to remain in the hive from then on.

One answer most often leads to another question. Pretty soon you'll notice a synergy will take place with the group and the questions come faster as the learning flows in a more organic and natural way. The audience will be awake and attentive during this time because they are driving the session. This is when you as a presenter will be feeling pretty effective. (As an instructor, this to me is the best natural high you can get).

This type of presentation can be a bit scary if you're new to it since it can take the control away from the presenter. But don't forget that as a beekeeper, you're chock full of facts, tidbits and information--probably more info than you realize and you can most likely answer 99% of questions.

With children, this type of presentation can be harder to control since children don't usually have their questions ready before their hands go up. And they can frequently break up into chatting groups which can be hard to control.

Another way to do the presentation is to Mix It Up. Take questions from the group and answer a few. Then go to the slide show and continue for a few slides. Then open the floor again for more questions. You can flip back and forth. I find this method works well with both adults and children and gives a little more control.

During Mix It Up, I keep an eye on my audience. Are they being attentive during the lecture? When I see signs of fatique or their attention start to wain that's when it's time to switch. The more you do this the more you'll learn to do a switch before they get tired to keep the energy of the group up.

With this method you can control the length of time you take questions and keep it in time to your own comfort level to answer them as well. If the questions are generating too much chatter with the group or you're losing control, switch back to your slides and your presentation.

A Few Questions Typical Adult Questions Received:

Remember that there's nothing wrong with saying you don't know the answer. No one is a know-it-all. You can always tell them you'll find the answer and get back to them, post it on your blog or web site later, etc. Don't forget in our world, information is being gathered and changed daily. No one can keep up with all of it.

Question: What are killer bees?
Answer: killer bees

Question: What is CCD/What is happening to the bees?
Answer: This one is much too huge to answer here, especially since they haven't concluded yet what CCD is, and exactly what elements are involved--although there's tons of opinions out there about it. Here's a link to a 2010 Report completed by our Provincial Apiarist which gives a run down globally on what each country is currently reporting from their studies.

Question: What are the Bee Diseases/Pests?
Answer: If you're a beekeeper you know there's a raft of them. Currently the most concerning disease is Nosema Ceranae but there are many more. Of course the worst pests are Varroa Mites and Hive Beetles.

Other questions:
How many queens are in a hive?
How much honey does a hive make?
What gives honey it's different colours?

The Ontario Bee Association has a Cool Bee Facts Sheet and Bee Facts which you might find helpful to review.

Let me know if this info has proven useful for when you do your presentations. I'd love to hear from you in the comment section.
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