While teaching about digital and face-to-face communication in a professional environment, it is important for the professionals to first know who their audience is. The CEO of a sales company has different communication needs than a supervisor for a graphic designs firm. The financial manager of a company has different interests and needs than the creative director of the same company.
Teaching about communication entails understanding the needs and interest of your audience and what is their motivation for learning and improving.
Connecting to the learners’ interests and needs will motivate them to actively participate and engage in the training and help them see the usefulness and purpose of such a workshop. It can create additional interest for communication procedures and strategies which they can immediately apply in their job.
“Analysing your audience will help you discover information that you can use to build common ground between you and the members of your audience.”(Lumenlearning, 2020)
Such an audience-oriented approach is called “user-centred” and is one of the modern approaches in learning courses, as well as for other professional areas such as production, sales, advertisements, events planning, education and other professions.
Enabling your audience to understand the learning units and showing learners the usefulness and practical use of information and activities improves their motivation to pay attention, learn and discuss and gives them personal purpose to participate actively in a training. When the audience feels like the learning units directly correlate to their lives and are not just a generalized standard, they feel more motivated and enthusiastic to actually participate in the learning, as well as the activities.
The trainers/teachers should consider multiple factors when starting their training:
Especially in times of modern digitalization and common online meetings and digital seminars and courses it is fundamental to be able to directly engage the audience, as a lack of understanding and motivation might result in no learning achievement and no long-term memory of the learning units. With a “user-centered” approach, trainers directly engage the learners and connect learning units to their daily practices and needed competences and knowledge, raising their motivation to participate and engage.
Each participant is asked to name digital tools they have worked with, min. one they think is useful and helped them and min. one they think is/was unnecessary for their work. After each participant introduces their chosen tools, the other participants can give their feedback regarding the tools, if they have faced the same problems or if the digital tools were useful and supported them in their work.
This activity can help the trainers to find out more about the digital competences and experiences with digital tools of the participants. Whether they have worked with various digital tools before or do not have much experience with different tools for communication. If they have less experience with different tools, the trainers can give more input for later exercises to motivate more exchange and creative thinking when exploring digital tools later.
Materials: Coloured paper sheets, white paper cards, markers
The participants write down possible communication interest, situations and needs of learners on white paper cards. The cards can then be put down on the coloured paper to signify a) interests of communication (what do I need to communicate) and b) needs for communication (why/when do I need to communicate a message).
Example: Person A needs to communicate to know the progress of a project (“progress report”), Person B mainly needs to communicate to find out how he/she can support others in their work (“team support”).
The trainer should add any relevant communication needs or interest which have not been mentioned by learners.
This topic was an introduction into communication and different interests of communication. The topic highlights the different needs and goals behind someone’s communication procedures and information exchange.
Learners are more motivated to learn and participate in trainings when they see the purpose and effective utilization.