Many similarities exist between presentations and training. Training often involves presentation as a method of instruction. Presentations may result in increased knowledge of attendees, just as training does. Both presentations and training try to choose the most effective way to offer information to an audience. However, the presenter’s intent differs between presentations and training.
According to Westside Toastmasters--a West Coast chapter of Toastmasters International, an organizations that promotes public speaking and leadership--there are six main purposes of presentations: inform, instruct, entertain, inspire, activate and persuade. Training, on the other hand, seeks only to inform and instruct. The other purposes of presentations may increase the motivation and appreciation of trainees, but training does not require them. Training seeks to improve the skills necessary to accomplish tasks successfully, which is not the purpose of a presentation.
Presentations tend to focus on the presenter’s actions, while attendees remain passive recipients. Training focuses on the attendees, who participate with both the presenter and the material. During training, instructors may divide a group into smaller ones of two or three people to complete practice exercises and take advantage of interactive performance feedback. Presentations rarely require active audience participation. Presentations require less time to attend than training and rarely have homework. Most training lasts longer than a single presentation and can involve homework before and during the course of instruction.
Audio-visual equipment helps the presenter show materials that support the presentation's content. Frequently, presenters talk to over 100 people at one time. Therefore, a microphone and long-distance pointer help. The presentation audience brings any equipment they need to take notes. For training, the presenter or organization provides equipment to help the audience understand and practice skills. Instructors design training with examples and exercises for participants to use on their provided equipment. Training groups are usually smaller than a presentation audience. Therefore, instructors usually do not require microphones and distance pointers.
Evaluating a presentation means evaluating the presenter. Evaluating training means assessing the skills and knowledge acquired by the audience. The Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communications suggest evaluating a presentation on a rating scale of poor to great along the dimensions of organization, content, delivery, use of visuals and ability to deal with questions and questioners. In training, the evaluation considers the attendee’s acquired skills. Training evaluations may include assessment of knowledge and skill proficiency as either an outcome measure or a comparison of skills before and after training.
- Westside Toastmasters: The Six Main Purposes of Presentations
- National Highway Institute: NHI Instructor Update
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupation Safety and Health Administration: Presenting Effective Presentations with Visual Aids
- Connexions Organization – The Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communications: Presentation Feedback
Barbara Brown has been a freelance writer since 2006. She worked 10 years performing psychological testing before moving into information research. She worked as a knowledge management specialist and project manager in defense and health research. She is studying to be a master gardener and has a master's degree in psychology from Southern Methodist University.