Ask the expert: Keeping staff from snoozing during orientation

Nurse Leader Insider, November 22, 2010

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This week, Debbie Buchwach, MSN, RN-BC, gives helpful ways to liven up your lecture-style orientation presentation to keep your staff engaged as active participants.

Q:  How can I enhance a lecture-style presentation to make it more interesting for my staff?

A:  Adult learners are autonomous, self-directed, and goal and relevancy oriented. Presentations given in person can meet these needs provided that speakers use sound delivery methods. Aside from a welcome from the CEO or high-level executive, organizations should avoid the all too common format of general orientation: a parade of stars who stand in front of the room, lecture from PowerPoint slides, and do not allow for interaction. This is disrespectful to learners and does not value what they bring to the room.  When using content experts, staff development specialists should help them establish objectives for each presentation. Only vital information that is pertinent and relevant to new employees should be included; remove any nonvalue-added information. When developing the presentation, assist speakers to find creative ways to involve the audience. “If the presenter doesn’t take the time to involve the audience at least every 15-20 minutes, he or she will lose them” (Lloyd, 2002)

Here are some of the ways one might choose to enhance a lecture-style presentation:

  • Guided note-taking.  Provide handouts with fill-in-the-blank statements. As listeners hear the information, they can jot it down on the worksheet. (Lloyd, 2002)
  • Orientation Bingo. Provide Bingo cards with key words that will be used during orientation (Lawson, 2002). Distribute M&Ms or Smarties to be used as markers. When someone calls out Bingo, award a small prize.

Click here to read more examples.

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? E-mail your queries to Associate Editor Jaclyn Beck at and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts. 

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