Giving Technical Presentations – The Fear Factor

CFI checkride is the longest checkride you will ever take in your aviation career. On an average, the oral portion of the CFI initial checkride lasts about 6 hours, and the flight portion is typically about 1.5-2 hours long. And the oral portion is nothing like any of the checkrides you have already taken. In this oral examination you are the one who will be doing most of the talking.

And what would you be talking about? Mostly, you will be giving oral presentations to the FAA examiner on the subject matter (area of operation from the CFI PTS) of his/her pick; a mock lesson to your student, if you will.

Did you know that giving oral presentation in front of human audience is in fact one of the top fears of mankind, and this has been clinically proven by psychologists? How am I going to sound like, how will they look at me, what will they think of me, what if they don’t like what I am saying, what if…..? You get the idea. This fear is primarily a result of our natural instinct to be social, and not be disliked or rejected by others. And just the idea of being in a situation where others can judge us, evaluate us, and the possibility of a public failure can cause tremendous amounts of anxiety, stress and fear among most.

We don’t go for a CFI checkride without addressing this issue, and perfecting our skills as a public orator, as this is one of the top most skills a CFI is supposed to posses and demonstrate. So how do we accomplish this? The cure for this problem is to have self confidence. Easy to say, but to gain confidence one has to go through a certain number of steps. Your CFI training at CFI Academy will cover all these steps in detail, and will instill all that needed confidence in you, so you not only pass the checkride with flying colors, but also be ready to get to work out in the field the following day!

One such step towards gaining confidence is preparing and presenting excellent technical presentations. Good technical presentations usually follow the same rules as if you were to tell a great story to someone;

  1. Tell them what you are about to say; The Introduction
  2. Tell them the story; The Main Body of the information
  3. Tell them what you have just said; The Conclusion

Take a minute and read the above 3 steps again. Think about a time when you told an exciting story to a buddy of yours, and relate it to these steps. And you will see that these are the universal natural steps of story telling, and for good technical presentations as well.

Benefits of “Story Telling” style of Technical Presentations:

Remember, during your career as a flight instructor, your primary student clientele will be adult learners. Here are some of the benefits of using this method:

  1. increased retention and transfer of knowledge
  2. increased motivation, interest, and focus
  3. be actively involved, and stay involved in the teaching/learning process
  4. encourage multi-perspective view and discussion of the subject matter being taught

Common Causes of “bad” Technical Presentation:

  1. Lack of eye contact between the presenter and the audience
  2. Excessive reading from books, notes
  3. Simply being unprepared
  4. Failure to stay on topic/follow outline
  5. Failure to outline information for easy understanding and parse information out into simple terms that enhances learning.  Remember the audience needs to digest the information, not gobble it down.
  6. Failure to use specific, concrete language.