When you are designing your session, you MUST consider the intended result for your audience:  What do you want them to be able to do as a result of attending your session?  Will they be able to do this easily, proficiently, quickly after attending your session? What happens if they get ‘stuck’, do they know where to go for help?

This is why I always consider cheat sheets (aka performance support material).  Cheat sheets are not intended to replace text books, lectures, exercises or instruction manuals; rather, they summarize some main points and help the attendee recall some of the material or instructions from the session.


REMEMBER, you are an expert, and you can do all this stuff in your sleep.

Your audience may not have your background and they certainly don’t have your knowledge or ability. Heed the advice of Albert Einstein:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler”

When you are designing cheat sheets as teaching aids or performance aids remember the advice you’ve possibly received in an effective presentation class, the advice is quite simply:

“KISS: Keep it Simple Stupid!”

Photo by ImageLink


First, you need to make a decision what whether you are trying to ensure the attendee either:

  • has the right KNOWLEDGE (i.e. knows the facts and figures…)
  • possesses the right ABILITY (i.e. to perform on the job with the new skill)

For example, in one of the previous posts I outlined how we designed a cheat sheet for a new pricing method. That sheet helped the recipient recall the KNOWLEDGE so that s/he could compare the options (i.e. we assumed most sales reps would be able to capable of applying the information on the job.)


When you are pulling these aids together it is good to include some context: a reminder WHY the student should care. (Will this help a sales rep find more prospects? Will this help a fitness trainer ensure that no one gets injured in his class? Etc.)


While Cheat Sheets targeting knowledge express facts or content, don’t forget to go the extra step with the more performance aimed sheets:

  • When – to execute a certain step (i.e. order, timing, pre-requisites…)
  • How – step by step instructions and ‘ingredients’,
  • Where – to go for more information, help, next…


While some content may lend itself to be delivered in prose, other means may be more effective:

  • Graphs for illustrating trends over time or comparing options,
  • Matrices for comparing options,
  • Flow charts to outline a series of events and decision points,
  • Step-by-step instructions to outline the order in a process,
  • etc.


Always motivate! Go deep enough. Deliver in the most effective manner for your audience. AND don’t forget to keep it simple. THEN watch your students ‘shine’!

Until next time, don’t forget to KISS!


Flickr Creative Commons Image by ImageLink