I believe that in any teaching session, there are three questions on the minds of every learner present. If the teacher cannot answer them adequately, the learners will eventually lose interest.
1) Who are you?
If this is the first time the learners meet the teacher, they would want to know something about this person who is about to show/tell them a whole lot of stuff.
If this is not the first time, then the question becomes more like "what role are you going to be playing in this session?" - I will be getting to a discussion on roles in a future post.
The sub-questions that this leads to may include:
"What is your background?"
"What makes you an authority on this subject?"
"Are you an interesting person?" and so on.
Give an introduction of yourself if applicable (first-time meetings). Otherwise, if possible, reveal a part of you that your learners may not know exists. Keep it interesting. Showing who you are to your learners is an important part of building rapport. - I will talk about rapport in the future as well
2) What am I doing here?
Perhaps one of the more complex questions to answer, it is often beneficial to let the learners answer this themselves. How do we do this? Ask them!
Sometimes, you may get 'tough crowd' answers like "I'm here because I have to be." This is simply a sign that they are resistant and it is up to you to break this resistance, a topic for the future.
They want to know what to expect. They want to know what they are going to learn by listening/watching you. They want to know how to do something - a skill or some way to improve their lives. Tell them that!
3) How will this benefit me?
This fringes on doing a sales presentation - sell benefits, not features.
When you teach something, it has to have some benefit to the learner. It can be having the learner pass an examination so they can move on to the next phase of education (so they can eventually be out of the education system) or it can be helping them to break an old, bad habit by replacing it with a new, good one.
Tell them the benefits of learning what you are teaching. Not everyone is going to be convinced right from the get-go but a convinced learner is a motivated learner and motivated learners are generally easier to work with.
Teachers, it is not always easy to see the benefits of everything but if you cannot see the benefits of teaching your subject, why are you still teaching it?