Monday, October 15, 2012

Prepare to be Dazzling

From the introduction of my blog I've been posting about three things: The User Experience, Customer Service, and Training.  I've focused intensely on customer service the past several months so this post is all about training - specifically how to be a good trainer.  In the past I've written about how to come up with training topics, how to choose the right format, and even a couple of tidbits on what to do during the training session like role playing (or, why you shouldn't include role playing.)  This post, however, is all about presentation.  In order to dazzle your trainees, you have to be dazzling yourself.

One of my favorite librarians is Steven Bell.  He writes about all of my favorite topics and makes a mean presentation.  He recently wrote this about making presentations and, while one could argue that making presentations and leading a training session are two completely different things, they definitely share more similarities than differences.  In his post, he references three things to making a great presentation which I will focus on here in regard to training.  The three things, paraphrased as needed, are listed below:
  1. It's about the audience - not me.
  2. I'm going to enjoy this - not just survive it.
  3. I will live in the moment and not stress if I forget something or if a problem occurs.
Me in the thick of it
These are not revolutionary ideas, but when put to use they make a world of difference.  Let's look at them separately and within the context of training.

"It's About the Audience - Not Me"
As you prepare your training, you should consider first what your trainees want to know - not necessarily what you want to teach them.  Most of the time, the two needs overlap, but every once in a while a trainer has not correctly evaluated the needs of the trainees.  It is instances such as these where the training session seems to fall apart.  You can't guarantee a perfect training every time, but you can certainly take precautions.

Before beginning a session, I often like to ask "what would you like to take away from this session."  Knowing this tidbit of information can help you stay on track and cover key areas of importance.  If you know who will be attending prior to the training, you can ask participants in advance to help you structure the lesson.

Think about who will be attending your training.  You can't always know for sure, but specific topics attract different demographics with varying skills.  In the next several weeks, I am offering a Computer Basics class to cover the most basic components of computer literacy.  I have no idea who will attend but I can make a pretty good guess that most trainees will be in a targeted age range and will have a specific reason for wanting to learn the computer.  Knowing this information has helped me tailor my vocabulary, posture, and overall delivery of the training.

"I'm Going to Enjoy This - Not Just Survive It"
If you can fool yourself into being in better mood, you can certainly trick yourself into enjoyment.  But, the truth is, you shouldn't have to trick yourself into anything.  You are the expert, that's why people have come to learn from you! When placed in front of an audience, you should be feeling a rush of adrenaline.  Use that natural high to show your enthusiasm and the trainees will pick up on your energetic vibe, enjoying what you have to offer.  The best way to enjoy yourself is by doing the next step . . .

"I Will Live in the Moment and Not Stress if I Forget Something or a Problem Occurs"
One of the only ways to enjoy yourself during this session is to relax.  I've already stated that you are the expert and, that being said, it's okay to mess up.  Accepting the fact that you aren't perfect and you may forget something will put you at ease.  If you are relaxed, then you are less likely to forget.

The nature of training is that the unexpected may occur.  If a major problem does happen (i.e. a projector isn't cooperating, there is no wifi even though you were promised there would be, etc.) don't sweat it.  People are there for the information, not your cool slides, so give the people what they need.  You will be surprised by how much that adrenaline carries you through the most difficult of situations.  Presumably, you like the topic you are training on so you should let that passion show through.  If it turns out you don't like the subject matter, then perhaps find someone else to lead the session - one rotten apple spoils the bunch!

As the trainer, you set the tone for the entire session.  By letting go, you embrace the possibility of a better class every time.

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