Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Master of None

The job of a trainer, simply put, is to know everything and be able to teach it to others.  But it's impossible to know EVERYTHING, you say?  Strictly speaking, yes, it IS impossible to know everything.  But within the confines of a job or organization, it is quite possible to know a little something about every topic.  You may not be an expert of anything, but knowing just enough, well enough, is all any good trainer needs.  Just because you may be a Jack of all trades and a master of none does not mean you can't fool your trainees.  Here are my best tips for faking it:

ASK THE EXPERT
In some situations, it is easier to have the expert deliver the information.  Depending on the subject matter, and your comfort level, it may be easier to teach training techniques to the expert than have the expert teach you the information.  You may even consider co-presenting as it is a great way to ensure the accuracy of information and the presentation of the material is delivered in a way to maximize retention rates.

BE THE AUTHORITY
When you act as though you know what you are talking about, people tend to believe you.  After all, Hitler's success was owed, in part, to his oratory skills.  Of course you are nothing like Hitler, but teaching is a brainwashing of sorts.  Because training is meant to alter the way people think and do particular tasks, the presentation of your training means everything.  By being persuasive and authoritarian, you convince trainees of your expertise on the the subject matter.  Add a little flare for the dramatic and you are training gold. Give the trainees something to remember, and they will be more apt to recall the information at a later date

ANSWER QUESTIONS (OR DON'T)
If you don't know, you don't know.  There is nothing wrong with answering a question by admitting you don't know the answer.  Responding with an 'I'm not sure,' however, should be immediately followed with a 'but I'll get the answer for you.'  Following up with trainees leads me to the next point of . . .

ACCESSIBILITY, ACCESSIBILITY, ACCESSIBILITY
Providing your trainees with contact information, so they may ask questions after the fact, is a great way to buy you time answering questions you may not know the answer to.  It also establishes great rapport with your coworkers, employees, or others you have trained.  Of course, just giving contact information isn't enough - you need to actually be accessible.

KNOW THE MATERIAL
Unfortunately for J. Pierrepont Fench (from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,) sometimes you just can't fake your way.  If charisma just won't do the trick then learning the material is the only option.  Depending on the subject matter and your comfort level with it, you may just have to become an expert.  So, while you may still be a 'Jack of all trades,' you can at least be the master of ONE!

See my post, Prepare to be Dazzling, for more insight on how to prepare for your best training ever.

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