Monday, April 25, 2011

The Trainer's Recipe of Success

The day has come. You have been excited for your session. You have prepared your presentation, it has got every ingredient you feel necessary such as vivid images, Graphs, objectives slide and of course a special thank you slide. You presented it to your closest one and discussed a little more. 

You reach the venue, quickly set up the your laptop & gadgets, checked the room-temperature and worry a little about the number of chairs – snap, done that too.

AT sharp 9 am people start flooding in, a few get late, you feel demoralized – energy level 95% – but by 9.30 all are in. Their eyes on you. Some of them might be whispering you're too young. Your ‘just a five minute introduction’ about the agenda and yourself is well-rehearsed. But then you notice a few eye-twitches with a yawn towards extreme left corner – energy level 90%.  With a cordial concern you ask “is that understood?” – some nods – energy level 88%. You take their introduction, some of them try to act smarter than you - Energy Level 85%. Then you ask them their expectations from the course. Now you understand your audience and you know how to go about the session. you highlight the importance of the session to your participants and explain how it will help them in their professional / Personal life - Energy Level 100% & It happens with every one of us whether you are a teacher, trainer, or a student.  

There have been different school of thoughts on a good beginning of a session. Some cite that a good beginning grasps the attention of your audience and retains their focus & attention level high till the end of the session. While others hold the view that u can always gain back the attention of your session by employing different audience engagement techniques such as playing interactive videos on the topic, discussions, role plays etc.

With my experience in conducting sessions and technical workshops, I have done some brainstorming and developed following checklist of basic actions I do to make my sessions a success besides my delivery style! Hope you will find it helpful:

ü  Get to the room at least half an hour early to set it up and to greet early arrivals.
ü  You must know your subject well enough to be considered something of an expert in it.
ü  Do all You can to make participants feel welcome, such as putting a welcome sign on the door or writing the word “Welcome” on the flipchart / White board.
ü  Make a sincere effort to learn about your participants, their work, their goals, their environments, and their strengths and weaknesses.
ü  Begin with an introduction to the course, and provide an outline of your objectives and your credentials for teaching the course. Then follow with introductions of the participants themselves. I present an overview or agenda of what the course entails.
ü  Make participants aware of ground rules.
ü  Try to have all their names memorized before the first break.
ü  Work to learn participants’ expectations for the course.
ü  Try to structure courses according to a philosophy of Jesse Jackson’s: “Put a floor beneath each learner and a ceiling above none.” In other words, make sure everyone possesses the basics before moving on to more-sophisticated/complicated concepts.
ü  Actively work to make the learning experience an enjoyable one through different participant engagement techniques.
ü  Try hard to keep discussions on target.
ü  Benchmark with other teachers/trainers to ensure that you are providing the most valuable information in the most relevant way.
ü  Always take pride in the professional look of your materials.
ü  Beware of the “glazed-over” look characteristic of participants who are confused or overwhelmed by the material of the course.
ü  Seek feedback throughout the session—not just at the end.
ü  Frequently invite participants to discuss their real-world situations in light of the learning that is occurring.
ü  Make yourself available to participants before and after the class, as well as during breaks.
ü  Consciously avoid sarcasm, vulgarity, inappropriate humor, and references that may be offensive.
ü  Anticipate questions that will arise and prepare responses to them.
ü  Assure participants that they will never be made to feel uncomfortable.
ü  Incorporate humor into the presentation.
ü  Include relevant news events and statistics in your presentation if required.
ü  Make dramatic gestures from time to time.
ü  Provide a change of pace on a regular basis.
ü  Consciously think about ways to make the presentations interactive.
ü  Encourage participants to meet and work with others in the room.
ü  Strive to relate the material to participants’ jobs, goals, and lives.
ü  Schedule breaks as needed and make sure refreshments are served on time.
ü  Make sure that the screen and flipchart can be seen by every participant.
ü  Of course use media effectively.
ü  Design effective closings & have a group photograph with the participants.
ü  Above all, always Smile while you present :)
ü  And the list goes on…..

Remember, in training every little thing counts. Above check list is pretty exhaustive. Please feel free to share your tips for success in the comments section.

Thanks and cheers.