You not only have great communication skills, you’ve trained employees before. So training those in other agencies/organizations is really no big deal. Right?
Well, I’m here to tell you that there are many pitfalls to avoid and tips for success. What makes me qualified to offer you this advice? I’ve designed dozens of training sessions and have had a large number of participants. I have been rated ‘awesome’, but also made my share of mis-steps along the way. Likewise, I have been subjected to both incredible trainers and hacks.
So here goes!
#1 Know your client’s business jargon.
Your training might be applicable to many types of agencies. But, few things enamor you to the audience than being able to speak their ‘dialect’. Knowing the buzzwords that will grab their attention. It’s your responsibility.
#2 Know the basic history and current status of the employer.
Commenting on an agency’s long history of excellence is hollow if it was newly formed by the current administration or they are struggling with performance. — What would be more embarrassing than saying you’ve heard great things about the staff’s morale when they are facing layoffs or wage cuts? Do your homework.
#3 Complete your ‘homework’ before arriving there.
I remember a trainer calling me minutes before she began 2 day-long training sessions, in order to find out agency basics that were intimately entwined with her subject matter. Needless to say this portended a poor session, complete with many factual errors. Likewise, for some of us, there was now a sense of great disbelief in/questioning the veracity of what the person said throughout the session.
#4 There will always be someone in attendance who knows as much or more than you, regarding the topic at hand.
We might wish to believe that we are the smartest folks in the room. But the reality is that this is seldom accurate. However, we might be the best person for imparting that knowledge to the audience. Many smart people are terrible communicators. Your main asset as a trainer is your incredible talent for communicating ideas and facts.
#5 Realize that the agency might have their own trainer who will be in the audience. Don’t ignore them. But, decide how much, if at all, to noticeably tap into their presence.
For any number of reasons, groups will decide to bring in an outside expert, such as yourself, rather than utilize their own, in-house talent. Occasionally, these people will resent your presence. Other times, they will welcome your expertise, hoping that you will not only make a great impression upon their co-workers, but that they will absorb some of your knowledge and talent. You should ask about such people before showing up. That way, you do not get broadsided.
#6 The way that you dress and your physical, outward appearance will affect your impact.
You might like your long hair, guys. Or wearing a bow tie and suspenders. Ladies, you might enjoy wearing stylish, expensive, sexy clothing. However, your audience or sponsor might not. Right or wrong, we do judge people by their appearance. Again, I stress needing to know your audience. And, if you do not feel comfortable adjusting your appearance, then re-consider accepting the job, regardless of how much you might want the money and exposure.
#7 Try to avoid distractions to your message.
Perhaps you enjoy using technology in your presentations. But, sometimes one can overdo it. And the message becomes lost. Your task is to train staff, not be in the running for an Oscar for Special Effects. — You can unconsciously have inappropriate body language. Or, as one trainer whom I remember, you can wear clothing more appropriate for wearing on a date than in a classroom setting.
#8 Update your material.
Many topics involve using facts and figures from studies. Or, theories that are popular at the moment. But, these are often ‘moving targets’. So remain current and adjust your presentation, accordingly.
#9 Don’t be merely a ‘reader’.
Overstating what should be the obvious, yet often is not seen that way by trainers, do not simply read from printed materials. I have had many trainers who read verbatim from handouts. Nothing is more boring and a turn-off than that.
#10 You are an entertainer as well as an educator.
In order to maintain the audience’s attention and aid their retention of the material, you need to be somewhat of an entertainer. I don’t mean that you need to be a stand-up comedian. And, if your delivery is poor in that area, don’t venture there. But, be animated, or let your voice tone and level fluctuate, from time to time.
Bonus tip: Don’t bluff!
If asked a question for which you do not know the answer, let them know that and that you will research for it. That you will get back to them, when you can do so. Because once you bluff and get caught at it, you will undoubtedly lose not only their respect, but their acceptance in virtually anything that you presented to them.
Training involves special skill sets if you intend to be effective at it. Those who are the most requested and well-paid, will be those who adhere to the above-mentioned tips.
Of the many positions that I have held over the years, training has been my favorite, by a long shot. May you also experience the rush that being an effective trainer can result in!
Russell A. Irving is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.
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