Corporate training on its own is a challenging task, specifically for you – the trainer. Today, facilitators are under significant pressure to be on their game and in control of a classroom while training. Needless to say, juggling this kind of responsibility isn’t fun for anyone.
To make matters worse, there is no such thing as a perfect training session. What can go wrong, will go wrong. Whether it’s a fire alarm going off in the middle of your presentation, participants falling asleep after a long night out with friends, or an audio/video asset not working, there are a ton of things that can hinder your efforts.
Fortunately, you’re not alone.
Recently, Jonathan Halls, author of the book Confessions of a Corporate Trainer: An Insider Tells All, came to Mimeo and discussed the 6 lessons he has learned from over 20 years of training experience. Here’s what he had to say:
Cut Yourself Slack When Things Go Wrong
Nobody is perfect, so don’t try to be! The key rule to being a corporate trainer is to provide important information to the learners rather than worry so much about the flow and emphasis of your presentation. If something unexpected happens, just improvise and create a new path that leads back to training.
Jonathan once had a client change the learning objectives – the night before the class started. We can’t control everything, so just do what you can to help learners build their learning, and be agile to support them as needed.
Don’t Worry About the Presentation
Learners forget most of the trainer’s presentation. Studies have shown that 33% of employees who attend corporate training sessions are uninspired by training content and see it as a barrier for learning.
Don’t bore your learners by trying to be an orator or mini-keynote speaker. Instead, focus your energy on helping learners do activities that build learning. If there comes a moment where you are asked an interesting question by a learner, take the time to:
- Talk it out
- Discuss an example
- Ask others if they have similar questions
Odds are others will want to know similar information and get a better idea of how to deal with specific scenarios. Deviating from your presentation will allow you to meet their needs and develop a stronger learning experience going forward.
Make It About The Learner
It’s always about the learner. Learning happens within the learner and not in a slide deck or at the front of a class. Get to know what happens to your learners within their daily routine and what they’ll need to know to get through their average work day.
The issues that arise from an open discussion will service both you and the learners. Knowing their minds is the key to training success. Use fewer slides and spend more time having learners discuss, explore & practice.
Know What Resources Will Make Your Life Easier
Finding different partners that can help get you out of tough spots is a must. It is impossible to know the answer to every question asked of you, but knowing how to find the right answer will save you.
There are Subject Matter Experts, fellow trainers and even vendors like Mimeo (which can provide next-day shipping if you need extra workbooks) that are available to help you along your journey as a trainer. Take advantage of these resources to get access to more information and knowledge.
Let the Learners Find Answers to their Questions
Speaking of independent, there will come a time for you, as a trainer, to let your learners fly. Learning can be more effective when we step out of the way and let learners use their resources to find answers. It is important to know when the time is right.
For example, if a learner asks you in a session about how to handle a specific scenario like a sales call that has gone wrong, turn the question back on them and open the question to the rest of the group. Collective knowledge is present in these classes, so be sure to use it.
Make Time to Reflect
Take regular time out to consider how your techniques as a trainer help learners. Reflecting on a session, presentation or an interaction can improve future training. Not only can learning from your tactics enhance your skills, but it will allow you to see what you can do better for the people you must train.
Being a corporate trainer can sometimes be a thankless job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact on learners. Taking time to think things out helps you grow as a professional and learn from your mistakes. In turn, this will help you in the long-run.
Don’t forget – It’s not about how good you are, but how much you can help the learners build their new skills.