What is this site about?
This site is designed to help build your presentation and training skills, learn how to work with groups and get more work in this industry.
By researching the latest tools and techniques and offering great ideas and advice you will work your way toward presentation and training mastery.
Whether you are a trainer just starting out, a learning and development professional, or someone who is an information expert in their chosen field who needs to train people to do what you do, you can follow the Adventures of a Corporate Trainer here.
Why is training so important?
Training and professional development is the lifeblood of any business. We all have room to grow and learn how to be more effective, productive and influential.
Information is everywhere these days and it is harder to cut through the noise with content that makes a difference.
But content is just more information if it’s not translated into real time action. That’s where training comes in; Learning isn’t learning until there is behaviour change.
What are the right ingredients for great training?
Great training is like baking a cake; there are so many different ingredients that make it right.
They all have to be mixed together well to get a great outcome.
So when we are considering running a training program we need to take into account these six factors to make sure it hits the mark.
Your information should address a genuine need for training; people need to have a big WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) to buy in to what you’ve got to deliver.
The shotgun approach – getting everyone crammed into a room without a proper understanding of what they need doesn’t really hit the mark.
If they’ve paid for the training out of their own pocket, the motivation will be much higher. If they have been sent there, you’ve got some work to do to convince them of the need for what you’ve got to deliver.
Ensure your information, and the activities you will conduct in the program, line up with what people need to learn and what the organisation, or business, or individual is trying to achieve. Click here for time-tested corporate trainer techniques.
If a new system or process is being bought into the business, time the training you conduct so it coincides with the system or process roll-out. If you don’t train people at this time you may lose the opportunity for immediate on the job practice, or behaviours can slip back to the old way.
Or if you are releasing a new product onto the market, or having new material published, make sure it times with your training event to catch the momentum.
Once you’re in the training room, the participants are your clients, be sure you’re delivery matches their learning styles and the program objectives. The days of lecture and power-point are long gone. Blended learning, experiential activities, social media research, long form case studies, real-plays and a host of other methods are the cutting edge of what makes learning work. For the latest training methods click here.
Seating, lighting, ambience, breaks, air conditioning, natural light, music, white noise – all of these variables have an impact on the overall learning experience.
Transfer of learning is also important when weighing the return on investment. So ask yourself; if all the conditions back at work – reinforcement, coaching, reward - are optimised for transfer of learning.
That’s where you come in. Getting all these ingredients right means you can work smart, do good and live great. Read on to find out exactly how you train people
How do you train people?
Training and speaking to groups should motivate people to action. And remember, learning isn’t learning until there is behaviour change. So how do you train people, how do you impart your expertise and get it to stick so it makes a difference.?
John Kotter, one of the top gurus on organizational change, says that most people think change happens in three stages. You analyze the situation, and you think really hard about the solution, and then you just change.
The problem is this: Knowledge rarely leads to change, information may lead to understanding, but it rarely leads to action.
So in your training environment if you want people to adopt a new skill, or shift an attitude, or just do something differently then you have to activate them to FEEL something.
Maya Angelou said it best, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
So let’s look at how we do that.
This is my time tested strategy for making sure you follow the fundamentals of good training. I follow this sequence most every time I train and the reason I do that is because it works.
The Fundamental Training Sequence
Here are the steps to follow, in sequence, to make your training great:
- Spark at the start
- Anecdote, question, conundrum, or contention
- A GPS or compass explaining what you’ll be doing in the session
- A Concept, Theory, or mental model
- Experiential activity
- Debrief discussion
- Link to next topic/session/module
I can now explain each of those in turn for you.
1. Spark at the start
Getting engagement from the get-go is an important part of your presentation. This is especially important if folks have been ‘sent’ to the training.
Also, there is a lot of expectation coming into a new learning environment, or any environment for that matter.
Our job is to take control of that unease or discomfort; take the lead and build rapport with everyone quickly. The spark at the start is your way of doing this.
The idea is to start your session with something that gets people intrigued, engaged, and asking questions as soon as possible.
A spark at the start can take many forms:
- A quote or anecdote that relates to the training topic
- An impact statement that shocks your audience
- A series of rhetorical questions to arouse curiosity
- Some kind of quick activity to get people thinking differently straight away
- An image to evoke the senses – a picture is worth a thousand words, after all
- Present a case study that your session will solve
In each of these cases you are moving away from the stock standard “Good morning and welcome to the presentation today. Today I will be talking about…”
When you conduct a spark at the start you have hopefully got engagement and intrigue.
2. Anecdote, question, conundrum or contention
Now you want to build on that with a great story that sets the scene for what you will be doing in the training session. It could be a personal experience, something from current events or industry specific examples.
Or you could pose a rhetorical question, the answer to which is found in what the people will learn in your training session.
Posing a conundrum or contention is like offering a point of view or a perspective about some aspect of the topic they are about to learn. Your job is to refer back to it during the session and see if the participants can work through the logic of the solution.
3. A GPS or compass explaining what you’ll be doing in the session
At this point in time you want to give a brief description of the steps you are going to follow in the session. Let’s pretend I am running a training program on time management and this session, or module, is about the difference between acting on urgencies and importance.
I might begin the session by saying ‘In this session we are going to do a small case study that will allow you to determine what is an urgency and what is an importance in your day-to-day work, then I am going to show you a series of slides that explains the differences in more detail, then we are going to discuss ways to implement this time management technique at work.
4. The Theory or Concept or mental model you are training
You’ll see that a lot of the content on my blog are flip charts. Each of these flip charts is a concept or theory that captures the essence of a topic. It’s your job to articulate that in a lecture style that engages your particpants.
At this step it is your job to ensure you have the latest research on the topic you are training in. Do a google search before your program; look for news items that best exemplify your material. Be sure to use a choice story or two that demonstrates the theory.
5. An Experiential Activity
I like to start off with an experiential activity; others like to do the theory first.
The idea behind this session is to give the learners who want to be active a chance to get hands-on with the material and give them data and experiences. All of which you can debrief and transfer back to their work.
There a couple of things you can do here:
- A case study
- An experiential or problem solving activity
- A role-play
- Show a training video
There are a few hard and fast rules to remember when conducting experiential activities:
- Have a flip chart handy with the instructions written up
- Give people a clear time frame for completion of the activity
- Make sure you are really, really clear about the rules (trust me, people will question you in the heat of learning)
- Be prepared to make judgement calls on the spot
- Allow for small easy victories early on in the program to build confidence of the group to handle larger tasks
Once you’ve completed your experiential activity the next thing to do is to debrief the experience and discuss what happened and what it all means.
Briefly, you must be sure to sequence the discussion questions in a particular order so as to maximise the transfer of learning.
One approach I learned from Outward Bound training many years ago follows 3 basic questions that you can build on:
What – as in ‘what just happened in that activity?’
So What – as in ‘So what does that mean for ‘how you work as a team’, or, ‘what we think is good communication’, or, ‘what does it mean for you as leaders’ etc.
Now What – as in ‘Now what should we do back at work to make sure this experience sticks’
All of us trainers should live and die by the saying ‘learning isn’t learning until there is behaviour change’ And when it comes to assessment - this is why we are there.
A lot of training programs come built with assessments of some sort. If you are training an accredited process like first aid, or forklift driving, or data entry for example, there should be very clear lines of assessment before signing off on competency. Indeed, a lot of this type of assessment occurs on the job.
But if we are training in more conceptual topics like team-work or leadership how do we assess participants learning of that material?
The answer, or at least, my answer; Coaching. There are two times we need to use coaching skills. The first is after we have delivered the content of the training program. The second time is back in the workplace.
After we have delivered the content, and during the training program, we need to ensure the participants have a sense of where and when they see themselves applying the learning.
You can begin to transfer the learning by asking questions that look for the opportunity to put themselves into real time situations with what they’ve just learned:
- ‘What obstacles are you likely to overcome using this strategy (or whatever concept you just trained them)?’
- ‘What is the first thing you will do with what you’ve learned?’
- ‘Where are you most likely to meet resistance when you try this out at work?’
- ‘What are the first changes you are likely to see using this?’
- ‘What will you practice your new skills on?’
Obviously the answers to these questions are going to guide your further exploration of the transfer of the training, but it’s essential for now to do this cursory assessment of the material.
Back in the workplace is the second time you will need to do an assessment of your training. I understand that you may not get that opportunity to do so if you are an associate, or even contracted directly with the company you are working in.
Get Your Best Game On
Training and presenting to groups of people is a great career that gives you the opportunity to make a difference to people and organisations around the world.
Using the steps I have outlined here you are off to a great start. Be sure to visit the blog and find more great ideas and advice and tools you can use immediately in your training.
This site is not about me, it’s for you, but if you need to know I’m real and want to hear my story, you can read my story here…