Become a Better Trainer
As trainers and facilitators, your goal is to take command of the room, show enthusiasm for your content and keep learners captivated through dynamic facilitation skills and strong body language. However, when reality hits with unreasonable workloads, tight deadlines and ever-changing curriculum, it’s impossible to memorize new content. This creates stress and makes it challenging to deliver your content with confidence and authority, let alone manage challenging questions!
The demands of daily life aren’t going to change, so what do you do? The following techniques will help you increase your confidence, stay cool under pressure and ultimately become a better trainer.
Three Tips to Become a Better Trainer
1. Body Language & Facilitation Skills
Believe it or not, your body language has a huge impact on your credibility. When you’re teaching a group of professionals, your eye contact, the way you walk and how you sound have a massive impact on whether or not people will pay attention, believe you and even retain what you tell them. You can immediately begin practicing and implementing the following three physical skills to become a better trainer.
Holding sustained eye contact will help you remember what to say, connect with your audience, manage distractions and display confident body language. How? Avoid bouncing your eyes from one side of the room to another. When you try to look at everyone, you end up looking at no one. Hold your eye contact on an individual for 3-5 seconds at a time, then move your eyes to someone nearby. This 90-second presentation training video demonstrates this technique.
In addition to all of the benefits above, holding eye contact can also help with distractions in the room. When you catch attendees looking down at their phone or laptop, get their attention back by holding eye contact. Eventually, they’ll feel your energy and look up. When they do, simply smile and give a little nod, letting them know you appreciate their attention. This trick also works when small groups start having side conversations during your training.
Walk & Plant:
Moving with purpose will help you gesture naturally, create energy, enhance your connection with attendees and manage the room. To walk with confidence and purpose, you should use normal strides, then plant your feet firmly, make eye contact with an individual and stay planted for one or two sentences. When you do this, make sure your eyes, hips and toes are all facing the same direction. Watch this 90-second video to see this skill in action:
To manage distractions in the room, combine walk and plant with eye contact to address those individuals who are giving you less than their full attention.
Pause & Breathe:
We’ve all run out of breath while presenting. Pausing and breathing has a whole host of benefits. It will help you: calm down, eliminate non-words, naturally slow down, gather your thoughts, be decisive, sound confident and appear thoughtful. Remember that silence is NOT a bad thing. This 90-second video outlines how to properly pause and breath to help you become a better trainer.
Once again, combining this skill with eye contact and walk and plant will create a powerful force to interrupt distractions in the room. Even people who aren’t paying attention tend to look up when there’s silence. If you take a few steps toward individuals, plant your feet, look at them and take a nice, long pause, they’re bound to get the point. And you never have to break stride in your content or call anyone out for bad behavior.
2. Delivery Techniques
We’ve all been there: You’re in the middle of presenting and suddenly lose your train of thought. An unexpected guest walks in the room and you’re thrown off your game. Maybe you simply didn’t have enough time to practice your content and can’t remember what comes next. The following three techniques will help you stay calm, remember what to say and avoid that cardinal sin of turning your back to the audience and reading your slide to them. Watch the presentation training videos below for a 90-second breakdown of each of these skills.
The Three Ts
3. Manage Tough Questions
Even if you do everything else correctly, a few tough questions or one attendee who seems determined to derail you can impact your credibility and the outcome of your training. The way you manage yourself and the room can diffuse most challenging scenarios. The following four steps can help you stay calm and in control of the room, thereby helping you become a better trainer.
Step 1: Think and Listen
Listen to the entire question. Stand in front of the person who is asking you the question and do not move. Really concentrate. If they have a long question, it will be important to understand the whole question. If you are unsure of the question, ask the person to repeat their question. Most times, when they restate the question, they will be more concise.
Step 2: Repeat or Rephrase
Repeat and/or rephrase the question to the entire group. This will help everyone in the room hear the question and buy you a few seconds to begin formulating your response.
Be sure to rephrase long or negative questions. If it is long, rephrase it to capture the essence of the question. If the question is negative, remove negative language when you repeat it back to the group. Please note: This step may be omitted if you have a very small group.
Step 3: Answer the Question
Begin by providing your answer to the questioner. This means holding your eye contact solely on them to show respect and concern. We recommend providing approximately 30% of the answer to the questioner. Do your best to give a short solutions-oriented answer. Once you feel you have connected with the questioner, slowly begin to move your eye contact to others in the room. We call this rolling off. This will allow you to be more inclusive of others and open your energy to the room. While you are doing this, look for someone else who you think may have your next question.
As you finish your answer, refrain from focusing your eyes back on the questioner. If you end on the questioner, they’re more likely to ask a more difficult follow-up question. You could get stuck on this person, giving them control of the room.
Step 4: Get Back on Track
Option 1: If you’re taking questions throughout your presentation, once you’ve answered the question, you’ll want to return to your agenda and continue presenting. If the group gets off track, summarize the points from the discussion and transition the group back to the agenda or determine if you need to spend more time on a given topic.
Option 2: If you can only take questions at the end of a presentation, mention how much time you have left for questions, saving at least two minutes to wrap up your presentation. At the end of the questioning session, repeat your conclusion and next steps so that you’re ending on a positive note.
Ready to Learn More to Become a Better Trainer?
- Presentation Practice Software: Improve your presentation and communication skills on your own time with our cloud-based, AI-driven, affordable presentation practice software. Simply login, put on your headset, upload your slides, present to your webcam and receive instant feedback and coaching to learn exactly how to improve.
- Training 2020: Join Sheri Jeavons live at Training 2020 on February 26 at 8:30 a.m. in Orlando, FL to learn how to enhance your training and facilitation skills.
- Presentation Skills for Trainers: Read about our customized face-to-face presentation skills for trainers.
- Presentation Training Videos: For more free content, visit us on YouTube.
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