You know what they say: Those who can do, those who can’t teach! So sad.
It is a definitive skill to be able to “know what you know” and be an expert at what it is that you know. It is another skill to be able to present, translate, explain and divert or engage in questions around the subject you know so much about.
This is a space where I do not mind voicing an expertise and feel confident in saying: “I know what I am talking about.” At least that is something I am confident enough to say.
Here are some essential skills that I believe are needed in order to be an effective trainer, facilitator or coach around a topic, process and concept; and equally transfer information, knowledge, practice and skills to the learner.
1. Power of Preparation – They say that while you are a student in any class you usually need to study around 2 hours for every hour of instruction. For someone who is facilitating a class in any environment, a good trainer will prepare at least 3 to 4 for every hour of instruction. “Well that’s just crazy Benjamin. There is no way it takes that long!” Umm, then you have ratted yourself out and there are probably plenty of individuals that have seen you speak or lead a class and been less than impressed with your skills. They may have thought “I could have watched a video on Youtube or read an e-book on the subject.” Once you get good and comfortable with what you are delivering then the preparation curve significantly goes down. But until then… get to putting in the time
There is a need for detailed preparation that goes with leading as a trainer. (1) You need to understand the topics you are discussing. You do not need to know all the hidden mechanics, just the understanding of when to deliver information or forward participants to a person who knows better. You also (2) have to be prepared to not be prepared. Anything can happen so let it and work with it.
2. A strong, commanding and empathetic voice - You need to come across as an authority on the topic or at least someone that has good information regarding the topic, process, system or practice. People need to know that you know what you are talking about. If they can’t trust what you say to be true, then why should they be there. If you are not commanding – people will find you boring or Those that would rather not be there may even try to overshadow what you are doing. We all know that most smiley sheets that you receive are based on how much participants like the way you say what you say and how you facilitate, rather than the outcomes from what you have delivered. Be commanding but don’t over do it. You don’t want it to be perceived as egotistical, even if you are. Which leads to…
3. A level of Confidence – There will be individuals that will question your knowledge, approach and expertise on anything you lead. These direct and sometimes personal challenges will come from subordinates, executives, those that know nothing and those that know more than you. You will need to have the confidence and even cojones to challenge them back in the most respectful way without allowing them to divert you from what you are there to do… initiate the transfer of learning!
4. You DO NOT have to be an expert. you DO have to understand the expertise – I think that explains itself.
5. Assessment, Assessment, Assessment – You should evaluate the material you will present, the intended audience, objectives that will be covered and be sure that those objectives are delivered. It is even better to shadow or go through the process with others in real-life work situations. If you don’t make an attempt, then how will you know if the actions that were suppose to take place during the session will reach the correct result.
That’s the first half. Be on the look out for Part II, the other half of what you need to be an effective trainer.
In the mean time how do you feel? Are these first 5 characteristics that you have? Is there anything to add (there always is)? Please feel free to leave them in the comments. Would love to see the agreements and disagreements.