Today is the big day! You’re a master trainer and have done everything to set this training program up for success. You’ve prepared your room, set the atmosphere, set up your flip charts, queued your slides, and run through every possible hypothetical in your head. Your game face is on, and your enthusiasm is turned up to high!
As you step in front of the room, you take inventory of your class and monitor the body language of your participants. “Frosty” is the word that comes to mind when you read their faces. What did you do wrong? Time to check in and re-focus before you begin your next training session.
Shake it Up!
People want to listen to those they feel connected to. When you take a moment to personalize your interaction with an individual, you create an immediate bond that carries over into the class. The handshake is a universally recognized welcome sign, and many deals have been won and lost over them. It’s not enough to just shake hands—it must be done correctly. Ensure that your hand is dry and your grip is firm but not too tight. Make eye contact, smile and devote your undivided attention to that person for just that moment to connect on a personal level. Take a few moments before each class to greet each participant with a smile and handshake and watch how it transforms your interaction with them.
Whether good or bad, scents of any kind can immediately influence your audience and affect your training sessions. As a trainer, it’s important to know how your own body responds under stress. Do you heat up under pressure? Do you tend to sweat excessively? Certain foods we eat can contribute to offensive body odors when we’re stressed. While you may not notice these things, your audience will! So, eat a mild diet on training days, avoid spices, onions, and garlic, and keep wet wipes and deodorant handy.
Take inventory of your situation throughout the day so you can freshen up on a break if you need to. These days, many public spaces have “scent-free” policies, so you may want to consider including this policy in the pre-course preparation information you send out to your participants. This strategy can help keep fragrances to a minimum, and enhance the sweet smell of success in your training sessions!
You Nailed It!
Trainers use their hands often to illustrate a point, to draw on a board, or even to present a concept or idea. Dirty, chipped, or ragged nails make a negative impression. Hands are often over-looked but can tell people much about who you are. Neutral nail polish is best, and both men and women can benefit from a good manicure. Keep your nails at a medium length, with cuticles trimmed and clean. Keep a small nail file or clipper in your bag in case you need it.
Say It Isn’t So!
As trainers, we often talk for extended periods of time and speak closely to our participants. The state of our teeth says a lot about us. Seeing a dentist on a regular basis is a positive investment in your career as a professional trainer! Look in a mirror after lunch or breaks to ensure your teeth are clean, and keep some water handy to moisten your mouth throughout the day. If someone offers you a mint or some gum (it might be a hint!), take a moment to check and rectify the situation at the first opportunity.
Give Me a Break—Don’t be late!
As trainers, we must be the first to arrive for the training session to set up the room and materials, and to welcome our participants. Arriving early lets you welcome each person as they arrive and makes a great first impression. It also sets the tone for the day and sets you up for success. As a bonus, you’re also demonstrating a variety of instructional techniques to your learners before the session even begins!
In alignment with training best practices, aim to take a short 5-7-minute break every hour. This way you can tend to your own needs while giving your learners a chance to stretch, check email and come back to the training refreshed and ready to learn!
For more tips, techniques, and best practices for your training sessions, check out the Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!
Madonna has been a course leader with Langevin since 2016. She holds a degree in both Social Psychology and Leadership Management. For Madonna, nothing is more important than getting clients to a place where training clicks for them on a personal level. Outside of the classroom, Madonna has a strong presence within her community, working with agencies and business leaders to develop scholarships and programs to mitigate challenges often found in urban schools and communities. She’s also involved with organizations that help improve the quality of life of veterans.