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4 Instructional Techniques for Instructor Credibility

Posted by Jeff Welch on 12/7/15 3:00 AM
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Credibility is essential to just about any organizational role, from management to information technology. However, it is especially important in our role as trainers. As corporate trainers, we’re tasked with leading and guiding individuals on a journey of improved skill and knowledge. How can we expect people to follow us on this journey if they aren’t sure we’re credible?

 

As a matter of fact, the root of the word “credibility” is “credo,” which means “I believe” in Latin. Simply put, our training participants won’t believe a word we’re saying if they doubt our credibility.

In corporate training, credibility must be established quickly. I’ll share a few instructional techniques I’ve used over the years to establish instructor credibility at the beginning of every instructor-led training course.

  1. Build Rapport

As your learners arrive, take the time to build rapport with them. Your rapport building techniques don’t have to be elaborate, just simple actions to make your participants feel welcome and cared for.

Introduce yourself with a firm handshake. Share pleasantries such as the weather or your morning commute. Compliment a participant on an article of clothing such as a tie or scarf. Offer refreshments. Strike up a conversation about common interests.

Rapport is not something that’s developed without effort. It is built when you go that extra mile to show you care. Your kind and friendly actions will not only establish your instructor credibility, but they will also lead to a greater sense of trust and approachability.

  1. Make Eye Contact

As your course is starting and you officially introduce yourself to your participants, attempt to make eye contact with every individual in the classroom. Eye contact is one of the most important non-verbal behaviors you can exhibit as a trainer. It builds trust between you and your audience. It also allows you to genuinely connect with them.

At times you should scan the entire audience, briefly looking to the left, right, front, and back. At other times you should focus on specific individuals to give them direct eye contact. This direct eye contact expresses confidence and honesty to your participants, helping to establish your credibility.

  1. Project Your Voice

Vocal projection is critical to establishing credibility. If you are soft-spoken and timid, you’ll never command your audience’s attention. They must clearly and distinctly hear every word you say.

Keep in mind, however, that vocal projection is much more than just speaking loudly. I recently read an online article by vocal coach, Kate Peters. Peters suggests that credible speakers are effectively heard when they project their voice with passion and personality, as well as with resonant sounds supported with air flow and energy.

  1. Share Relevant Experiences

Unfortunately, many of your learners will start judging you long before you even instruct them to open their participant manuals. So prior to launching into the first content-related activity or exercise, it’s probably a good idea to introduce yourself by sharing some of your relevant experiences as they relate to the subject matter.

I usually start by mentioning information about my education, past training, tenure and/or various real-world experiences. Sharing this information will quickly establish your authority as a trainer.

However, one note of caution: avoid coming across as cocky or pompous when sharing this information. You’re very likely to offend your audience if you spend significant amounts of time bragging about your laundry list of achievements and accolades. I find that by sharing a quick, 30-second sound bite regarding your background, or by telling a short, relevant, and relatable story, is all you need to establish your credibility.

We’re responsible for leading and guiding our participants on a journey, and they want to know they’re in the hands of a capable leader.

What instructional techniques do you use to establish your credibility as a trainer?


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Jeff has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Speech Communications and Broadcasting from Western Kentucky University. Before pursuing his passion for training, Jeff worked as a television reporter, flight attendant, fitness instructor, and tour guide. Jeff started his career in training at the daily newspaper in Atlanta. Training seemed to be a natural fit for him since he’s always been a bit of a performer. When at home, you’ll catch Jeff watching a cooking show, recreating a dish he’s eaten abroad, or exploring one of the many great restaurants in the Chicago area. During the summer months, he hits the road to follow the talented drum corps of Drum Corp International—something he’s done since high school!

Topics: instructional techniques

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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