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Fun: The Ancient Secret of Successful Training

"Just have fun," is often my first response when people ask for a tip on training. In close to twenty years of delivering training classes I have made many observations and developed techniques that work very well for me, but really it boils down to simply having fun teaching. It works like this: if you are enjoying your job, other people tend to enjoy working with you. When my students are enjoying their time in class they have a much easier time learning. And a happy client means a returning client!


So here we go. To help make this "ancient secret" accessible I'll break down some of the elements I use to deliver a successful, effective, and fun training class.

 

Smile!

When I am smiling I am enjoying myself regardless. Even when delivering virtual training, smiling changes people's voice and whole attitude and people can hear it.


Relax - you know more than they do.

I have had to remind myself of this before some particularly challenging classes. I have the materials and the prep. I know at least one thing more than the students, and that is the edge I need to relax and have fun up there.

Quick tip: If someone in my class really does know more than me, I immediately recruit them to "back me up" and regularly check in with them during the class. This validates them and allows them to contribute to the class without knocking me off my game (and I learn a lot).


Get into it!

"Whatever I am teaching is the best thing people can learn right now, and I have the information people want!" When I stand in that mindset, I get pretty excited about what I am teaching. And excitement is infectious.


Quick story: After a full week of all-day training classes, my technical backup told me he loved being in my class. This was the guy who wrote the application and was tasked to sit in the back of the room to answer overly-technical questions. He said that this was just another project he worked on for several months but watching me teach it he felt like, "Wow! This really is a cool program!"


Be with people

Reciting information and hoping people get it is one-sided and not very effective. Really beingwith people is the difference between training and presenting. I am in the room with them, and we all have similar goals for the class.

I interact with my students as human beings who are investing their time to gain knowledge or a skill from me, because they are. Each person has all kinds of things going on in their lives, all of which compete for their attention. So, throughout class I watch their expressions and listen to their responses to get a sense of where they are with the information. If it's obvious I am losing the class, I move into Storytime.


Storytime

This is what I call breaking the instruction up with a quick story or anecdote. It's like a miracle break for the poor people who are struggling to pay attention or already lost the battle. Sometimes it's related to the topic but often it isn't. When I realize I've been seriously droning on and a quick expression-check of the class reveals they are done for, I just stop and smile. "I can see everyone is as into this as I am," or "OK, this has nothing to do with the class, but this popped into my head..." This always brings my class to attention, and then after the very short story, I'll get back into the class.

That's it! Relax, smile, get into the topic and the class, tell a story, and have fun! Your clients will appreciate it and you will truly enjoy being a trainer!

Comments

Very nice post Phillip. Very useful for people like me who don't teach classes on a regular basis, but at times have to wear multiple hats and have to take classroom trainings too. Thanks !!!

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