Why Your Authentic Self Matters When Delivering Training
Training has been and will continue to be a popular talent development solution. As facilitators it is always our goal to have a good training where the learners respond positively to the content and implement what is being taught to them. However, far too many times we encounter learners with initial expectations of a boring snooze and cruise training. In their defense, they probably have been burned before by bad trainings. So, expecting the worse during your trainings is normal.
In my experience as a facilitator, when you show up authentically learners respond favorably. They watch how you present the content, and how practical you are with delivering it. But isn’t that so broad? What does it mean to show up as your authentic self, and why does that matter in training?
Showing up authentically means you:
1) Speak in a way that your audience understands
2) Be honest about the bad stuff and barriers to the content
3) Spend time talking informally
4) Keep kindness at the forefront
#1 Speak in way that your audience understands
When I’m teaching about interpersonal communication I often remind learners that every time we communicate either verbal or written (Text message, email, etc.) that it is NEVER EVER about us. It’s always about our audience; the people we are communicating with. You already know what you want to say, but guess who doesn’t? The person you are communicating with. You must speak in a way that they’ll understand. It’s similar to being a non-clinical patient going to see the doctor. Highly technical people have a way of talking over our heads. Sure, they sound smart, but you’re still confused after speaking with them. To remedy this be mindful of all elements of communication of word choice, tone, and body language. How you communicate with your audience determines your relatability to them. Scan your audience and engage them early on in dialogue formally or informally to get a better understanding of what they know about the content already and what they are expecting from the training. Don’t be surprised if you get unenthusiastic or sarcastic responses. It’s not so much about what the learners say, but it’s the attitude in which they say it. Are they excited about the class, aggravated, skeptical? Knowing this should direct how you communicate with them. If they are skeptical that the class will not be engaging, you can cater to that attitude by being engaging and informative. If they are sarcastic, spend more time talking with them as informally and realistically as time allows (Optimize break times to chat with the learners). They key here is to keep your audience in mind. Empathize with them. What would make you sarcastic or unenthusiastic about a training? Cater to that concern when you’re facilitating. Speak their language. Don’t use $20 words when $2 words will do. Don’t tell cheesy happy ending stories that people can’t relate to. Meet your audience where they are. Get real with them.
#2 Be honest about the bad stuff and barriers to the content
People relate to practicality (Realism). If you struggle with relating to ready-made content, then say that to the learners who you’re teaching it too and give them workarounds to it. Tell the stories about the difficult stuff that don’t end well, but still have a significant message in relation to the content. Church testimonies have this same impact. People relate to imperfection first, and then are inspired by hope. If you went through that and made it out okay, then I can too. My supervisor once told a story about her mom not being affectionate with her when she was a child, and how that impacted her as an adult. The end of her story didn’t have a pretty little bow and a cheesy tagline. It was raw. It ended with her talking about when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the way her mom struggled to say she was scared, but ultimately showed her affection. The class was about having difficult conversations with people. Her story was relatable (Mom issues, communication issues, etc.). How many people could relate to that? Along the same lines of being relatable, be direct about barriers to implementing any of the content you’re training on. Tell them what the struggles will be, and how to combat them.
#3 Spend time talking informally
Take advantage of the opportunities to chat with learners prior to the training and during breaks. Ask them how they are doing, if they are enjoying the training, about things they are working on, weekend plans, the weather, etc. This shows you holistically as more than the facilitator; now you’re human too. When your audience can receive you as a person then it makes it easier for them to receive your content.
#4 Keep kindness at the forefront
I’ve dealt with some pretty rude learners before and have remained in kindness. What is difficult? Absolutely! However, kindness in the face of whatever attitude learners are exhibiting has always paid off for me. I’ve even become nicer with the difficult learners. I’ve found that kindness compels people to become comfortable enough with you to be nice in return, apologize for poor behavior, and makes it easier for them to engage in dialogue with you. Being kind when you’re teaching, when listening to a learner speak, when they see you informally during the breaks, etc. Kindness truly does conqueror. “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue”, Proverbs 31:26.
My disclaimer is always: I’m not saying these things are fire proof, but they have worked for me.
Yours in learning,