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Training Tips

ImageAre your presentation skills putting your message across or just putting your audience to sleep? Leading coach Lin Sagovsky offers some tongue-in-cheek advice about what NOT to do if you want to connect with your audience.

  • Look for the most dimly-lit spot on the stage or in the room and stand in it throughout the presentation. Having your back to strong light from a window is also a great one - turns you into a mysterious silhouette and dazzles your audience at the same time.
  • Make sure the room is hot. Then people at the back can have a nice kip while you’re talking.
  • Stand on one leg, or with one leg crossed right over the other (especially effective for women in long skirts - makes you look as if you've got your feet on the wrong way round.)
  • Keep one hand in a pocket. Every so often, jingle some change (works for women too - though gentlemen, remember when you've no loose change to play with you have a major advantage here: you can always take the opportunity for a quick rearrangement of some intimate furniture. It'll keep a smile on your face - if no-one else's.)
“Make sure the room is hot. Then people at the back can have a nice kip while you’re talking.”
  • Accompany your presentation throughout with a slow barn dance. (And forward on the right, cross over with the left, step backwards on the right, and-a sideways with the left. And dozey doh, repeat.)
  • If you’re tall, try the 'ship at sea': swaying gently from side to side as you speak is riveting to watch. Rather like a metronome. (Remember to supply discreet little bags for seasickness. Yours or anyone else's.)
  • Wagging one finger will make everything you say emphatic. (AND. WHEN. IN. DOUBT. EMPHASISE. EVERYTHING.) Repeating the same gesture throughout your speech will prove to us how hard you've worked to look authoritative.
  • No-one is paying you to speak from the heart, so whenever you use your hands, keep your elbows pinned to your sides and shoulders tense. This will successfully disconnect your gestures from your torso, rather like that party game where someone hides behind you with their arms through your sleeves and makes your gestures for you. (If people think it also makes you look a bit like a distressed penguin, they're just being cruel. To penguins.)
  • Try never to look at the audience. If you must take your eyes off your notes or the screen, make sure it's only ever to look at one person in the front row (probably the one who's laughing at your jokes).
  • If you have a Q&A session after the presentation, make sure you take at least one pace backwards every time someone asks you a question you can't really answer. (Then, obviously, answer the question you wish you had been asked.)
Following a BA Hons. in Drama from Manchester University, Lin Sagovsky trained to act at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and then studied for a Master's degree in Playwriting in the USA. Alongside a career as an actor and voice artist, in the mid 1980s she began scripting corporate training and marketing films for organisations like Shell International, British Aerospace, Prudential, the Post Office, the Alzheimer's Society and the Foreign Office. Over the years she has become passionate about taking drama beyond the walls of the theatre or recording studio to combine her skills in a spectrum of live business contexts: as a role-player and forum theatre performer, a writer and director of interactive plays, a facilitator of interpersonal skills workshops, a private coach in speaking with confidence, and a creative consultant. Recent clients have included Compass Group, Baker Tilly, Unilever, 2TG Barristers’ Chambers, The Housing Corporation, The Medical Research Council, Mars, Unilever, Henley College of Management, SGAM, UBS and Zurich Commercial. You can find more information about Lin and her work at  www.play4real.co.uk – or contact her on 07957 331997, or at   info@play4real.co.uk.

Vincent Owen, Senior Training Consultant with Interims for Development proposes that the old adage of “Those who can, do…those who can’t, teach” is outmoded, and offers a few tips for trainers on how to manage their self-development.

ImageThe old adage goes “Those who can, do…those who can’t, teach.” There is another even less complimentary follow-up, which says, “Those who can’t teach, consult”!

As someone who has done, taught and consulted, I feel there is something of a problem here. To suggest that teaching and training are options for those people who are incapable of doing anything else could not be further from the truth.

Who’s Training the Trainers?

One of the key areas on the HR agenda these days is that of developing people. If this is to be the case then it is a sine qua non that the people charged with developing others will need to be highly skilled themselves to have the ability and credibility to carry out their mandate. One of the areas in which these people will need to be skilled is, of course, that of training and facilitation.

If we take a quick look at the role of the trainer we can distil it into two key areas – “skill/knowledge” transfer and “ideas” transfer. To be effective in either of these areas, the trainer will not only need to acquire the skills and ideas to be ”transferred”, but must also possess the facilitation ability to make this happen.

All too often, trainers are inadequately trained themselves in the facilitation element of the role which, arguably, is the most critical skill required. After all, with modern technology – e-learning and the internet – a reasonable level of pure knowledge acquisition can be acquired without the intervention of a physical being.

Building Facilitation Skills

So what can “under-trained” trainers do to help themselves if they feel insufficiently prepared to facilitate effectively?

  • Whenever the opportunity to go on a presentation or facilitation programme comes up, welcome the opportunity and attend. There is always something to learn both from the presenter, in terms of their content and how they actually present themselves, and also from fellow participants
  • Review the feedback from programmes you deliver critically and intelligently. A well-designed level 1 feedback from will enable you to elicit where you might be able to develop your strengths further. The feedback form should not be used just to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, but as a useful means of self-development.
  • If you have a participant on a programme you are running who is a close and trusted colleague, ask them to give you a critical appraisal of your performance at the end of the programme. You may not like everything you hear, but this can also be very useful.
  • If you are co-running a programme with a colleague, rather than just go home at the end of the day having delivered your sessions, take out 15 minutes or so and give each other feedback. After all, when you are delivering your sessions, your colleague will probably be in the room as a listener. As co-professionals you can both give each other feedback in confidence and both learn from each other’s successes.
  • Whenever you attend any kind of training programme yourself, in addition to using it as a learning experience from the content point of view, take on board how the presenter actually operates. There may well be things done by the presenter which you can add to your own box of tricks - and less successful elements to avoid using yourself.
  • Use the internet as a form of self-development. By intelligent surfing, you can find any number of sites which cover aspects of training, staff development, people’s different learning styles and the like.

Good luck with your training and your own self-development. Let’s re-write the old adage as “Those who can, teach”

For further information about Train the Trainers programmes and Facilitation Skills training, contact Interims for Development at info@interimsfd.com

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