While living the life of a traveling training consultant can be rewarding, in many ways it can prove to be quite a challenge. The glamour of business travel slowly fades to a thing of the past. Flight delays and cancellations, traffic, rental car hassle, the noisy air conditioning at the hotel, getting lost finding your training location, your cell phone battery dying, or forgetting your hair spray on the morning of your first session can all put you on edge.
As a top training consultant you strive for perfection and you can't help but worry about your participant materials arriving at the right place at the right time, checking out AV equipment, and if you are doing a virtual session (vILT) the struggles to get the software up and running can be equally daunting.
Attending to all of the logistics involved with just arriving at your training location with the right materials to get started can sometimes be a distraction that leads to forgetting some of the basic fundamentals involved in delivering a quality learning experience for your participants.
Download a copy of the 6 P's for Training Consultants Checklist to help you prepare for your next training session. Feel free to add items to the checklist to suit your specific needs.
It can be helpful to review the 6 P's of Training Consultant Excellence to make sure these fundamentals stay top of mind everyday that you are on the road as a contract training consultant.
As hectic as it can be dealing with the details of getting to your training location, being well prepared is not only fundamentally essential, but it is also one of the best ways to manage stress. Communicating in advance with the client, studying and rehearsing your material, arriving at the training location early, checking out equipment and room arrangements may seem like obvious and simple tasks, but often can get overlooked when you are in a hurry.
Delivering a well organized presentation is foundational to excellent training. Remembering to outline the objectives, delivering the content thoroughly and in sequence according to the facilitator guide, building in transitions and summarizing key points are all part of an effective presentation. Remember to provide clear instructions for exercises and activities, use clear understandable language and illustrate important points with examples.
Basic presentation skills also apply in a training setting. Using a strong, clear voice, maintaining appropriate eye contact and gestures, and drawing participants into the session all help to create a more engaging learning environment. Often, the best training consultants and facilitators are not the ones who always seem to have the right answers, but those who ask the right questions.
Being well prepared and knowing your material can allow you to be more perceptive and helps you to focus on the subtleties of what's happening in your classroom. Keen perceptions helps you to know when to speed up or slow down the pace, when to be patient and listen when participants need to be put at ease. Sharp perception can distinguish the truly masterful training consultants from the ordinary "talking heads". In addition, always remember that even though you may have delivered the same session 20 times, it is all new for your participants on a new day of training. Make an effort to treat the material as if it is the first time you have delivered it. Keep it fresh!
Participation and Practice
Participation and practice are the "bread and butter" of facilitation. It is about doing what it takes to create a learner-centric environment. Applying these fundamentals helps to ensure that you will never be guilty of "death by PowerPoint". A training consultant adept with participation and practice techniques is skilled at promoting discussion through the use of open-ended questions, referring questions back to participants, taking steps to actively involve learners in the process and providing ample opportunities to practice the skills associated with each learning objective.
Professionalism as a training consultant or facilitator may seem like common sense; however it's always a good idea to remind yourself of several of the ways an excellent training consultant demonstrates professionalism. Responding to questions and comments from participants non-defensively using appropriate, non-inflammatory language and being accessible to participants are all part of maintaining professionalism. Treat participants as adults with respect and never share derogatory comments about the organization. With all this said, displaying a sense of humor and having fun are not at all inconsistent with professionalism. In fact, appropriate humor and levity can greatly enhance the learning environment.
Remind participants that you will be available after the training for follow-up to answer questions, provide clarifications and offer support. Depending on the engagement, it may be appropriate for you to follow up with the participants to gauge their progress.
Keeping these 6 P's in mind may seem like a "no-brainer" but it never hurts to revisit these basic fundamentals. After all, airline pilots methodically walk through their standard pre-flight checklists before every single flight - and as passengers, we are all grateful for their discipline.