Now That You are a Trainer. . .

Guest Author: Rayford Barner, Ed.D. Roosevelt University MATD Alumni

Guest Author: Rayford Barner, Ed.D.
Roosevelt University MATD Alumni

Now that you are a trainer, what must you do to ensure that your presentation is flawless? That is, how can you fully engage your audience with the content? They should not realize how much preparation went into ensuring flawless delivery. There are no perfect presentations, but well-prepared trainers do exercise due diligence in their approach to training others. This brief discussion focuses on things that you can do as a new or highly experienced instructor, teacher or trainer that, regardless of content, can help ensure excellent presentations. But remember, this topic is centered on adult learning and theory. Adult learning can be formal college education, job-related training, community education, or self-improvement classes (Kearsley, 2010). In fact, the theory of andragogy explains to a certain extent how learning for adults differs from the way children learn. Adults are motivated to learn, self-directed, responsible, and inclined to use prior experiences as a template for learning (Knowles, 1984).

Some Preparatory Considerations

Before you begin your presentation, you should consider several factors that can make training efforts more enjoyable. Do not assume anything with regard site, equipment and materials. Here are some things to consider before your presentation:

  1. Arrive at the training site early. If possible, arrive the day before to view the venue and make adjustments to equipment and materials or other training impediments.
  2. Verify computer software versions of Microsoft™ program or other computer or web-based program.
  3. Ensure audio and video function properly.
  4. Set up your training site to meeting the desired seating arrangement.
  5. Check and verify stock of all course material and supplies.
  6. Greet attendees to your presentation. Be upbeat and project a positive attitude.

Some Presenter Behaviors

Now that you have looked at some preparatory considerations, focus on your presenter behavior. I have compiled a list of tips that can assist you in developing good practices:

  1. Speak clearly, logically and directly to your audience.
  2. Lecture less whenever possible and facilitate often. (No one cares about how big you think your brain is!)
  3. Make the take-home message or theme of the presentation persistent. Try to make relevant connections to the course material whenever possible.
  4. Use the classroom as a stage and the room a theater.
  5. Whenever possible, practice and time the delivery of your material. Try to anticipate questions about certain aspects of the topic presented and consider including the time it may take to answer them.
  6. Assuming you created your presentation using Microsoft PowerPoint™ or Prezi™, use appropriate visuals sparingly but efficiently.
  7. Whenever possible, address participants by the first name. This helps personalize interactions between you and
  8. Always demonstrate respect and courtesy to all attendees, even the challenging
  9. Know and command the topic that you are teaching, including familiar objections
  10. Keep the presentation on topic. Avoid the side streets: discussions not connected to the take-home message or theme.

Ensuring flawless presentations is a matter of preparation and good behaviors. Regardless of your experience as an instructor, teacher, or trainer, the aforementioned tips can help ensure your audience is engaged in the purpose of the training. Make them practices to help improve your ability to do great presentations. Good luck!

Questions:

  1. Do you have other suggestions or advice for making presentations flawless?
  2. What challenges do you experience when you present? How do you deal with them?

References

Bourne, P. E. (2007). Ten Simple Rules for Making Good Oral Presentations. PLoS Computational Biology, 3(4), 593-594.

Kearsley, G. (2010). Andragogy (M.Knowles). The theory into practice database. Retrieved from http://tip.psychology.org.

Knowles, M. (1984). The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species (3rd Ed.). Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing.

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10 comments

  • Excellent post! I agree 100% with everything that you have listed. As a future trainer with a master’s degree in theatre, I am sensitive to the performance style of presenters, and the tips you provide are an excellent start. As much as possible, I would say practice like you want to perform – set the conditions, if possible get into the room and see what the lighting and acoustics are, warm up your voice – even if it’s just in the car on the way to the presentation, and take a few deep breaths or stretch a bit before you start. One other thing that always bugs me is people who don’t seem to know what is coming next on their slides or who seem to have to refer to their notes or slides too frequently. You don’t have to be a know-it-all (or show people how big your brain is! – haha!), but you should be able to present with an air of confidence. Again, great post. Thanks for sharing!

  • I have always had butterflies when doing a presentation. One thing I notice is that people like to talk when you start the conversation rolling lol I usually put people in groups and have them battle against each group for knowledge of material and I notice this makes it competitive and fun.

    • Hi Tanya, thank you for your post. Facilitation is a good way to definitely get your learners involved and take the pressure off of you by not having to lecturing (80/20 rule).

  • Jen! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this post. To address your last question, I think coaching/training for facilitators depends greatly on the profession. Is coaching others a part of the organizational culture or done as needed or neither? Is the individual motivated to seek coaching on their own or with someone outside the organization to develop the sustainable skills? There are many companies that provide coaching services to support the needs of new or seasoned trainer. Check out a few by searching in Google!

  • I definitely appreciated the points offered here. It’s important to ensure training presentations are quality and I think a lot of what was shared in this blog speaks to what one can do to enhance and maintain a successful training delivery.

    I would add that finding ways to seek an immediate and post-training evaluation moment is essential to improving the work. Taking the time to reflect, while using all parties involved in the training presentation process is important. Providing attendees with a feedback form is one immediate approach one could take for results. Also, if possible, the facilitator could invite a colleague to sit in on the training and take notes so that a formal evaluation of the presentation can take place at a later date.

    Some challenges I have experienced with trainings is the need to answer all the questions thrown at me from participants. At times it’s hard for me to deny attendees the right to ask questions in the moment because I feel the training is built to their benefit. Over time I have come to know that there are ways to support them with any questions they may have by using things like the “bike rack method.” It allows for presenters to hold off on certain questions until the time to remain conscious of time. It’s also helpful to extend the course content and contact information of the trainer so that those who attend can ask future questions off line. It’s also a way to build a larger network.

    • Kevin! Thank you for sharing your thoughts to this post. You make valid points with regard to evaluation (formative/summative) and the need for participant feedback. I appreciate the comment about, ” the need to answer all questions thrown at me.” Are there other suggestions you can share for how you deal with this aspect of training?

  • The presenter behaviors seem to make things easier and more fun for the trainer, while gaining the audiences attention as a default. I especially like tip number 2, lecture less facilitate more. I think many presenters become so focused on seeming knowledgable that they can bore their audience. These tips are really helpful, they should make this a little pamphlet for new grads.

    • Morgan! Thank your for your suggestion to make a pamphlet for new grads. I will mention this to leadership for the Graduate Program in Training and Development.

  • Great and relevant article – thank you to our guest author! These are excellent tips that all facilitators should be aware of.

    I recently took a Presentations building course through work – an opportunity I was thrilled about. My department doesn’t often get offered training, nor do we usually have time for it. The course was a tremendous help, and my tip would be to find a way to take some sort of presentation style course, not just once, but periodically throughout your career. Coaching and feedback are truly necessary throughout career development. Think of Michael Jordan – while he was amazing, he still had a coach, still had other players on his team, people who could provide feedback on his performance and continue his growth. As facilitators, we still need that too!! While it’s great to have a routine, we can easily add in negative habits to our routine without even knowing it. It’s great to check in and focus on our own growth every once in a while.

    My biggest challenge when presenting is simply myself. I am my own worst enemy, second guessing my knowledge and abilities prior to, during, and even afterwards. I get very nervous and typically end up speaking too quietly and too quickly. I’ve learned to cope by focusing on those two elements as the pieces I need to work on. Instead of trying to focus on all of the ways I could be better, focusing on these two relaxes me a bit, and keeps me centered. The funny part about this challenge, is that I am also an actress by trade. Standing up in front of a large audience, acting as someone else, speaking someone else’s words – I thrive in that space vs. being myself!

    I’m curious what sort of continuing coaching/training is offered to facilitators in different fields.

    Thanks,
    Jen

    • Jen! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this post. To address your last question, I think coaching/training for facilitators depends greatly on the profession. Is coaching others a part of the organizational culture or done as needed or neither? Is the individual motivated to seek coaching on their own or with someone outside the organization to develop the sustainable skills? There are many companies that provide coaching services to support the needs of new or seasoned trainer. Check out a few by searching in Google!

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