+44 (0)207 097 1426 david@davidoswald.net

Hi there, lockdown continues and so does this blog.

Another 7 days of lockdown done and another week of training and meetings delivered through a variety of online video meeting platforms. Stay professional folks, make sure you’re maintaining standards (I’m looking at you jogging pant shirt and tie combo guys).

Anyway I hope you’re staying safe and well and you’re adjusting to the new business as usual we’re in the middle of.

So today I want to talk about charm. I see so many interesting articles from great training professionals about the technical skills needed to deliver training. The adult learning principles we need to consider, the learning design frameworks etc. And all of these elements are crucial, don’t get me wrong. Trainers get paid a healthy salary for a reason. We’re skilled and qualified – humblebrag.

Acquiring these skills and knowledge takes time and money and they are essential if you are to be on top of your game. But charm is the one thing I rarely get to see in these online articles. However, charm shouldn’t be confused with being smarmy (you know who you are Terry!).

When dealing with face-to-face training, and especially online training nowadays, you as a person, and the way you conduct yourself is essential to a successful outcome with your training. You need to think about the mindset of your training delegates.

What might be on their mind? How might they be feeling? Feeling. That’s very important to your success.

People attend training sessions in a variety of states.

  • They may be nervous
  • They may be excited
  • They may be bored
  • They may have reservations about your product
  • They may be expecting to have an easy day off from their usual day-to-day work

Being aware of these states, and how that might impact your delivery is critical to gaining engagement with your training delegates.

It’s really important you “flavour to taste” your approach to make your delegates feel at ease and safe. As adults we hate to feel vulnerable, and the deployment of a new piece of software to a business is going to mean employees will have to cope with the resulting change.

Now I don’t know about you but my primary reason for working is so I can fund my lifestyle (Club Tropicana all the way). I work to pay the bills, but I’m really lucky in that I enjoy what I do for a living. But as soon as we experience change in our working life this can have a negative impact on our state of mind.

We might be worrying that we won’t be able to use the software and we’ll get let go. We might be worried that the software is going to radically impact our working day (people that see this positively are quite rare), we might be worrying that the new software is going to lead to redundancies in our teams.

All of these worries are valid, and as trainers we need to be aware that our delegates will have some of these concerns which may impact their behaviour and impact on our sessions.

It is possible to strip these worries back to a certain extent. And this is where, as a trainer, I find it useful to show my human side. To be interested in my delegates. Treat the introductions as a chance to exchange in some pleasant small talk. Start the engagement with your delegates BEFORE you start your training session. Don’t be a training machine. Be a training super human. Be authentic and sincere when talking with training delegates. Actually, be authentic and sincere full-stop.

Introductions are really valuable when they’re natural. Just as people buy from people, not machines, people connect with people, not scripted robots. I always introduce myself first and I always speak with my natural voice. I always start with how I’m feeling, what’s going on for me right now. I’m happy to show I’m human. I’m interested in how my delegates are right now. Genuinely interested!

And when someone introduces themselves, I am always interested in their response. If you can ask a follow up questions that feel natural when someone talks about themselves, they slowly start to drop the protective barriers they have erected around themselves. Don’t be afraid to spend some time on introductions. I have a very good friend that ended up married to a training delegate of hers. Though don’t go hitting on your delegates. Remember, it’s charm we’re looking for here, not cheesy chat up lines!

Remembering names, and relating some of your content to people on a personal level really helps delegates to open up and engage with you and your content.

If you have a delegate that’s a business analyst, you know that they are going to be interested in the technical data side of your content. So if you’re talking about the reporting capabilities of your product, you can refer to them at that point. “Okay Maxwell, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. It’s DATA TIME.” All BAs are called Maxwell, no?

Now, you have to operate within the boundaries that are acceptable in your industry, your company and the cultural norms of the delegates, but being human goes a long way.

Be yourself, be interesting and more importantly be interested.

Your delegates are your company’s customers. You can gain a great deal of honest insight and feedback from these off-the-cuff interactions that at first glance seem unimportant. Your delegates will be more honest with you if they trust you. And being human is a surefire way to getting your delegates to start being honest with you.

This raw customer feedback is really useful to your product teams. Knowing how a customer reacts to functionality and how it impacts them really helps with developing user personas and finessing your product. Developing realistic customer personas means your products are developed with the user in mind and you end up developing a much more well received product.

So, in conclusion, if you’re wanting to be a great product trainer the first skill you need to hone is that of being a nice and engaging person.

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