Even experienced trainers make mistakes. But face it, you can’t afford to blow it in front of a group of paying customers.


I have talked about some of my painting techniques in previous posts. Yes, I know a few of them are ‘off the wall’ (so to speak). BUT at sometime I tried these techniques and as odd as they sound, I found that they work.

When I was taking my CSIA certification, Mark, a fellow skier, suggested to Jane, our trainer, that he had a great time saving technique for painting woodwork. (And if you’ve ever painted woodwork, you know how difficult and time consuming it can be.) His secret tool was to use a small 3 inch sponge roller rather than a paint brush AND if possible, his secret technique was to paint the woodwork before you install it. I couldn’t wait to try Mark’s approach… and when I did, I was so surprized at how easy painting the woodwork had become.

This goes to show you that you never know when or where you may get helpful hints and tips. You may even pick up some tips on developing or delivering training in the supermarket… AND if you do, don’t be afraid to try something new.


While Mark’s approach to woodwork may have been a ‘no brain-er’ to try, other tools and techniques may just seem odd. It is best to try them out in the privacy of your home/in front of colleagues before you try them ‘live’ in front of paying customers (i.e. your students).

Consider the risk. That is why I always say: “Don’t reach, don’t stretch.” If you are not ready to facilitate a discussion on a new topic, then don’t do it.

Just like I learned my lesson long ago about painting without a drop sheet over carpet: practice before you ‘go live’, always have a safety net and think of what can happen if something goes wrong. What if your students are quiet and don’t ask questions? What if the online demo doesn’t work? What if the students can’t relate to your examples/illustrations?

That may sound a bit like motherhood, but this next tip may be less obvious.


I was having friends over and wanted to finish up all my painting beforehand. (I should have known better after the ‘BBQ incident’ years ago.) I wasn’t nervous or out of time, I guess I was subconsciously rushed or perhaps it was not a good day to paint.

Lots of things went wrong as I outlined in: Painting Lessons (Part 2) .  All these mistakes impacted my end ‘product’ and caused me a lot of work to remedy.

Subconscious stress can impact your teaching/training. On a multi-day session, sometimes your attendees may want to finish early to start the drive home OR you may put pressure on yourself to catch an early flight.

My advice is: BEWARE!

If you are teaching a multi-day course you have plenty of options (these options are not mutually exclusive):

  • Adjust the length of the days leading up to the last day so you can cover additional material each day,
  • Cover extra material the day before,
  • OR start earlier on the last day.

Whatever you do, don’t forgo or cut short the Summary.


You need a good Introduction and a great Summary. The intro sets the stage, provides context and should motivate your students to listen. The Summary, in my opinion, is typically overlooked and hurried — AND that is a HUGE MISTAKE.

Just like the finishing touches can make or break a domestic project, the wrap-up can impact your training session. When you review that objectives (what the attendees were supposed to learn) and you give a high level overview of what they learned and draw something visual to put their learning in context, then some of your attendees piece together lots of thoughts and can have an ‘ah ha’ moment.

As a trainer, you’ll get a tremendous amount of satisfaction in getting your students to this ‘ah ha’ moment.


So, remember to get your students to the ‘AH HA’ moment, by:

  • Keeping it fresh by trying new approaches (tools, techniques, etc),
  • Never ‘stretching’ to try something you are not prepared for (hence avoiding disasters),
  • Thoughtfully thinking out and taking the time to summarize to put all their learning in context

Please leave me a comment, if you want to hear more (even if it is about the ‘BBQ incident’).

Until next time…


Flickr Creative Commons Image by B Rosen