Tag Archive: Training


The Calgary Stampede is on my bucket list.  Just like having a successful training event, planning a visit to the Stampede will be quite a lot of work. But I may have only ONE opportunity and I better make that opportunity count.

Part of the reason I think it will be difficult to plan a trip worthy of being on my bucket list, is that the Canadian news is flooded with speculation and footage of the Royal Couple’s trip to Canada. Part of that trip is attending the Calgary Stampede (which is the fourth most popular Canadian event.)  Speculation has it that the Royal presence is expected to increase attendance to the Calgary Stampede. You know what that means: when I go to book anything it will be that much more difficult.

PROPER PHYSICAL PLANNING

I was amazed at the number of articles and ‘planners’ and ‘trip advisors’ that existed for the Calgary Stampede.

That is, I was amazed until I spoke with my friend Penny. She took her boys to the Stampede a few years back and insisted that they ‘do it right’. Her rationale was this opportunity doesn’t come around every day. Penny’s advice was to start researching events, planning (and booking) AT LEAST A YEAR in advance. [Note to self: I guess 2013 is now the earliest we’d be going to the Stampede.]

If you want ‘prime time’ you always have to book in advance and that includes seminars, webinars and events. While last minute bookings do come up, you need to give your audience some notice (and notification).

INTERVIEWING/WORD OF MOUTH

Penny also suggested the best way to start your Stampede experience was with a real Chuck Wagon breakfast before you watch the Opening Parade.  I never would have thought of that, but what a great idea to get into the mood and start the day off right. (And don’t forget to get tickets for the Chuck Wagon Races!)

I have written about instructional design before. You need to talk to your potential audience what are their challenges (so you can address them) AND you should talk to subject matter experts to get their perspective on the challenges and solutions. (I can’t stress this enough if you are a small or medium business. You should look to the 80/20 Rule: for the 20% of the content with 80% of the impact.)

MAKE SURE YOU FIT IN WITH THE “CULTURE”

Another consideration is fitting in. Penny suggests (/insists) that you should be ‘outfitted’ for the Stampede. While some articles suggest assembling quite a lot of ‘cowboy attire’,  Penny’s ‘shortlist’ includes the following: cowboy hat, proper cowboy shirt, jeans and of course, the requisite cowboy boots. I WAS SHOCKED, simply shocked. Why would I buy cowboy boots when my youngest’s feet were still growing??

But think about it. If you were invited to a themed party, didn’t you have more fun when you dressed up and really ‘got into it’?

The training world has similarities. We try to reach our audience and ‘fit’ their culture by speaking ‘their’ language and using examples that fit ‘their world’.  I’ve written posts that stress the importance of being audience oriented. Dressing the part can be part of this: make sure you fit in and make your audience feel comfortable. (Don’t wear a suit to a casual hands-on cooking seminar.)

MY SHORT LIST OF LESSONS LEARNED

Here’s a quick ’roundup’ of the some training lessons learned from planning/booking a trip to the Calgary Stampede:

  1. Research: including TALKING TO LOTS OF PEOPLE.
  2. PLAN/Book in Advance: to avoid disappointment and coordinate calendars (yours and your audiences).
  3. Try to put your audience first and fit in with their culture, use their language and relate to their world.

Don’t expect to ‘wing it’ or you may fall off your ‘high horse’: You need proper planning and preparation.

Now I’m not expecting you to ‘dress in character’ for your session, seminar or webinar… but does anyone have a pair of size 9 or 10 Cowboy boots available??

Until next time: “Ride ’em Cowboy!”

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Image courtesy of Sue Ratcliffe. Sue’s work can be seen and purchased on her RedBubble Page.

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My encounter with poison ivy during a hike on the Bruce Trail illustrated how different people learn differently. Teachers, Trainers, Instructors and Educators call this one’s  ‘learning style’.

A learning style describes your preferred method of learning. Typically  those styles are: auditory (learning by hearing), visual (learning by seeing) or tactile (learning by doing).

Now, possibly you’ve all heard the poison ivy warning:  “Leaves of Three, let it be.” But what exactly does poison ivy look like? There are plenty of three leaved plants in the forest.

During my hike, I ran across a NEW sign on the Bruce Trail that described poison ivy: three leaves, shiny leaves, red stem, little yellow berries at some times during the year and other times of the year the plant is just a stick. [NOTE TO SELF: careful hiking in the early spring and late fall->watch out for ‘sticks’. ]

I think there was some sort of a picture. But I wasn’t about to climb through all the green bushes to get closer to really examine the picture.

Wild StrawberriesI continued on my hike: “Leaves of three, Leaves of three…” Until I saw some plants with leaves of three. (See picture to the right.) “ls that poison ivy?” I asked myself.

“Hmm… Reddish stem, three leaves…” But I thought the flower looked a bit like a strawberry blossom. Perhaps this plant was a wild strawberry?

And then I saw a massive patch of three leaved plants. The leaves were so shiny! It was the ‘shiny’ adjective that nailed it for me. So I took the picture at the start of this article to bring home to show to my Boy Scouts (since they have never pointed out poison ivy to me).

So when you are designing your training, try to appease each of the learning styles: auditory, visual and tactile. Slides (with text) and lecture to appeal to the auditory types while pictures, charts and diagrams to appeal to the visual types. Including discussions, exercises and experiments will appeal to the tactile learners.

Now, if you are teaching a lesson on poison ivy, avoid the tactile ‘hands-on’ approach. 😉

Until next time (stay on the trail)…

Do you know what poison ivy looks like? Which learning style helped you learn? Please share your story with us.

PS-I have searched for articles and descriptions of poison ivy and have been disappointed until I found this great post/collection of pointers to content on poison ivy.

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Poison Ivy iPhone picture by Anne Cauley.

Wild Strawberries Flickr Creative Commons Image by Lewis Brown aka ‘Wiselark’.

This humourous video captures the last, (important), ‘painting lesson’ that can be applied to the world of teaching/training.

Well, that is it for painting for awhile. The paint roller incident was completely unstaged! But once it happened I knew I had to keep the camera rolling and finish the ‘take’.

How did you like this video series? Should I continue to shoot video or just stick to writing? Let me know…

Until next time…

There are many lessons that you can learn while painting that can be applied to the world of teaching/training. This lesson was very hard for me to admit.

Have YOU learned any lessons from painting that YOU have applied to the teaching/training world? I’m curious, please leave me a note below.

Until next time…

Just when I thought I had explored all the similarities between painting and training to the fullest, a shower of paint rained down upon me. All covered in paint (head to toe), here are some of my thoughts about some lessons learned from painting that can be applied to the teaching/training world.


Are you curious about the other two things, this experienced painter forgot? Why not subscribe to this blog so you don't miss the rest of this lighthearted series examining lessons learned from painting? You can either 'catch' the RSS feed or get an e-mail subscription: just look on the right hand side of the page.

Until next time...

False Advertising, Exaggerations, Omissions and Little White Lies

ARE STILL:

Lies!

The strong, direct nature of graffiti helps tell a story. In this case, someone believed that the fifty cent paper they purchased contained lies. So, they vandalized the paper box with graffiti to let their displeasure be known.

The IMPACT OF Not-as-Advertised

Still, it just goes to show you if you disappoint someone, chances are they will try to tell a bunch of people. The statistics we used to use were that dissatisfied customers will tell at least 10 people. Now, I would hazard to guess, they’d verbally tell a few of their friends and then they’ll use social media which potentially could reach tens of thousands of people. (How to handle a dissatisfied attendee/student is a discussion for another day…)

While I may not tweet how upset I am after a speaker wastes my time (and doesn’t deliver on his/her promises), it is still a pet peeve of mine. I have seen cases where the marketing copy and the content are light-years apart. Probably because someone drafted the description before they developed their material and no one thought to update the advertising. While that is an explanation, it is not an excuse.

I’m not alone. Others have complained that a TOP WEBINAR MISTAKE is not delivering as advertised. If you advertise a “live” event, you should not broadcast a recorded session.  If you advertise that you are 100% content, then don’t give a 60 minute product or services pitch.

Here is the catch: Once you lose an attendee, (because you are ‘not-as-advertised’),  you’ve just been branded ‘not-as-advertised’. You’ll lose that attendee for a LONG time before they’ll ever give you a second chance (if ever).

WHY AIM TO BE As-Advertised?

Bad news travels, but so does good news. This blog post from Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management discusses how word of mouth converts sales at 78%. So, if the attendees to your sessions are happy, the chances are that they are going to tell their friends (and you’ll reap the benefits).

GUIDELINES TO ENSURE ACCURATE ADVERTISING

Now to be fair, there are plenty of subject matter experts who really know and show (or share) ‘their stuff’ via seminars or webinars. However, these folks may have never been formally trained to pull together a description for a session (let alone how to design and deliver an effective session). [That is where this blog fits: trying to help those new to teaching and training.]

In order to set expectations for a session, here are my advertising rules or guidelines (without getting too detailed or technical with instructional design ‘speak’ or instructions):

1. Name your session wisely and accurately especially when targeting beginners (use  ‘Introductory’, ‘101’, ‘for Beginners’, etc.) or experts (use ‘Top Gun’, ‘Masters Training’, ‘For Experts Only’, etc.).

2. Define WHO your audience is.

  • Who they are: professionals, students, volunteers? Do they have a certain skill level (be as specific as possible)? You don’t want to have to define common acronyms that someone in the industry would know.
  • What are the prerequisites? Specify if this is an ideal follow-on session after having attended another session.
  • Is your session aimed at those with certain interests or problems?

3. TELL them WHY they should attend. You don’t have to go into the detail that someone trained in instructional design would by formally outlining the purpose and objectives. Instead, tell them what are you going to help them achieve? Outline what knowledge, skill, insight will they have at the end of your session. OR what questions will be answered at the end of the session. If you can outline how that will benefit them that is ideal; however, be careful, if using  metrics! Will you really deliver on making them five times as productive as they are today?

4. Optionally, include HOW you are going to accomplish your promise. Give your audience an idea of what to expect: lecture, demonstration, group discussion or moderated panel. Including an agenda or rough outline will help, just keep it very high-level as you may change it before you deliver the session.

ALWAYS TEST

Once you have written your advertisement your your session and delivered the content, it is always wise to test your promises. Did you deliver as promised? Did you deliver a session with great value, but your marketing copy failed? OR did your content fall short? You need to understand if you need to adjust your advertising, content or both advertising and content.

Once you get all that great feedback, you can feature it in your marketing copy. [For more information on what feedback questions to ask, you can click on the Strategic Feedback System on the right hand side of this page.]

Whether free or fee: try to be clear and concise in defining what you will deliver and to whom. Don’t tell any lies, not even the little white ones.

Until next time…

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Flickr Creative Commons Image by LauraFries.com

Mike Holmes ‘gets it’: he understands how to ensure his protégés learn. He does this by employing a technique his Dad used.

Larry King also knows the secret to stand out from the crowd.

It is so simple and easy, but (speaking from experience) it can be so difficult.

And you don’t need to be a superstar to get it right.

Let me explain…

THE THREE-YEAR-OLD APPROACH

When asked what the most important question was, Larry King answered:

“’Why?’ is the greatest question because you can’t answer it in one word, and it forces the other person to think.”

Toddlers use the ‘why’ question all the time. They are curious and trying to learn about the world around them according to a study done at the University of Hawaii. Your answers to their ‘why’ questions are filling in the gaps in their knowledge and helping them see a ‘bigger picture’.

INSTANT GRATIFICATION

Our curious toddlers then turn into demanding kids (and teens). Let’s face it, kids haven’t changed all the much over the years: they’ve always pushed for instant gratification. And parents always pushed back.

What has changed is that most people, (not just children), now expect instant gratification: they want the question answered, the goods delivered or the problem solved immediately. They don’t want to learn how to avoid the situation, navigate the challenge or reason out the answer. They don’t have time (or so they think).

The problem with this instant gratification approach is that it creates dependence. And in the long run it wastes much more time.

Our parents had a strategy to handle the quest for instant gratification AND we HATED it. They tried to train us to be self-sufficient by asking questions to make us think rather than just giving us the answer.

Great teachers, trainers and coaches use this same approach and ask questions such as, “what do you think?”  “why do you think that happens?” or “what would you do if this happened?”  Answers to these sorts of questions will fill in gaps in knowledge and will give your students a ‘bigger picture’.

GROWING UP

So what does that have to do with you, now that you are a professional? Well, if you are training or coaching, it makes it harder.

People pay you for your expertise, if you are a salesperson, consultant or a speaker. You are very passionate about your ‘craft’ and you love to give in-depth detailed explanations that prove you are an expert.

Here is the hard part: in order for your students to learn and be self-sufficient, you have to withhold the answers. Let your audience reason through alternatives and possibilities. Instead, show your expertise by leading your audience to the answer by giving them additional information or asking additional questions.

THE HOLMES TECHNIQUE: SHOW AND TELL

Many ‘masters’ have received their training at the hands of a very patient, intelligent trainer or mentor. One such person is Mike Holmes.

Mike’s father used the ‘Show and Tell’ technique. But it probably is not what you think.

His father SHOWed him how to do something. Then he’d ask Mike to ‘TELL’, by asking him “Why: Why am I doing it this way?”

After a demonstration or explanation, what a great technique to ask questions of the audience to make them think.

If you are training people, before you let them go ‘hands-on’, ask some questions. Start with the ‘why’ question and follow up with some ‘what if’ questions. And ALWAYS be prepared to deflect the question to another person or bail out the audience if they don’t have the confidence to offer an answer.

SUPERSTAR APPROACHES

You too could be a superstar, just like Mike or Larry.

Enhance your training approach by withholding the answers and by questioning your audience:

  • Challenge your audience with an unexpected ‘why’ question.
  • Rebound a question to gather more information and expose a participant’s thinking with a question such as ‘why do you ask?’
  • Emphasize an answer from your audience with a question similar to ‘why is that answer so important?’

Like the Chinese proverb says,

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for lifetime.”

DISCLAIMERS & CAVEATS

Of course, I have to caution you: if someone asks you a question and there is an imminent safety risk or it is a contentious topic, then use common sense and consider just answering the question.

WHY SHOULD YOU THINK LIKE THAT? Perhaps you could tell me? 😉

Until next time…

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If you are not familiar with Mike Holmes, he is a builder, renovator and a celebrity HGTV host and who has received recent pop-icon status. He uses his notoriety to help educate (and help) homeowners. (Not to mention he has set up the Holmes Foundation a charitable foundation that promotes and supports the training of youth in the skilled trades.) You would probably recognize Mike or his trade marked phrase:  “Make it Right”. Please click here for more on Mike Holmes.

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Postal Why Poster — Flickr Creative Commons Image by *USB*

Mike Holmes — Flickr Creative Commons Image by John Bollwitt posted by Rebecca Bollwitt 

The training regime and race routines for Alpine ski racers offer many lessons for those who are in the teaching or training professions. To be a legendary skier or a trainer/instructor takes more than just skill.

NEVER HURRY AN INSPECTION

For Slalom (SL) and Giant Slalom (GS) ski racers there are no practice runs, yet they never ski a course ‘blind’: they always have a ‘course inspection’ prior to racing the course.

Why? Every course is different: terrain, snow, gate placement. All these aspects impact HOW you are going to ski the course.

So, before the race, the racers (side) ‘slip’ the course to examine each gate and plan their strategy on how to ski the course:  how early do they initiate a turn, when do they tuck, etc.  This article regarding the 2010 Vancouver Olympics echos the importance of a course inspection.

This is similar to good practices many trainers have. When developing or customizing content for a particular audience in a particular industry, most trainers plan ahead and many will do a ‘walk through’ to see if the new content, exercises and technology ‘works’.

When I was getting certified as an instructor, our practice was to teach in front of your peers before you were allowed to teach live in front of a class. At first, I thought these dry runs were a ‘piece of cake’; until Alan backed me into a corner and got very aggressive. (All I could think of was, “Why is he doing this to me? Did he wake up on the wrong side of the bed? What did I do to him???”) As we were dealing with some culture change, Alan thought I was ready to experience a difficult class, so he ‘threw’ at me some of the best objections, complaints, unreasonableness that he had ever witnessed. (That was one of the longest hours of my life!)

I was more critical of my performance than he was. In fact, I came out unscathed. In the end, teaching a difficult ‘practice’ class gave me the confidence to get through a real ‘live’ difficult class.

SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO RESET

Recently, the result of the inspection of a GS ski race was a full re-set of the course (and re-inspection). The GS course was NOT set to specification (i.e. standard). The gates were too close together for a GS Race: instead they were set like a SL Race.

Why the big deal? Well, all the athletes trained on GS courses (set to specification) using their longer GS skis. So, had the race taken place it would have been unfair to the participants and it would have been dangerous because the racers were on longer skis on a course set for shorter skis. It would have been like sailing a LARGE sailboat through a course meant for smaller sailboats: turning would be difficult AND it could get dangerous.

Now, there was some reluctance from some of the racers and coaches who just wanted to ‘get on with it’. But the course was reset and re-inspected. The race took longer than originally anticipated, but everyone had fun AND there were no injuries.

If you’ve ever witnessed an instructor spiraling out of control, you will know exactly what I mean and WHY it is important.

While you are instructing or training, remember that story. If something is going wrong or not set up properly, don’t be afraid to abort what you were doing and take a ‘time out’ to reset your training plan, materials and technology.

Sure, it takes guts to do a full ‘re-set’, but sometimes it is the right decision. If something isn’t working, or was improperly set up, you’ll win more admiration by doing a full reset, taking a break and going to Plan B.

LOOK AHEAD

Even novice ski racers are always taught to look two gates ahead  (vs looking at their skis). The rationale is NOT to focus on snow that is underneath your skis, but to look ahead. This way you are more prepared for what is coming and you can concentrate on initiating your turn early so you get a ‘good line’ through the course. (For those of you who are not skiers, or don’t follow ski racing, turning late will result in the racer dumping speed, potentially being thrown into deep ruts or missing the next gate. Turning late is a very unpleasant and hair raising adventure, speaking from my novice experience in an adult ‘fun’ Race league.)

Isn’t that similar in some ways to the rule for driving a car on ice? You are supposed to look in the direction you want to go NOT in the direction you are going (i.e. into a ditch).

The same is true for teaching/training. You shouldn’t get so absorbed in the moment that you are off track for your next segment. You want a smooth class. Thinking ahead will help you set up your transitions between thoughts or topics.

RESULTS

At the end of the day, remember what was important:

  • Having a smooth and efficient class requires some upfront inspection of the circumstance and walk through of material and technology,
  • Avoiding the point of no return may take some nerve: don’t be afraid to take a ‘timeout’  for a a full reset,
  • Staying on track demands executing with the knowledge of your overall plan: aim to position yourself where you have to be for the next segment.

Think about skiing… And enjoy the snow while it lasts… Until next time…

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Photo image included with permission from Gord Palin.

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

    GETTING STALE: USING THE SAME-OLD APPROACH

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.

THAT IS STRETCHING IT!

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.

BEWARE OF THE DEADLINE

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.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF YOUR TRAINING SESSION

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.

GETTING TO THE  ‘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…

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Flickr Creative Commons Image by B Rosen

Okay, I was at it again. YES, I did tackle the end (for now) of my painting spree. Then I remembered that I promised some additional insights on lessons I have learned from painting.

BEWARE OF THE ‘NO-BRAINER’

All I wanted to paint was a simple wall. ONE SIMPLE WALL! No furniture to move, no windows to avoid, no fancy curves or corners to navigate. JUST ONE SIMPLE WALL! And what happened?

I stepped on the paint lid with my good running shoes on… My red hair became Hillsborough Beige… And I did not take my own advice outlined in Painting Lessons Part 1 (i.e. I did not quit when I hit the ceiling). Now in fairness to me, I wasn’t tired; I was just getting started (but I did find that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser worked very well at getting paint off a textured stucco ceiling).

This project was supposed to be so straight forward. Why did I have all these set-backs?

Isn’t that like training though? Some of the most straightforward, ‘no-brainer’ subjects can be full of landmines.

So, watch out when you are assigned to teach something that should be second nature to you or that you could do in your sleep. There is NO SUCH THING as a ‘no-brainer’. Treat that task the same as you would any other teaching task with the proper preparation of materials and delivery. Don’t get complacent in your delivery.

Understand this: More than 50% of car accidents occur within 5 miles of home. Why? Some say there are more distractions, more complacency and that the driver’s minds switch-off because it is familiar territory.  Remember your job is to make it look like it was a ‘no-brainer’ and simplify and explain things so that they are a ‘no-brainer’ for your attendees.

DON’T GET CORNERED

You may think that it is a ‘no-brainer’ to avoid ‘painting yourself into a corner’.  Okay, I didn’t really paint myself into a corner… but in my previous painting spree I was behind the dryer where I painted the wrong wall first. So, I kinda got covered in paint: ALL covered in paint.  (That is why you wear painting clothes!)

So plan out how you are going to attack your painting AND your teaching/training…

When I was working on my certification as an instructor I had to teach in front of my peers before I was allowed to ‘go live’ in front of a real class. I was well on my way into my certification and one of my peers, who I’ve mentioned in previous posts, decided to ‘test’ me. He ‘lead me’ into a corner (unfairly I should tell you). And then nailed me and yelled, “You just contradicted all the other guys. This stuff is ****!” Oh, no: what was I to do?

When it came to the review of my ‘dry run’, I passed with flying colours. (I was surprized: I was ready to be crucified!)

My advice to you, is if you ‘paint yourself into a corner’: apologize, think quick, remain calm and stay rational. If someone is going to be a jerk… let them. You will ‘win’ more points with your audience than you can possibly imagine.

INHERITING A MESS

If you want to know how well your house is built, then do your own painting. Yes, by ‘getting up close and personal’  you will find all the nicks,  scrapes and deficiencies. The last time I painted, I had to patch the wall underneath a window with a whole cup of putty! Whoever cut the drywall needed another cup of coffee or needed to be reminded of the ‘measure twice, cut once’ principle.

So what does that have to do with teaching/training? Sometimes you inherit something that is not ideal: that could be material or if you are team teaching the instructor before you may have left you with a mess. Assess the situation, figure out what you can salvage and get creative in fixing it. (Before you team teach, consult the page I’ve developed on how to work together as a Teaching Team.)

REUSABLE TRICKS

I have a few painters tricks… if you need to step away from your painting for lunch or overnight, rather than cleaning your brushes, wrap them in saran wrap (aka cling film).  Yes, you can re-use your brush and avoid the messy cleanup. (I have reused my saran wrapped paint brushes two weeks after they were wrapped.) Rumor has it that if you toss your saran wrapped brushes in the freezer, that you can reuse your brushes in a month.  Let me know if you try this and whether or not it works…

Just like painting, I have plenty of teaching ‘tricks’… but what I want to emphasize is thinking/working smart. Think about how you can structure a module (or a workshop) so that you can re-use some of the material.  There are lots of things you can re-use: an opening exercise, a joke, an analogy and sometimes even generic content. If you think about how you can re-use content, your development and prep time will decrease and the quality of your delivery should increase.

PRACTICE BEING PRACTICAL

I would agree that all this advice is very practical and ‘no-brainers’; however, we need to remind ourselves of things we should do and traps to avoid before all of this becomes second nature. We should try to re-use (and improve) existing material. When cornered we need to remain calm and rational. AND we must never get complacent, for if we do, we should be looking for a new job.

If you missed the first in this series, check out Painting Lessons: What Trainers can Re-Learn from Domestic Chores.

I’m going to put away my paint brushes for awhile… I need to build a few shelves (or at least get some shelves built)… Until next time…

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Flickr Creative Commons Image by massdistraction