I’m a bit of an attention whore. So when I was learning about training in school and first heard the phrase, ‘guide on the side, not sage on the stage’ I was a little disappointed. I wanted to have a career where I could be the centre of attention. Since I’m not musically gifted, I landed on training. The more I learned about the profession, the more I realized that it’s not about me. It wasn’t about me at all. When a training experience is learner centred, the trainer shouldn’t be up there, chatting away entertaining him or herself. It should be as focused on the learners experience, both in the past and in the classroom as possible.
But how much can we remove the trainers’ self from the learning experience?
While we need to share some of ourselves to engage and provide context, for some it becomes a slippery slope back to being the sage on the stage. As soon as the training becomes stories that are irrelevant to the content, you’ve sunk the ship. The issue is that amusing anecdotes become a crutch for unengaging content. Sessions can’t all be winners but we have to do, at the very least, our due diligence to make the lessons engaging.
How do you quickly spruce up unengaging material? Here’s a few ideas to try.
- Use a fill-in-the-blank sheet for content that’s important. Go over it at the beginning so that learners are looking for answers. Acronyms are good for this.
- If using slides, ask learners to read them on occasion. This gives you a break from talking and gives them a break from you.
- Get as much practice actually using a new skill as possible.
- Create a knowledge gap. Present a (relevant) mystery at the beginning of the session and be able to solve it with the new content.
I’m not saying that trainers aren’t important but I am saying that they are the ones who are there to learn. Get the learners to the centre of the lesson by removing yourself from the centre of attention.