I am not trained as a trainer but the training opportunities find their ways to me, over the years, since I have started my humble career. It’s always a full circle, from one end to another, from another end to the same one I have started from. You strategize, you design a new business process, you put in place a piece of technology, you create a communication and marketing pack, and then you train. It is because ultimately it is human who is going to be trained on how to use that shinny new piece of technology to enable a new business process that is aligned to a strategy. That pretty much summarize what I do for a living.
Over the years, I have learned much on the art of training, from my peers, the people below and above me, and my audience. Over the years, I have trained a small classroom of people to a crowd that filled a hotel ballroom. I love to train. Especially those that have a dose of uncertainties like the breakout groups. Time and time again, people pull me aside and ask if I find talking about the same topic boring.
Not at all.
Each group is different. The rapport and the effort put in to build the rapport is different. Each group has its own challenge. And in as much as my objective is to impart knowledge, my personal goal is to learn from my audience, through group sharing, through the questions they ask, and through the observation on what works for them. I love the accumulation of war stories and confidence and success as I maneuver from one group to another.
One good friend of mine used to tell me that if we can feel the butterflies on our stomachs, it is a good sign. It shows that success matters. It keeps us on our toes. She told me that each of us has a personal ritual to go through prior to the conduct of the training. I have not shared mine with her. I used to pray in the toilet prior to showtime. Yes, I too used to feel the butterflies. It’s a feeling that can be unsettling. What if I couldn’t deliver the speech that has been written and rewritten a thousand times? What if I couldn’t connect to the audience? What if they see what I don’t know instead of what I do know? What if …
Though I dreaded the butterflies, thank God most of the sessions I came out OK (some with good recognition). These days, I am at that one end of the cycle again: It’s training time. What is different today from the past is that due to the duration and depth of this global initiative that I have been working on, I am very comfortable in conducting the training. And after all the local classroom training I helped to conduct, the next step is to reach out to the rest of the world.
Since I am not that keen to travel – love Singapore too much! – I am happy to conduct training over the Internet (we use WebEx just in case some of you may be able to relate). It is a whole new experience. At my laptop, I can see who have dialed in, I can punch in a telephone number inside the software and it will make the necessary call to the participants who can’t get connected, I can mute individual phone lines (you’ll be amazed at how many people accidentally put their phones on hold and all of a sudden, everyone logged in hear some music played), I can present a document, share an application, see the Q&A window gets populated, chat room that keeps the private and public messages popping. Wow … very funky!
Initial excitement aside, it can be hard. At times I feel like I was a DJ talking to myself. Imagine this: you are in a meeting room, alone, in front of you a laptop and a speaker phone. Everyone is on mute. And you keep talking, no faces to be seen, no responses to be heard, just you and your voice hoping that someone is awake on the other side of the telephone line. Do they like the pace? Can they understand me? Do they get my lighthearted comments? Are there VIPs in the call? No idea. Silence. Just me and my voice and the speaker phone. All the way from “Welcome to our today’s training session” to “Thank you for your time and you may disconnect now”, do people get fired for delivering a lousy training over the Internet?
At times I wish there were a few butterflies in my stomach, to get me in the mood with heightened alert. Sessions after sessions, I look forward to the online Q&A the most. Because that is the only variation I encounter. Oh gosh, wouldn’t that become really … boring?
Well, you know me, I can’t stand boredom. So, each web training I conduct, I always tried to crack a totally different set of jokes (like instead of meeting Bill Gate for lunch, for the same scenario, I golf with Steve Jobs … and then, I drop this scenario altogether and crack another joke on a different situation), share a different set of stories, deliver the same message in a slightly different way, rearrange things just a little bit – do something that keep my sanity.
I am not trained as a trainer but I love to train. And no, I am not a full time trainer. I just step into a role available while having another role to play.