Training Delivery

by Terry Wilkinson

Controlling nerves

Tip

These techniques can work as stand-alone interventions or you may need to use a combination of several. The main thing is that you find a way that suits YOU!

It’s not only inexperienced trainers that feel nervous before a session; many of us still do after many years. This may be a good thing: when faced with a challenging situation, our system produces adrenaline, which provides the extra energy we need to perform. Remember – a racehorse needs adrenaline to win the race. So it’s not really a matter of getting rid of our nerves, but of learning how to harness them. Here are some handy tips to help you.

Change your focus

Nerves will get worse when you think of yourself as being in the spotlight and focus on what could go wrong, especially if you drag yourself down with negative self talk. For example:

  • I’m not good enough...
  • What if they ask an awkward question?
  • I don’t know enough.
Tip

Focus on the moment after you have successfully finished the training and the last delegate has left. Imagine it turning out well, with everyone leaving happy.

The more you focus on your nerves, the more adrenaline starts flowing and the more nervous you will feel.

So STOP... and do something different with your focus and your thoughts. They are your thoughts aren’t they?

Focus instead on something more empowering, on your delegates, on their learning or on how to make the training valuable for them.

Prepare

One of the best ways to feel in control is to feel confident that you are thoroughly prepared.

Tips

  • Take time to prepare your notes.
  • Know what you are trying to achieve.
  • Find out about your delegates.
  • Anticipate questions.
  • Know your facts.
  • Test your equipment.
  • Take time to set up the room.

Practice

Effective presenters and trainers develop their skills through practice.

Tips

  • Practise speaking in front of the mirror.
  • Practise on friends, family, the cat or anyone who will sit and listen.
  • Videotape yourself and watch it.
  • Grasp every opportunity to speak – think of them as chances to hone your skills.

Practise in the room in which the training will take place so it becomes familiar to you. You will then know things such as how many steps there are across the front of the room.

Practise setting that complicated light control system, or using the inbuilt projection equipment or anything else you might need.

Release tension before you start

Use your nervous energy before you start speaking.

Tips

  • Physical exercise the morning or day before your training session can help vent nervous energy.
  • Breathe deeply: take a deep breath, hold it for several seconds and then exhale slowly. Repeat this several times.
  • Press the palms of your hands together forcefully for a few seconds; release, and repeat several times.
  • Stretch your neck, rolling your head slowly in a circle to relax your vocal chords.

Pre-prepare and use an anchor

Tip

You may wish to include confidence, flexibility and energy in your anchor.

Many experienced trainers and presenters have an anchor, which they use just before performing to help them access an optimum personal state. Use an Anchoring technique such as Circle of excellence to prepare your own anchor for when you might need it.

Meet and greet the delegates

Experienced trainers meet their delegates as they arrive, shake hands and have an informal chat.

Why? The delegates become friendly faces, rapport is already established AND it helps us feel less nervous! Try it!

Maintain control when you speak

Tips

  • Your mouth gets dry?

Keep a glass of water next to you.

  • You forget your next point?

Remain composed. Check your notes; you may even say ‘let me just check my notes to see what we are doing next.’

  • Your face goes red

Remember you get what you focus on, so focus on planting your feet squarely instead, keeping an even weight on each foot.

  • Your hands shake?

Keep gestures slow and controlled. Try making a fist and then relaxing your hand several times. Use a clipboard if you are holding paper – your hands will shake less when holding something sturdy.

Mentally prepare yourself

Tip

Try ten minutes’ meditation, deep breathing exercises or just a last minute run through. Give yourself a chance to succeed!

Some people can arrive seconds before the training starts, cope with equipment that’s not set up and have no notes or planning at all.

Most can’t! Give yourself the time to feel organised and then some extra time to mentally get into gear.

Get advice from a fly

A useful exercise is to think about the event from different perspectives.

Exercise

You already have an idea of what it will be like standing at the front of the room.

Now imagine what it would be like to be either the audience as a whole or one of the delegates. Chances are, they see you, the trainer, as an expert and are interested in what you have to say. They are here to learn, not to catch you out in a mistake.

Next, imagine what a fly on the wall would see. The fly would see an interaction between a trainer and a group of delegates. If the fly could give some advice, what advice would the fly give to the trainer?

Now take heed of that advice and again imagine yourself as the trainer. Notice how the dynamics are different.

Continue cycling around these three perceptual positions a few more times to get more ‘advice’ from the fly.

You could also read the page on Building confidence in the Presentations topic.