Recently, a colleague asked me how I recognize a great or effective corporate trainer or learning facilitator. Let me share with you what I told her.
Learning facilitation is an art, and great trainers or learning facilitators are artists—that is, they do creative work. In fact, some of them seem to be naturally skilled and creative.
They are good at keeping their audience engaged and alive. They lead their sessions like a popular Broadway show. They are flexible and calculate every move. As a result, their training sessions generate lots of positive comments and thank you’s. That’s fantastic!
Maybe you’d love to emulate their facilitation style and success but don’t know how.
What If I told you developing excellent facilitation skills is not rocket science?
You might think, “Really?” No, it isn’t.
What I mean is it requires practice—lots of practice. But it’s feasible. Yes, you can become one of them. However, before you start working on your craft/skills you should take a look at what almost all great learning facilitators have in common.
Let’s dive in:
1. They are personable, approachable, and likable.
They are good at connecting with people on a personal level. They are flexible and down to earth. For example, they call participants by their names. They smile a lot. They empathize with participants and listen actively and carefully to what their participants have to say. On top of that, they value their audience’s contribution and intentionally seek context-based input.
2. They are organized.
Their agenda is clear and the flow of their presentations is smooth. They know which materials to introduce, when, and where to find it. Furthermore, their transitions are as natural as breathing.
3. They are proficient time managers.
They respect employees’ time. They are flexible, but at the same they control the flow of the event. No one steals the mics or monopolize the conversation and gets away with it. They keep their eyes on the goal and the clock. They instinctively know what to cut out, when to stop, and when let things go. In other words, they start and end on time.
4. They make content interesting, accessible, and easy to understand.
They break information into trunks. They plan and run their session like a story with a structure: a beginning, a middle and an end. They also know how to tell good stories to illustrate their points. They make participants laugh and keep them engaged in meaningful work and discussions.
5. They don’t go by the book.
Like I said before, they have an agenda, but their process is flexible. They change things on the go. For example, unlike novices, they improvise with confidence and class. One can barely separate the decisions that were planned from those that were not!
6. They can read their audience like a book.
They can quickly tell who wants and doesn’t want to be at their training. They know how to spot reluctant and resistant participants from a crowd. In addition, they know when to call for a time out or break to help the audience refresh and regroup.
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