Programmers Love Training - Tips to Become a Successful Corporate Trainer
Posted by: Subodh Sohoni
in Category General Topics
Abstract: I have been conducting corporate trainings since 2001 and so far I have conducted more than 300 successful corporate trainings on Microsoft technologies. Today I am going to open my thoughts about why I think that I have been able to maintain such a high rate of success for so many years.
I am a Microsoft Certified Trainer since 2004 and a Visual Studio Team System(VSTS) MVP since 2009. I have been conducting corporate trainings since 2001 and so far conducted more than 300 corporate trainings on technologies like .NET, ASP.NET, Networking, Microsoft Solution Framework and for the last few years on Visual Studio – Application Lifecycle Management. Geographically most of these trainings have been in India, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia too. I have conducted trainings from Small and Medium software development firms to Large system integrators. The best thing about these trainings that I take pride in is the rate of success of the trainings that I have conducted. Over 98% of the trainings that I have conducted are successful with excellent or above average feedbacks from participants. Today I am going to open my thoughts about why I think that I have been able to maintain such a high rate of success for so many years. I am making a few suggestions and sharing a few guidelines that you may think of implementing. I implement all of them, always.
1. Before any session, prepare yourself well to deliver the session - Think that the session is going to be the best on that subject in the world. Although you may get a chance to deliver a similar session elsewhere, the participants who are attending that session have only one chance to learn that technology, and that is the session that you are going to deliver. Do not waste their only chance. They are the customers who have given you a contract, so it is your responsibility to provide the satisfaction and delight to the participants. At the end of the training, they should feel comfortable about the technology that you trained them on. In a way you should sell the advantages of that technology to the participants and make them aware of its shortfalls.
2. Be aware of the cutting edge technology in your chosen subject - Although it may seem unnecessary to be aware of more than what is required to deliver a session, I believe that maintaining a lead in the awareness about the latest developments happening in the subject that you are delivering, earns a respect of the participants. Spend sufficient time to be aware of allied technologies, competing technologies and their terminologies. When I deliver a session on latest development in Visual Studio – ALM, I keep myself aware about IBM Jazz, Subversion, BugZilla etc. so that I can discuss about them with participants who may probably use them.
3. Know about the participants - Not all the participants and organizations are same. If you know about the participants that you are going to face in the session, then you can prepare yourself to address their issues and concerns. If you can take examples from their domain or past projects, it increases the enthusiasm amongst the participants. Be careful not to delve too deep as that could disturb the schedule. If you do not get any idea of participants or the organization that they work for and their domain, then make 25% more preparation than you usually expect.
4. Prepare for every session - After you deliver a subject a few times, certain amount of complacency sets in. You tend to take things for granted and go to the session without preparation. This can be a fatal mistake since every session is a different session and you should prepare for the same subject with a different set of participant perspectives.
5. Set expectation about the session, right in the beginning. Every participant has some expectation from the training that they are going to attend. It is not always possible to meet those expectations. What is possible is to mould those expectations at the beginning of the session so that they are in line with what you have in scope. With these modified expectations, now the acceptance of your session will be much better.
6. Be passionate about the session delivery and visibly show that passion - Participants appreciate when they see you passionate about the technology that is being trained and explained to them. You should not only be passionate about your chosen subject but also about explaining the nuances of that and also explicitly show that you are passionate. There is nothing wrong about a little stage acting and drama in the class, it makes the session lively and you get attention of most of the participants. At the same time be frank about ignorance about some topic if you have not prepared that topic. Most of the participants understand that you are also a human being and need not always know everything under the sun about a subject. If some participants enter into the argument about the way tools or technology behave then make them aware that you are only a trainer of that tool or technology. Neither have you designed or created that tool or technology nor are you trying to sell it to them. You need not defend that tool or technology at the cost of losing your poise.
7. Involve the participants - Corporate training is not like school or a tuition. It should be as participative as possible to make it interesting to the participants. Ask questions, tell stories and ask them to complete those, ask their opinion about a particular topic where they may seem to have some experience and if nothing else is possible, chat with them once in a while to keep them focused towards you. Pay attention to them. Most of the participants give non-verbal signals of satisfaction, dissatisfaction, boredom, excitement etc. Keep observing those signals and remain agile enough to modify your delivery based upon those observations.
8. Be predictable about what you speak most of the times - Maintain timeline of delivery. Explain some feature in part, give them time to think further about that feature by explaining some minor point and then tell participants what they expect. It is a human tendency that they accept words easily which they expect. If they can predict what you are about to say and then if you say those words they are satisfied with themselves and that reflects in their acceptance of you.
9. Be punctual about all activities - Whether it is arriving for session, giving a break, providing time for labs etc. Do not delay anything that you ‘can’ do on time. If a participant starts a detailed discussion on a particular topic that may take a long time, then move that discussion for off-line.
10. Undertake the assignment only when -
a. You are fully comfortable about the subject. Half cooked knowledge is not going to give satisfaction to participants.
b. You are fully fit. Do not jeopardize the entire assignment by taking it up when you are not fit enough to deliver the training. One of the reasons that you may not be fit is undertaking too many assignments in a short span. Avoid overexposing yourself to remain fit.
c. Know your environment well. If you are going to take hands-on labs but do not know the kind of hardware and software that is available in the labs, it is better to go early and familiarize yourself of that environment before the session starts.
d. You are mentally at peace with yourself, your family and the organization that you work for. If you find that difficult to achieve, learn to meditate.
I am sure that if you follow all or at the least some of these suggestions that I have made, you will become a successful trainer for corporate trainings. You can leave a comment here, contact me at subodhsohoni[atdrate]hotmail or follow me on twitter. You can even Bookmark this post for future use.
This article has been editorially reviewed by Suprotim Agarwal.
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