I’ve been doing training & development workshops, as well as training trainers, for a loooong, loveable time. And in that time, when I’m training trainers, I often get asked about all things related to keeping your cool & composure when things go sideways. In other words, how to feel like you’re in control when you’re not.
Because they will. Go sideways that is.
Despite your best efforts:
- one day you’ll get lost on your way to the workshop
- critical workshop supplies will somehow disappear
- microphones that you just did a sound check with will stop working. Or your client won’t let you do a sound check (which is an absolute guarantee that the sound won’t work).
- a bear will wander by your training room window
- a whale will jump next to your training room
- the heat won’t work (in the dead of winter & the controls will be in the hands of a bureaucrat … in another city)
- 50 people will be jammed into a room meant for 20
- a massive fireplace will be in the centre of the training room, necessitating you to hop back & forth so both sides of the room can see you during a 2 day training
- unbeknownst to you, 1/2 of your participants will be angrily waiting for you to start & wondering why you’re so late, while you’re working with the other 1/2 in another room (the workshop, in error, being publicized in two different rooms)
- your handouts will be forgotten to be brought to the workshop by the client
- you’ll be teaching a group where, for one person it’s their first day back on the job after brain surgery and for another it’s their first day back after recovering from being kidnapped
(These have all happened to me. Truly.)
So what’s a trainer to do?
- Don’t ignore the situation. Pretending it’s not happening won’t make it go away. Unless privacy issues are involved (see the last point above) talk to your participants about what’s going on.
- Don’t lose your sense of humour. It’s your best friend when everyone (you included) are shivering & hunkered down in a freezing room with hats, mitts & winter jackets on.
- Don’t try to change what can’t be changed. Or in other words, if you can’t fight & you can’t flee …. flow. Fireplace in the middle of your training room & you can’t change rooms? Go with it. Consider the exercise you’ll get hopping back & forth between both sides of the room while you’re training.
Want another example? One that incorporates all 3 suggestions above? Take a boo below. Pay attention to your reaction. By following the ‘3 don’t rules’ he comes off as very impressive.