My good friend & colleague Melanda Schmid & I just finished doing a 6 day training in Cairo, Egypt. The participants were from 20+ countries & it fell to Melanda to make sure visas were got, tickets were bought & everyone ended up at the right place at the right time.
She did a masterful job (truly, it was a wonder to behold watching her orchestrate the logistics) AND it meant she couldn’t put as much time into the training design as she would have liked to.
When we were sitting down to meet about the training design she referred to ‘those awkward crunchy bits’ a.k.a. those times when things go sideways in a training, when things don’t turn out like you’d hoped, when you forget a crucial supply, when you run into glitches & gaffes & are wondering if you can do anything right, including if you’ve got your underwear on right side out.
Scott Berkun talks about this in his book ‘Confessions of a Public Speaker’ – particularly in the chapter called ‘It couldn’t possibly get worse than this’ (which has one speaker astonished when a SWAT team arrives to drag away one of his participants!).
As trainers we’re a brave lot. Let’s face it, getting up in front of people & speaking (let alone teaching them something) causes our prehistoric brain to scream ‘run!’
Those ‘crunchy awkward bits’ are almost always less crunchy & awkward than we think they are. One of the participants in the Cairo training, a delightful, multi-talented, vivacious, skilled woman was in tears, berating herself for the self-described bad job she did presenting. Our opinion? She may not have hit it out of the park but she did well.
How you respond when you’re not 100% on top of your game can either make your audience squirm in embarrassment with you or root along with empathy & understanding.
It depends on how you react to your own ‘awkward crunchy bits.’
Responding with humour & humility is a sure sign of a confident trainer (& one who will keep the participants engaged & interested).
Next time you feel you’re spinning in one place, directionless, take a look at how beautiful & real that can look to others.
(I filmed this on a Nile River cruise one evening after a training day.)