A Trainer Goes on a Train the Trainer course

change

I am a passionate believer in a life-long learning!

Once I realised that education did not end with leaving the school (which, for some strange reason, was not that obvious to me first 😉 ) and that human capacity to acquire new skills and knowledge is ever-expanding, I went on a fascinating journey.

I learned (and are still learning!) two new languages, acquired specialist knowledge on several subjects completely unrelated to my university degree, gained new skills – physical and mental, social and emotional, professional and personal.

To put it simply – I realised that I am not a finished but rather a work-in-progress product. The discoveries and possibilities suddenly became endless!

Last week was a great reminder of this.

My employer decided to send me to the Train the Trainer course. Initially, the reason behind it was for our organisation to be able to meet the requirements for delivering CPD accredited courses (that is courses which would allow our attendees to gain points towards their Continuous Development Programme) rather than to actually gain new skills.

Regardless of the reasons, I was very pleased to have been given the opportunity to attend the course, especially since it was a 2-day training promising that we would ‘dig deep into the subject’

Despite having trained hundreds of people around the world over the last four years, I went there with an open mind. I have also decided that (in spite of my clear passion for the subject and natural extraversion) I would listen carefully to everything.

Right at the start, our trainer Ralph asked us:

‘Would you like to be pushed over the next 2 days’?

All of us, more or less confidently said  “Yes!” despite feeling a bit of natural apprehension towards the unknown.

Little did I know when shouting my ‘Yes’ how much I would regret saying it later on! 🙂

I think it’s fair to say that this was, so far, one of the most challenging educational experiences I have ever participated in!

It took me 3 days to fully recover from the intense 14 hours that we spent together during the course. My brain was on fire even during the night after the first day of training dreaming about some subjects that we discussed! 🙂

I have to admit, though, that I did feel a bit disappointed after the first day. This was simply because of the fact that I failed to successfully complete one of the exercises. The new knowledge didn’t sink in properly and I felt a bit ashamed about it that evening.

But the next day I woke up with a strong realisation that through my failure I have learned what I didn’t know I didn’t know! This was an ideal point to get to just before the second day and I was ready for any challenges.

The whole course provided many useful and practical insights and I could probably write a whole book about it.

Below are my biggest eye-openers that I would like to share with you:

  1. Knowing yours and your learners’ MBTI type can be crucial to understanding how we learn

3 months ago, one of my business colleagues, a senior manager in a highly successful travel search engine has once introduced me to this simple test. MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) allows you to discover your personality type through a series of questions about your preferences. It helps you understand what gives you more energy, how you perceive the world and what you take into consideration when making decisions. At the end of the test, you are given a 4 letter code indicating your personality. For instance, mine is ENFJ.

I decided to take this test last month while studying about leadership and the importance of self-management and was fascinated to realise during the course that this can also be used in training! I can completely understand that it might be difficult to persuade, especially strangers to do this type of testing at the beginning of the session but I think that this could be a very valuable tool for training employees within an organisation. I found reading about my type both fascinating and shocking at the same time simply because of the fact how accurate it was!

2. You’ve got to practice to master the subject

What surprised me the most during the course was that after literally 1 hour of training, we were told to deliver a 10-minute session on what we have learned so far. My inner chimp went in a mild panic mode – ‘Present?! Already?? But I am not prepared!’. Typical reaction for a high Judging MBTI type 🙂 Throughout the training, we had several occasions to practice all the newly gained skills and that helped me comprehend the new things in a quicker way.

3. You can guide people to learn without explaining everything yourself

Lecture and training are two different things.

Ralph explained that the most successful trainers are those that teach not tell. This was such an important point for me to understand! When planning a new training I have had a tendency of spending much more time preparing for what am I going to say rather than how I would interact with my audience. High engagement rate has always been extremely important for me but I found it much more natural to rely on the conversation driven by questions from the audience rather than driving the conversation myself.

That is why learning about questioning techniques has opened my eyes to a whole lot of opportunities. We were explained (and of course we practised!) how to use rhetorical, open and closed questions, as well as how to use probing and reasoning questions to help the audience discover the answers themselves.

I have to stress here that this was the part that I found most difficult to implement when practising because I had to actively think while delivering a training on how to throw, for instance, a reasoning question. I also realised that I had a tendency to ask a lot of closed questions such as ‘Do you like chocolate?’ (that’s is also a rhetorical question for me 🙂 ) rather than ‘Describe why you like or don’t like chocolate’. I also discovered that most of my questions were starting with ‘Does anyone’ or ‘Could anyone’ which, apparently, almost guarantees no response!

Those that know me or saw me delivering training know that I absolutely love teaching people but these newly gained skills made me feel extraordinarily enthusiastic about delivering my next training session. For me, this is an outstanding result!

And here is the most important point – if the idea of training is to either teach new things and/or change the way people do certain things, then creating enthusiasm for a change through gaining and practising the new knowledge should be the goal for each trainer to achieve!

For me, Ralph Moody from Target Training Associates has achieved this goal and that is why I am happy to recommend him!

 

 

Why Do You Want to Bin Your Fear?

Two very interesting things happened today.

One of the speakers that I follow on Linkedin published the following post:

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 19.44.41

Kirsty, a well-known presenter in the digital marketing world, decided to share with her followers that speaking at conferences helped her gain more confidence, learn more and meet more people. She went as far as saying that it changed her life.

I loved that she did it and couldn’t agree more with this!

So much that I wish I could convince the whole world to give it a try! 🙂

This newly gained confidence that comes from speaking, from hearing your firm and relaxed voice, from making a connection with a group of people and knowing that you are teaching someone something new, it’s something very special. So special, that once you learn it, it has the ability to have a much bigger impact on your whole life!

Learning how to bin my public speaking fear (or rather how to manage it) did so much more for me than helping me deliver better presentations or feeling more comfortable in front of the public.

The confidence gained from obtaining this new skill has been shining on a lot of things that I have done in business or in my private time ever since!

There is something immensely empowering in believing that you can do something, decide to make a change in your life based on that belief and then actually make it happen! It is such a liberating feeling that you just want to do it again and again and again! 🙂

Today reminded me of all of this firmly because of another event that also took place.

Towards the end of the day, Anna, a colleague of mine shared with me that she has recently attended a content marketing conference where a motivational speaker, Jim Lawless delivered his talk.

Firstly, I was very happy to hear that these type of speakers are now invited to digital marketing events! Don’t we all sometimes need a bit more motivation regardless of how technical/creative/specialised/you-name-it our job is? 🙂

Secondly, I found the story that he presented very interesting. During the event, he (as Anna reported to me) told the audience how, during one of his speeches on fear, someone from the audience challenged him to put into practice what he preached and attempt one of the most frightening and dangerous things in the world – becoming a horse jockey. And to make it easy to measure, in order to complete the challenge he would have to ride in a televised race in one year’s time!

Jim was 36 at the time, has never ridden a horse, was overweight and smoked cigarettes. But yet he accepted the bet. He did that to prove that a fear can be tamed and you can decide and do whatever you want to do if you truly committed and determined to make it happen.

Do you wonder if he did it? 🙂 Check out this video!

I truly, madly, deeply believe that whatever I firmly put my mind to I can do!

This belief has helped me experience over the last 12 years some truly remarkable things in my life. Things that I have never even dreamt of doing!

For me, getting rid of a fear was a purely practical solution that I desired. I was really shy at expressing my opinions during the business meetings. I would mostly stay quiet even if I thought I had a good idea. One day, out of pure frustration that I could no longer tolerate this limiting feeling, I said that enough was enough and signed myself up for a public speaking course.

All I was thinking at that point is that I could not, should not, must not tolerate any longer this silly fear of mine!!

Little did I know at that time where that would lead me to!

What’s your reason to get rid of the fear? 

Find a strong one, get annoyed with your fear, work hard and anything will be possible!

Even becoming a horse jockey! 🙂

 

 

Old Habits Kill Progress

4gats

A three-minute walk from Las Ramblas in Barcelona a very old cafe can be found. It is believed that Picasso used to regularly visit this place for a drink. He also held his first solo exhibition there.

On a central wall of the cafe hangs an enormous size painting of two men on a bike. One of them is trying to sit straight and smiling at the viewer. The other one, in a reclined position, is pedalling hard and looking ahead.

When I first saw the painting, I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

I stared at it mesmerised for such a long time that one of the waiters decided to give me an A3-size photocopy of the picture. That was almost three years ago and ever since I came back home this copy has been hanging on a wall in my house.

I would often look at it and wonder what the message that the painter left in the right-hand corner meant.

Tonight I went back to the cafe and solved this mystery.

‘To ride a bike you can’t sit straight’.

That’s it ??

I wanted to know more so, just like every ‘professional’ researcher nowadays, I Googled it 🙂

I found out that the painting was created specifically for the reopening of the cafe by a Catalan Spanish artist called Ramon Casas.

Few more articles later I learned that what the painter meant:

To make progress you’ve got to change the old habits’.

Trying to ride a bike while sitting straight, just like in the olden days, will not take you far!

I couldn’t agree more with these words!

We often live our lives on autopilots doing the same things over and over again yet dreaming about different results.

Our habits often help us stay in our comfort zone, keep us away from the unknown and make us feel seemingly safe.

They also allow us to switch off thinking.

But they can limit us too.

Any change starts with a brave decision to try something new. What follows, is the first firm step into the new direction.

Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, even if we don’t know exactly what we will find on our journey.

Deciding to make a change from some of our usual bad habits is the starting point on the journey to experience new adventures, explore new fields and to learn more about ourselves and others.

Only then we can truly grow!

 

 

 

 

A very special anniversary

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 13.26.08

11th March.

I looked at the calendar and thought: ‘something important happened on that day’.

I couldn’t figure out what it was until I checked my work calendar. Exactly a year ago, I organised my first ever public speaking session at my company!

I didn’t plan it.

It wasn’t my idea.

A senior employee, who attended my series of a digital marketing-related training that I delivered at my company’s offices,  approached me after the last session.

-Why don’t you teach us all how you do it?

-But.. I thought I just did! – I replied and smiled slightly worried.

-No, I mean teach us how to speak so comfortably in public!

I was surprised, flattered and a bit doubtful when I first heard it. But, at the same time, my brain immediately started imagining what I could do to in order to make it happen.

-I guess I could! – I replied.

The next day, in order not to chicken out from this idea, I created an event and invited the whole company to a 2-hour session that was due to take place in just over 2 weeks time.

I started preparing myself by writing all the possible things I could share.

But as I was doing it, the chimp in my head (that is the emotional part of my brain) realised the potential magnitude of this task and I got very anxious.

I was just about to attempt to persuade my work colleagues that speaking with confidence in front of an audience is possible and, if practised, can even become enjoyable!

And I, the person who was still nervous before each new speech, was to stand there and make it sound easy!

It wasn’t just about learning how to speak. To make an impact, this training had to be about learning how to express yourself freely, telling the world who you are, what’s your story and what you know!

Who was I to do such a thing?

Did I know enough about it myself?

Did I have the power to convince anyone to try?

“But what if they think that I am full of myself?”- my chimp was definitely not helping out with this task.

I knew I had to go back to working on myself. On my own confidence!

I went back to reading my books on this subject, I watched loads of videos on Youtube from Stanford and Harvard University professors, motivational speakers, through to doctors and spiritual leaders.

A week before the session I already had 25 people signed up for the training and then the adrenaline hit really hard…

I read more, researched more and wrote more of what I would like to say because that was taking me away from my anxious and unhelpful thoughts.

It got to the point that I even got myself a waterproof notepad and took notes of videos that I watched while taking a bath. Seriously, I still have it and highly recommend it! 🙂

I also knew that just reading a book, watching a video or attending a lecture wouldn’t get anyone to speak.

This training couldn’t be as simple as showing some slides and telling my story. It had to be done in a way that our scared brains would react in a courageous way!

We had to practice speaking!

11th March arrived.

I stood in front of all these people who gathered in a small room. My mouth was dry, my hands were shaking, my breath was shallow.

I told them I would share my story and my speaking tips but we were also going to practice speaking.

I could see the fear in their eyes. They didn’t expect it and they definitely didn’t look forward to it!

And then.. something beautiful happened.

I realised that all of these people decided to participate because they trusted that I could teach them something useful.

My mind decided to switch its attention from my thoughts to the thoughts of my audience.

My heart followed applying the same system to feelings.

Somehow all the right words came to my mouth and I said much more than I thought I would. Fo 2 hours we were all operating on the same wave length. We smiled, we laughed, we shared the same emotions, we practice speaking and… we all had a great time! 

I cried that night from the overwhelming feeling of gratefulness for this moment in my life. I realised that by overcoming my own fear I gave something important to others.

Ever since that day, we have been meeting on regular basis to practice our skills by presenting 5-minute speeches where anyone has a chance to share their thoughts on any subject as long as its at least slightly related to work. The audience plays an important role in this too because after each speech everyone has to give the presenter some positive feedback.

Why only positive?

Because our brains are experts in finding negatives themselves and most of the time we know very well what we did wrong. However, it’s what we do right that is sometimes hard for ourselves to pinpoint.

If you hear from others what you do right, what made them listen, what is your strength, you can use that to master your further speeches.

It needed, however, to be done in a safe atmosphere which is not often easy to achieve at workplaces. But boy did we do it.. So far, I heard almost 20 stories during which we cried, laughed, felt intrigued, inspired and educated. We realised how much talent and knowledge lies within us and we felt even more driven to do more!

A few months later I delivered another training session on this subject and I can truly say that both the training and the practice sessions are changing my life constantly!  I really believe that they help us built trust within the company, they make us all grow personally and professionally.

 public speaking3

March is a very special month for me also for another reason. Four of those people who attended the training are going abroad this month to present for the first time in their life at a business conference related to our industry.

They go there to look their fear in the eyes and to show the world who they are. Because they told themselves THEY CAN!

And the rest will be history 🙂

What 2016 Taught Me About Public Speaking?

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 13.07.58End of each year is always a good occasion for conducting some summaries.

2016 has been another very busy one for me.

When I look back at this year, I could think about how much time I spent away from home on many long and lonely business trips.

Instead, I decided to shift my focus and made a list of all the things that I learned through this experience.

  • For the first time in my life, I presented on a big stage in front of 200 people and..I really enjoyed it! All my experience as a small groups’ trainer paid off when speaking in front of a large group and it didn’t feel much different. I then delivered a short workshop to 80 people in London which I also purely enjoyed. Something that just 4 years would have made me struggle to sleep at night proved to be enjoyable!
  • It turned out that delivering webinars is not very different from doing a face-to-face training. It requires the same amount of preparation in terms of the content, but more focus on a number of words chosen to describe the subject (the time was limited to 20 minutes) and more control of your own emotions.
  • I discovered that I can pass my knowledge on public speaking and organise practice sessions that people are willing to attend
  • I realised that with enough of enthusiasm and dedication I could teach other people to become successful speakers/trainers
  • I learned that during the most difficult time in my private life I could control my emotions and deliver a successful training

How to make 2017 the year of learning?

Every day brings opportunities to learn but it’s great to stop and check if we are actually doing it. And if the answer is ever ‘no’ then I always ask myself what I can do to learn more.

What areas would you like to improve?

If you are not sure, research various learning opportunities – whether this will be classes where you can master your public speaking, financial skills, improve your fitness or discover a new hobby.

If you want to grow and feel more satisfied with your development, put yourself forward to any learning opportunities that come your way. For instance, check any training that is offered by your company, local council or your friends. You may not know why you are doing it to start with or do it for another reason but it will pay off at some point in your life. I did public speaking course 4 years ago because I wanted to improve my communication skills during the business meetings. Little did I know where this will lead me!

Try to fill in gaps in our own understanding. Search for the answers to questions that you ask.

And finally, don’t expect different results by continuously doing what you have done so far.

When you learn, you grow and when you grow you feel fulfilled and that your life/career is going in the right direction.

I will finish with the quote which summarises this article well. It’s from one of my favourite Tedtalk presenters: Ken Robinson.

‘Human resources are like natural resources; they’re often buried deep. You have to go looking for them; they’re not just lying around on the surface’ 

Think Yourself to Speaking Well

blog1

I have recently finished reading a little but powerful book.

It’s called ‘As a Man Thinketh’ and it was published in 1903 by a British writer James Allen. The book is less than forty pages long but on every single page it sends a very powerful and clear message – learning how to manage your thoughts will put you in more control of your life and help you accomplish the things that are important to you.

I really believe that we are much more than what we think we are. By simply learning how to choose more positive and empowering thoughts and rejecting those that makes us feel scared, unworthy and weak, we can become more confident in our abilities.

The author compares our minds to a garden. Whether cultivated or neglected, things will grow in them. If gardens are cultivated and kept free from weeds, flowers and fruit grow. If neglected, weeds will start taking over and no seed will grow.

Looking after the garden requires self-discipline and practice. The more time you spend doing it, the better you become at it, the easier it gets. However, hard work is required right from the start.

It’s very easy to get nervous before the speech. All the natural fears of unknown, failure and being rejected kick in with twice the power.

I try my best to not allow myself to think negatively about the upcoming, arranged speaking events. Whenever the discouraging thoughts somehow manage to find the way into my brain, I quickly find the ways of distracting them with something more empowering – that is, for instance, reminding myself about the amount of time spent preparing for the talk, imagining the best possible outcome -seeing myself delivering an amazing and powerful talk or recalling all the other successful speaking experiences that I had in the past.

As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking. To put away aimlessness and weakness, and to begin to think with purpose, is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognise failure as one of the pathways to attainment; who make all conditions serve them, and who think strongly, attempt fearlessly, and accomplish masterfully.

Every action starts with a thought. The first step to becoming a successful public speaker is to decide to become one.

Despite your fears.

 

My passport got stolen but…

test

Do you believe that all things in life happen for a reason?

Yesterday, my passport and mobile phone got stolen in Barcelona. I spent 3 hours at the police station trying to get a document that would allow me to fly home after a busy week of training. However, even with that document, I was refused at the airport to board the plane. The embassy of my country is now closed until Monday and after an unsuccessful search for any alternative, the only thing I could do is to go back to the hotel from which I checked out earlier that day.

Quite scary and shocking experience if you ask me..

Being stuck in Barcelona meant that today I had a full day for myself. I decided to go to Park Guell – one of my favourite places in the world. I sat there for hours underneath a tree, reading an amazing book, listening to my favourite album and admiring beautiful views – something that I always wanted to do but never had time for during all my previous visits to this city.

While sitting in the park, I observed people, who were capturing few photos and then quickly moving to the next place. I saw teenagers, mums with kids and middle-aged couples taking endless selfies and portraits with two-seconds-long, big smiles on their faces.

And I couldn’t stop thinking…

What is going to happen with all of these photos?

The owners will probably:

a) post them on Facebook the same day making some of their friends wish they could be somewhere else right now and therefore feel a bit dissatisfied with their lives

b) watch them a few years later wishing that they could live the past again

c) forget about them and the place itself since what they really focused on was technology rather than the real beauty of this amazing location

Yesterday was not the greatest days of my life, but if those unpleasant events didn’t happen I wouldn’t experience and learn something very special.

Today taught me a very important lesson – to slow down, make time for myself and enjoy every beautiful moment when it actually happens.

Because that’s where the real beauty, happiness and peace can be found.