Life as we know it has changed quite a bit due to the Covid pandemic.
While most industries have suffered due to the lockdown, training has moved online with comparative ease.
During my conversation with HR heads about their training needs, I realised that the nature of training also has shifted.
The conversations were around the same topics but the nature has changed.
For instance, the 8 hour training model is a thing of the past – we have to now think in terms of 60-120 minute sessions.
Since the sessions are online now, one has to be very picky about choosing the right content. And also the kind of activities that people can effectively do in front of their computers.
While I have spoken about training related aspects before, I decided to do a post on how the skills of a trainer have evolved in times of the #newnormal.
You may want to read this also – How to start a career as a corporate trainer
Moving on with the post, here are 4 key skills of a trainer that the lockdown has challenged!
1. DOMAIN EXPERTISE: This is, hands down, the most important skill of a trainer at any time.
In the new world, it is strong command over subject matter which’ll help a trainer survive.
2. QUESTIONING SKILLS: A trainer needs to excel in this skill not just during a session.
Most clients bank on the trainer’s domain knowledge to bring in clarity about content to be covered.
So excellence in questioning is also a key skill.
3. CONTENT CREATION: Gone are the days of 8 hour sessions!
This is a bit tricky – customising about 6 hours into a 2 hour Zoom session needs skill and experience.
The online medium comes with it’s own challenges so dodging them needs a keen understanding of what will work.
4. CLASS CONTROL: This has acquired a completely new meaning in the new world.
You don’t have a physical class, yet managing it is a bigger challenge since we are all new to this format.
Let’s go over each in detail:
SKILLS OF A TRAINER # 1: DOMAIN EXPERTISE
This is, hands down, the most important skill for any professional at any time!
I started training CAT entrance aspirants in 2003. After a Masters in Literature, this was new territory.
My expertise was demanded in areas in reading comprehension, vocabulary and grammar.
I was teaching at a centre where students from Delhi’s premier colleges attended the classes.
The result: I had to up my game so that I’m not caught on the back foot!
I mastered grammar concepts and hand-wrote the meanings and synonyms of 3000 commonly used words from the TOEFL guide.
That was just the beginning.
And the habit of building a strong foundation in my subject area has served me well to this day!
It’s not about how much knowledge you will need, it about how deep are you willing to go!
Domain expertise is key because:
? People trust you more for it
? Your personal brand is stronger
? You can help the client with the exact skills they need
? You’ll be able to cater to a wide variety of training needs
? You only get better as you develop more expertise
In the new world, this is a key skill to survive! If you aren’t really really good at what you do, you might as well not do it!
So, read books in your niche, take up courses, watch videos and perfect your craft.
You may want to read this: how to choose a training niche
SKILLS OF A TRAINER # 2 – QUESTIONING SKILLS:
I figured this one through experience!
Usually the training needs that come up are so vague that it’s pointed questioning that can bring clarity.
Most clients bank on the trainer’s domain knowledge to bring that clarity.
Some of the basic questions that any client call includes are:
? What’s the participant profile like – their experience, their job description and what do they lack?
? How do they know that their team needs enhancing of a particular skill?
? What should the team be able to do after the training?
? What is the time available for the program?
The right questions also help you judge the kind and amount of content you will need for the program.
And the answers to those questions help create the best fit for the client.
These are just some questions during a client call.
Questioning assumes a whole new importance during a class – a lot of discussions and learning can happen through the right questions.
I found that the train the trainer program I did from Dale Carnegie really helped with this skill.
You may want to read this for more clarity: How to choose the best training certification
SKILLS OF A TRAINER # 3 – CONTENT CREATION
I think this is one skill that has evolved the most in the current scenario.
I have spoken to a few HR managers during the lockdown. And it’s been a learning curve to fully grasp the change.
8-hour physical sessions have now become 2-hour virtual sessions.
For all the personal branding one could do, what you deliver in a session is the true touchstone of how good a trainer is!
Your domain expertise is key in choosing what exactly should go in to the session.
Virtual training is tricky since apart from the content, the presentation is equally critical for the success of the session.
Here are a few tips to get this right:
? Be crystal clear about the training needs
? Make it amply clear if the expectations exceed what can actually be covered in the session
? The content in a 60 minute virtual session can never be as dense as a full day session. So don’t try to make up for it
? Envision the virtual session while putting in activities. Implementing learnings is a bit challenging online
? Learn from your virtual sessions to see what could be changed to make things better the next time
SKILLS OF A TRAINER # 4: FACILITATING A SESSION
I had about 35 participants in each batch of customer service program for a leading bank!
If I thought that was challenging, virtual classes come with their own unique set of problems
I think there are mainly 2 challenges in a virtual class:
? Keeping it interesting at every moment
? Preventing people from multi tasking – which comes from the first point
Here are a few tips to help:
✅ Don’t cram the entire duration with content. You’ll fall short of time
✅ Always log in earlier so that you are all set by the time people start coming in
✅ Deduct the first 5 minutes from content time – for “can you see me?”, “I can’t hear you” messages
✅ Don’t hide behind a ppt – trust me! Your connect will be so much better
✅ Focus on interactive techniques like questioning than running theory for minutes together
✅ Aim at max 2 takeaways in one session so there’s ample time for questions and interactions
✅ Keep an eye on the chat box – that’s where your participants are leaving comments
✅ TIME MANAGEMENT – and I think capital letters emphasise that enough! Nothing makes online participants more antsy than a delayed end
This is just the tip of the ice berg! Things are in a state of flux and the full import of it is yet to come.
But if you are a trainer, these skills are a good start to up your game and match the changing times.
What are some of the other things that you’d like to add to this list? Drop them in the comments and let’s all learn together.
PS: I also run a trainer mentoring program for new trainers which has benefitted many. You can drop me a line in the comments or email me on email@example.com for more details.