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Why trainers hate (some) delegates

By JACKIE BARRIE Published 1st Jul 2013
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Because they don’t know what they don’t know so they don’t know what they need to ask you for.

Training tip: The first task of the trainer is to establish a good brief. However, organisations generally don’t tell the trainer enough about what attendees already know and what they need to learn; neither do they tell the attendee what they are expected to get out of the training nor measure the results afterwards.

Because they cancel your course at the last minute, after you’ve cleared your diary, done all the prep and printed all the handouts.

Training tip: Ensure your terms and conditions include a cancellation clause so you get paid a percentage that increases as you get closer to the training date.

Because they make you park far away from the training room so you have to carry heavy materials for miles.

Because you arrange to meet someone early to set up before the delegates arrive, but they are never there, so you twiddle your thumbs in reception until someone leads you to the training room – then you find they don’t have sufficient power points or wifi logon or flipchart in place. What’s more, the training room is full of leftover rubbish from the previous session, so you have to spend ages clearing it up.

Because they double-book your training with something else so half the delegates you’re expecting don’t show up. Or, because one or two extras decide at the last minute that they’d like to ‘sit in’, and you don’t have enough handouts for them.

Training tip: Take a USB stick with a copy of your handouts (or store them ‘in the cloud’) so you can print extra on the day if required. Or arrange photocopying. Bring spare manuals and a hole-punch.

Because they arrive late at the start, and then after every break, so you have to make chirpy small talk while you wait for them. When they finally do turn up, they’ve missed something important, interrupt your flow and then ask questions that you’ve already answered while they were out of the room.

Training tip: Praise punctuality at the start. At the outset, agree ground rules that include time-keeping. Set a specific return time such as 1.58. Always start on time. Announce a teaser before the break, so people don’t want to miss it. Give out points for promptness with a prize at the end of the day. Some trainers even enforce forfeits for late-comers, such as making them sing or dance (I don’t do that).

Because they never complete their pre-work objective sheets (except on the one occasion when you forget to ask about them).

Because they say ‘sorry, I have to leave early’ and ask you to use your lunch break filling them in on what they’ll miss.

Because they talk too much, chat amongst themselves and take the conversation off topic. Because, when you set them a task that involves talking to each other, they won’t stop.

Training tip: Use a sound cue such as a gong or whistle, music, or a slow handclap. Or agree a ground rule that when someone sees you or anyone else put up your hand, they stop talking and put up their own hand (that one works particularly well with big groups).

Because they talk too little. Maybe they don’t want to be there. It may not be their fault; they may have been ‘sent’ by their manager (probably as part of a review where they have been identified as ‘not good enough’ at something – no wonder they’re disengaged).

Training tip: Bring it out into the open, and be ready to be flexible about the course content if it seems necessary. Don’t do ‘chalk and talk’ schoolroom lecturing, do an exercise or tell a story. Do less talking and more listening. Start a discussion or paired sharing session.

Because you invite questions and no-one says anything.

Training tip: Maybe they didn’t hear you clearly or didn’t understand what you were talking about in the first place. Ensure you test comprehension at every stage. Give out a prize to the first person to ask a question. Never laugh at or get impatient with questioners; it discourages others.

Because you ask them to turn their phones to silent during the session but then they take incoming calls anyway.

Training tip: Ask them to turn their phones to silent, but invite them to tweet their key learnings using a hashtag of your choice.

Because they don’t tell you if they found the room too hot or cold, except on the feedback forms at the end when it’s too late for you to do anything about it.

Because, after all that, they leave your lovingly prepared handouts behind at the end of the day.

Can you think of any other reasons why trainers hate (some) delegates? Or have any other tips to share? Please add them in the comments below. Thank you.

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkpurse/5355919491/">pinkpurse</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

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