Global Learning and Development Manager Norfolk County Council
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Personal development - a journey without end

9th Sep 2010
Global Learning and Development Manager Norfolk County Council
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Three years ago I attended a trainer training course in Bristol with John Seymour. I thought that after 25 years of designing, delivering and evaluating I would do what many top sportspeople do and that is take my game apart and put it back together again.

At the time my expectations were around incremental improvements to my delivery style and a sharper focus on how I delivered a better result for learners attending my training.
What I got was a mind blowing - seat of the pants - universe changing - uplifting and motivating experience spread over the ten days of the programme.
After my initial ten days in 2007 my key learning points were:
1. That my past success was in large part due to my personal state which is always very positive and that trainer state, more than anything else affects the way learners respond. This helped to explain why I felt that some of the reasons trainers gave for poor sessions did not add up for me, for example delivering training in a noisy warehouse floor, in a hotel car park (due to a bomb threat) 
and in a dark Mumbai office with a power cut for three hours and training for a day with no voice produced no obstacles to delivering really effective sessions.
Since these experiences I stopped asking delegates about the training room, food or anything outside of the training itself as these factors have no impact if the trainer does not allow them to and attendees can and do screen out such distractions if they want to. 
    
2. Rapport is the most critical area that enables everything else to follow in delivering a successful training session. I already knew this but the level of rapport I learned about on this course was on a whole new dimension that required me to think about my relationship with each individual attendee and the group at the same time and throughout the training session.
3. This lead to a further realisation that I knew my material so well I did not have to think about it consciously and this is essential in maintaining the high level of rapport needed to maintain a productive working relationship with each person and the group. A recent thread on TZ has discussed the concept of training with little or no knowledge and prior to my experience in 2007 I would have said that this was very possible having done it myself. Looking back on those occasions I realised that what I delivered was a satisfactory or even good presentation which I was happy with as a "performance" to a group without this necessarily making it an effective training session for the group which requires so much more.  Now I would say it is possible to facilitate a session with little or no knowledge, I did this on many occasions as a consultant and specifically as a facilitator managing the process for a team or key meeting.
   
4. Outcomes, if rapport is the critical factor when in the training room outcomes are the critical element in designing and evaluating an effective
training event. Prior to the course I had always included course learning objectives but well formed outcomes required a lot more thought. They are defined in terms of what attendees will do differently once they have the training on board. This leads to two sets of outcomes; one for the course and one for the attendees. The course outcomes set up the skills that need to be developed in order to allow the attendees to achieve the course outcomes described.  So a set of specific outcomes defining the experiences attendees need to have in order to get them to the course outcomes is a further level of detail.  The other and probably more important part of the
an outcome which has to be in place for me now is the attendee outcomes. Prior to training I now ask for all attendees to develop their own outcomes for the course and to send them to me and these are them included as part of the course outcomes.      
5. That improving my delivery style was important if I wanted to reach all of my attendees more effectively. After 30 years of training I thought that I had a pretty good style and sure enough the other attendees who were providing me with feedback did like my relaxed and confident approach. There was so much more to think about, I moved about a lot, with no real benefit to the attendees. My speech delivery was quick, now I knew this but not how much more effective I could be by slowing done occasionally and maintaining pace at other times. There were over 40 separate elements that we used to obse4rve and feedback to each other and I found this level of observation and feedback to be very beneficial if challenging at first.
At this point I realised that my game really needed a complete overhaul rather than a few tweaks.
I also realised that this overhaul would require me to change everything I did from top to toe and this insight was both energising and scary. 
This has been a long and, for me a very productive journey so if this has interested you tune in for part two soon.
Cheers, nick  
                       
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