One of the major obstacles facing new trainers is their fear of facing an audience. They are afraid that some unexpected situation might arise during the training which they might not be able to face. They fear that some difficult participant might misbehave and they won’t be able to deal with such a situation. They fear to face a large audience. They fear of losing control of the class.
All such fears of starting trainers are legit. A further fear of starting trainers is the fear of making mistakes during training.
First of all, new trainers must know that it is totally OK for a trainer to make mistakes during training even for experienced trainers. Attempting to deliver training that is absolutely free of any mistakes whatsoever is not realistically possible and actually puts too much strain on the trainer making it difficult or even impossible for him to deliver training effectively.
Secondly, novice trainers should be aware of common difficulties that might face a trainer during a training session and learn how to deal with each, such as dealing with difficult participants, handling difficult questions and knowing what to do when the video projector is not working or the flip chart is missing.
Armed with such knowledge and the knowledge that it is OK for the trainer to make some mistakes during training, a trainer can enter the training room with lots of confidence.
As for the part related to fear of facing an audience, this can be overcome through repeated practice first by speaking in front of friends and family members then in front of larger and larger groups. This activity done repeatedly and gradually helps greatly increase trainer confidence.
An additional method to build trainer confidence is through visualization. A trainer can start imagining himself delivering the training session and answering trainee questions one day before the actual delivery of the training. This visualization technique is very powerful and helps boost trainer confidence. The beauty of this method is that it can be done at any time and in any place without the need to get an actual audience. It is also considered the safest environment to practice in.
Through repeated practice and visualization combined with the knowledge of dealing with difficult situations and the flexibility to accept making mistakes, a new trainer can start climbing up the ladder of ever growing confidence.
What other methods can be used to overcome shyness and fear of facing a live audience?
Delivering Training Makes you Happy
One of the interesting things a new trainer experiences after delivering a training session is a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Mental and psychological stability result from delivering a training session. A sense of serenity and internal happiness fills the trainer after delivering a training session. This could be contrasted with the high stress and anxiety a new trainer might be feeling before delivering the session. The new trainer at first might not be aware that such feelings of happiness and fulfillment are a normal part of delivering training. He or she might think that this session they had just been delivering in particular was unique in providing them with such awesome positive feelings. An experienced trainer however is well aware of the fact that despite the high energy needed for delivering a training session yet almost all sessions provide the trainer with a fulfilling sense of happiness after he or she delivers them even if he feels exhausted on the physical level.
When Things Go Wrong
Of course I am assuming here that the training session turned on well and that participants were happy about it. If on the other hand the trainer faced situations of difficult participants that he was unable to handle or handled with aggression in such cases this would probably leave a negative mark in the heart and mind of the trainer right after the training session and even for some time after it which could last for days or even weeks.
Speaking While Others Listen
One of the reasons behind a deep feeling of happiness and fulfillment a trainer usually feels after delivering a training session is that he speaks in a training session in front of an audience that are attentively listening to him or her. This act in itself is what provides the trainer with psychological satisfaction. The act of speaking in itself and exercising one’s mental powers is similar to going to the gym, you might feel physically exhausted after a long and difficult session at the gym but you will at the same time experience a deep sense of happiness and fulfillment.
Have you experienced this deep sense of serenity and fulfillment before after speaking in front of a live audience or explaining something to others? Tell us the story.
One way of improving one’s skill or overcoming resistance to performing something perceived as being difficult by a person is to first attempt doing it in a protected environment or in a slighter way.
For instance, a person who is afraid to speak in front of a live audience can first try speaking in front of his friends. He may then try speaking repeatedly in front of a small audience. After many repetitions that are stress free speaking in front of a small audience with confidence this person can then move on to speaking in front of a larger audience.
The repeated experiences he had speaking in front of his friends and in front of a small audience will help build his confidence with in a protected environment. If on the other hand he had went directly from total shyness to facing a large audience from the first time this may have caused him extreme phobia and would not have helped him overcome his fear nor gain any positive experience to build his confidence.
Another example is when taking driving lessons. One should learn first in a protected area or on side streets that have low traffic. Mastery of driving should be gained on such streets first. After a good period of time and practice driving on such low traffic streets one can then move ahead to drive in more busy streets. The reason behind this is not just to avoid fatal accidents but also to allow the learner to gain skill in the basic driving techniques without being overwhelmed by too much to deal with at the same time.
Learning a New Language
A third example is when learning a new language. It is a good idea that a teacher would first use a controlled set of vocabulary before widening it up to a larger set so that the student can be able to absorb the language and handle it in a manageable way rather than being overwhelmed from the beginning with an endless flow of unintelligible new vocabulary.
Complex and Difficult Things
Although not everything that needs to be learned must be learnt in a protected environment first for best results, yet there exists many things that do. Mostly such things are those that are complex or difficult and for which the learner has great resistance towards or fear from attempting to do.
What have you managed to learn in the past using the protected environment method and eventually became proficient in?