Visualization

Driving Lessons

My progress was slow after a couple of driving lessons. My driving instructor was simply unimpressed. I was still slow at shifting the gear correctly and often got confused on which way to move the gear stick. I was not happy about that. I still had more driving lessons to take though. For the sake of not embarrassing myself once again in front of the driving instructor, I decided to work on my gear shifting skills before the time for the following driving lesson came.

Visualizing

The interesting thing was that I had decided to practice gear shifting through visualization and not by actually getting into the car, holding the gear stick and moving it while holding down the clutch with my left foot. I had not heard before about visualization being used in practicing driving. Maybe it was, but I simply had never heard about it. I told myself to just give it a try and see the results. I did not expect much but thought to just give it a try.

Stunning Progress

Time for my following driving lesson came. I was stunned by my performance. I was able to make gear shifts rapidly and correctly without any hesitation or mistakes! I managed to surprise myself and my driving instructor who was impressed after having almost lost hope due to my poor performance and slow progress during the preceding driving lessons.

Visualization Technique

The way I had been practicing driving just before that lesson was by closing my eyes, imagining that my right hand was holding the gear stick and giving myself instructions on which gear to shift to by simply giving myself a number. So for instance I said to myself “first” and started to visualize myself moving my right hand while holding the gear stick to the place for the first gear. Then I said to myself “second” and visualized myself shifting the gear stick to the position of the second gear. Then I said “first” then “second” then “third” then “second” and so on each time visualizing myself making a gear shift. I did all that while closing my eyes in the comfort and safety of my own home. The results of such practice far exceeded my expectations as I have mentioned above.

Training of Trainers

Visualization can also be used by a trainer to prepare for a training session before actually delivering it. This technique can be used by experienced as well as novice trainers alike. It can be used more thoroughly by novice trainers though to help them overcome their fear of facing a live audience. The beauty of such technique is that it allows you to practice in a protected safe environment. Any mistakes you will make will not have negative consequences. This very concept of zero negative consequences gives you the courage and confidence to go in full force and perform superbly well during visualization. When the time comes for the real thing you feel as if you have done it before while in fact you had only been visualizing doing it.

Doing Vs. Visualizing

It makes almost no difference to the brain whether you are actually doing something or visualizing doing it. For the brain, the two have the same effect. Let’s say someone remembers a sad incident. This memory might cause him to cry. Or someone thinks about the negative possibilities of something bad happening, this can cause his whole physical body to be disturbed. A person who is afraid from heights might experience strong negative signs in his physical body just by visualizing himself getting close to the edge of a high building and falling. the physical body reacts to all such visualizations in a similar fashion to its reaction to them had they been actually happening in real life.

Your Turn

Visualization is a very powerful technique that can be used to practice just about almost anything within a comfortable, protected and safe environment. So next time you are working on improving a skill why not try having part of your practice in the form of visualization? You might just surprise yourself with the results in the same way I have during the time I was taking driving lessons.

Have you ever tried to practice something through visualization? If so, tell use about it.

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Peer Feedback Boosts Performance

Feedback and Performance

One powerful means for improving one’s performance and learning is getting feedback on his current performance in order to be able to act upon such feedback and improve his performance. During a training session it is crucial that the trainer provides useful and balanced feedback to trainees as he observes their performance as they go through various training activities completing numerous tasks. In addition to receiving feedback from the trainer, it is highly useful that a trainee receives feedback from his colleagues as well.

Mutual Benefit

When the trainer asks trainees to provide feedback to each other both the receiver and the provider of the feedback benefit a lot. The provider of the feedback gets a chance to carefully examine the performance of his partner and come up with conclusions in addition to communicating such conclusions to his partner. This makes him see clearly how good performance can be like and what to avoid. The trainee on the receiving end of course benefits from the feedback given to him by his partner in seeing his performance more clearly through the eyes of someone else which helps him further improve his performance next time he is carrying out a similar activity.

Positive Language

When providing feedback one has to be positive and use positive language. If the provider of feedback tries to show off his superiority by attempting to find all large and small mistakes in the performance of a trainee and expresses them in a strong negative language this may overwhelm the person receiving the feedback and totally shatter any kind of self confidence he might have had to the extent of disabling him completely from improving at all in the future in some cases. Feedback therefore must be balanced and the wording of the feedback itself should be all positive.

Graphic Facilitation

During a graphic facilitation workshop I had attended, the trainers asked participants to pair up and provide one another with feedback about their drawings. We were asked to first list 3 positive aspects of the drawings then after that mention 3 improvements that can be made. We notice here that one should always start first with the positive when providing feedback. Even when the time comes for pointing out the negative this should be done using positive words such as labeling them as “suggested improvements” rather than “mistakes” or “negative points.” Such feedback that uses all positive language not only informs the feedback receiver but also boosts his self confidence and enables him to drastically improve his performance.

Training of Trainers

When delivering training of trainers (TOT) workshops I ask participants to first list the positive points they see in demos of their colleagues then suggest improvements after that. Sometimes if the main aim is to boost trainee confidence one can ask for positive feedback only and prohibit any feedback on negative points for the time being.

Conclusion

Although receiving feedback from the trainer can be highly useful yet having trainees exchange feedback can be more so. Peer feedback also allows lots of feedback to be provided simultaneously in a short period of time in the case of pairing trainees with one another or dividing them into groups.

Engaging Participants with Storytelling

Training of Trainers

I was once delivering a training of trainers course. One of the participants was already an experienced trainer who was herself delivering training of trainers courses yet decided to attend my training to see how I delivered that course. During one of the sessions of the course, I asked participants to provide a brief 10-minute demo of workshops they are preparing. That participant, who is already a trainer, raised her hand to have a go at providing a demo of her workshop. I allowed her other colleagues to take turns first then signaled to her to come present her demo.

Incomplete Story

She came and stood in front of her colleagues with great confidence, briefly introducing herself by mentioning her name then mentioning the title of her workshop. She then proceeded directly to telling a story related to the subject of her workshop. It was an actual story that had taken place long ago and contained powerful lessons within it.

The assigned 10-minutes for the demo came to an end and I signaled to her to stop. She had not completed the story and wanted to continue. I told her that time was already over. Many participants pleaded and begged me to let her continue with the story she had started. They were so eager to listen to the rest of the story to know what happened next. Nevertheless, I refused her extra time so that she would learn how to manage her time better next time despite the many pleadings I got from her colleagues who had been following her story with full attention and deep engagement.

After she went back to her seat, I praised the technique she used during her demo which was storytelling. I pointed out to participants of the training of trainers course the fact that they were fully engaged with the story she was narrating and how they were dying to have her continue it. This experience showed everyone how engaging storytelling can be.

Lasting Effect

Storytelling is a very powerful technique that can be used by the trainer during a training session not only to deeply engage participants but also to achieve a deep lasting effect and induce a strong learning experience. The human mind is designed to handle stories exceptionally well in terms of attention, retention, digestion, reflection, deduction and later practical use of the information in and deductions from such stories.

Types of Stories

The most effective kind of story is one the trainer has experienced himself and was part of. The second best are real stories the trainer had heard or read about. A third type of story, still very effective, is fictional stories that make a point or provide specific lessons.

Conclusion

No matter what the training is about, a competent trainer can make good use of the storytelling technique to achieve deep engagement of participants and a strong and lasting learning experience. A trainer may even allow and encourage participants to use storytelling themselves during their presentations or as part of other training activities during a training session.

Is there a story that has changed your life after you listened to it or read about it? Tell use about it.

Trainer’s Self Feedback Notebook

The Self Feedback Notebook

If there is one thing that has continually improved my skill in delivering training it is the self feedback notebook. After completing each training course I sat down with a pen and my self feedback notebook trying to squeeze my brain and come up with any comments or discoveries I had for the training course I have just completed delivering.

I write my comments or feedback in the form of points after writing at the top of the page the name of the training course and the date. The process of writing down my comments and discoveries from the training course is mentally demanding and brain intensive.

Fresh Feedback

It is best to carry out this process right after the training course is complete preferably even on the same day when everything is still fresh in your mind. Waiting for a few days after the training course has been finished may make you forget and loose a lot of the valuable comments and lessons learnt during the training course.

Tagging

After completing the list of points I then go through them once again this time writing +ve or -ve next to each one of them to identify if it is something I did good during the training or something I should be changing.

Repeated Courses

Even if I am delivering the same training course once again but to a different group of trainees I made a new listing in the notebook for it with its own set of comment points.

Refreshing Memory

Before delivering a new training course I found it to be extremely useful to have a look in that self feedback notebook to refresh my memory on positive and negative things I had done while delivering previous training courses.

Condensing

I have later typed what was in my notebook on computer then grouped similar points together and condensed everything after analyzing all the self feedback points. This has become the backbone of my training of trainers course and the knowledge base for my training.

Sharing

Finally, sharing such knowledge that I had gained through the years with others completes the loop of learning for me and helps me improved even further.

Beyond Trainee Feedback

It is important to note that the self feedback points should not be confined to feedback you get from trainees in the +ve and -ve sheets but expanded to your own personal observations and discoveries as you deliver the training course. You can even write such self feedback points before looking at the feedback sheets from trainees.

Your Turn

Finally, I would like to advise you to start a self feedback notebook of your own and expend the needed effort it takes to write in it after each training course you deliver in order to keep developing and rising as a trainer in a continual upward spiral.

How do you keep record of your own performance during delivering training or of lessons and insights you have gained from the training process?

Overcoming Novice Trainer Fear of Facing a Live Audience

Trainer Fear

One of the biggest obstacles a new trainer faces is overcoming his or her shyness and fear of facing a live audience and standing in front of trainees to handle and manage a training session. Usually a person who faces such a challenge in an extreme way, to the extent that it prevents him or her completely from being able to take the move and stand in front of an audience, usually such a person is afraid that he or she might make a mistake.

Negative Ideas

All sorts of negative ideas jump in his or her mind such as that he will be asked a difficult question that he will not be able to answer or that one of the trainees would make a disruptive behavior or that the trainees would break out of control completely or any other extreme negative thoughts.

Mistakes are OK

The first step to solve this issue is to understand and fully believe that it is totally OK for a trainer, be he novice or experienced, to make mistakes during training. The trick is to be able to act in a confident way even in case of making a mistake. The knowledge of this idea and the belief in it puts down a huge burden from the shoulders of such would-be trainers and provides them with a great deal of calmness.

Difficult Situations

Being aware of the various difficult situations a trainer might be facing, such as the ones mentioned above, and learning how to deal with them also makes the new trainer more confident in entering the training room and carrying out the training.

Visualization

After changing the flawed belief that a professional trainer never makes mistakes during training, an additional technique to build trainer confidence is through visualization. One day before delivering the training session the trainer can start visualizing himself or herself actually delivering the training session, answering trainee questions, dealing with difficult participants and speaking in front of the audience with confidence. When the actual time for the real session comes, the trainer will find himself full of confidence and will be able to deliver the training well.

Practicing

Practice makes perfect. The more the novice trainer attempts to practice facing a live audience the better he would become and the more confident he will be. He can start first with facing people he knows well and facing small groups then building up to larger groups of total strangers. Using this protected environment approach can help the novice trainer overcome his fears and gain the needed confidence to face a live audience.

Controlled Anxiety

Finally, the novice trainer should understand that it is totally OK to feel some anxiety and nervousness prior to delivering a training session in particular if he is about to deliver it to a new audience at a new place and the training course is a new course that he is delivering for the first time.

This never means that such a trainer is not competent. The only important thing is that the trainer in such a case is able to keep such anxiety internal and not make it show to the outside audience.

Conclusion

By understanding that it is OK for a trainer to make mistakes during the training or feel anxious prior to the training and by using visualization a novice trainer can learn how to overcome his or her shyness and fear of facing a live audience.

What is the most difficult situation you can imagine facing during a training session?

Clearing the Throat

Training of trainers is important. I like training of trainers. It is something good. It is important to deliver training of trainers workshops. I have been delivering training of trainers workshops at Resala. Ice barkers are important. They help trainees become more active and free. I like delivering training of trainers courses. This is a book for trainers.