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How to become a trainer - and make lots of $$$


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This presentation was delivered at the STC Summit 2005 in Seattle. Jobs for technical authors were hard to find, and I tried to show people what you can do with your technical communication skills if you also know how to explain stuff to a live audience. Sorry that the gradient applied to the background does not show on SlideShare.

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How to become a trainer - and make lots of $$$

  1. 1. How to become a technical trainer......and earn lots of $$$ Jang F.M. Graat travelling philosopher
  2. 2. Who’s talking ? Born in the Netherlands and still living there Studied Applied Physics, Psychology and Philosophy Self-made professional Started IF UnLtd in 1994, after being out of a job but still in demand 15 years experience All-rounder in Tech. Com.
  3. 3. Do you need to change ? Have you lost your job or expect to lose it soon ? Do you need a new challenge to not fall asleep ? Is your job or boss slowly making you mad ? Are you not making enough money ?
  4. 4. Is training something for you ? Do you like to explain stuff to people ? Do you like to travel and eat out ? Are you loyal to users or to the product ? Are you willing to learn as you go along ?
  5. 5. Qualities you will need Communication skills Expertise Empathy Creativity Confidence Patience !
  6. 6. Practice communication skills A clear, loud enough, speaking voice  Don’t forget to breathe ! Being able to listen to your audience  Listen, even when you are speaking Keep your language clear & concise  Don’t make too long sentences, as these only cause the people in your audience to lose track and let their minds wander off (as you may have noticed by now)
  7. 7. Be an expert, to some extent You should feel at home in the subject  Understanding is better than knowing  Gather more info than you will need  Use the breaks to talk/listen to your audience, and learn as they tell you about their work Concentrate on the concepts  You don’t need to know all the details  You cannot teach the audience all the details  The audience doesn’t need to know all details
  8. 8. Understand user’s problems Remember: you are here for the user  Tell them this at the beginning of your course Relate to, but don’t drown in problems  Refer lengthy discussions to the breaks Be aware of hidden agendas  “This new technology is not good for us”  “This must be really difficult to learn”  “This is way too easy for me”
  9. 9. Use your creativity Give imaginative examples…  Examples should really clarify concepts  Use everyday-life examples when possible  Case studies work best in practice sessions …but keep your imagination in check  Don’t make the examples too wild  Don’t waste your time on tiny details  When you get lost, abort and retry
  10. 10. Have confidence in your skills Concentrate on the subject, not on yourself  Your attention guides the listeners’ attention  Minimize wasting attention on anything else Relax: they are not going to kill you  The users are here to learn something  If you need a minute, propose a short break Whatever happens: don’t panic !!!  If you don’t know, then why not admit it ?
  11. 11. Be patient … … … … … ! Every user is smart until proven stupid  Don’t take any knowledge for granted  Don’t look down on people who don’t get it You should have patience, not the users  Don’t keep them waiting after a break  Don’t disappear without telling them that you are going to be back soon (and be back soon)  When it gets hard, remember who pays you…
  12. 12. do you still want tobecome a technical trainer ?No -> you can leave the room quietly Yes -> stay for the practical stuff
  13. 13. What we are going to cover Communication Attention Body language Technology Preparation
  14. 14. Communication (1) Webster’s dictionary:  “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs”  “passage, or an opportunity or means of passage, between places”
  15. 15. Communication (2) Common, implicit (and incorrect) model  The meanings of words are fixed, defined  Meanings do not change when communicated  If someone doesn’t understand it, he or she is dumb
  16. 16. Communication (3) We usually misunderstand each other  Communication is (re)construction of meanings  Reconstruction depends on previous knowledge  As long as everything “fits”, we believe we have understood exactly what the speaker meant
  17. 17. Communication (4) Natural logic (J-B. Grize)  Everyone (re)constructs models in their minds  Speaker, audience, and subject models  Various possible “speech positions”  Every phrase changes the reconstructed models
  18. 18. Communication (5) “So, how does this help me ?”  Be aware of possible differences in understanding  Define terms and concepts and repeat them  Use simplified examples to clarify the concepts  Test if your audience has understood
  19. 19. Attention (1) Latin: ad and tendere - “reaching for”  When you watch something, your attention reaches out toward it. As soon as your curiosity is satisfied, your attention is released and moves elsewhere.  To concentrate is to control your attention
  20. 20. Attention (2) Your attention guides the audience  Captivating an audience is done by taking control of their full attention: make it interesting !  Actively retrieve the attention of the audience after breaks or when moving to the next subject
  21. 21. Attention (3) Attention makes the object bigger & brighter  Place your attention on the goal, not on the problem  Stressing complexity leaves the audience puzzled  Your attention must be on the subject matter, not on anything else (incertainty, your clothing, etc.)
  22. 22. Attention (4) An interesting attention exercise  Two people facing each other, holding hands tightly; third person tries to break through this barrier  Attention on the barrier > only seems to get stronger  Attention on the goal > much easier to break through
  23. 23. Attention (5) When using computers for practical work:  Have all computers - except your own - switched off before the students enter the room  Switch between presentations (with computers off) and practical sessions (which end with a break)
  24. 24. Body language (1) Make yourself comfortable  Don’t sit down for your presentation  Make sure to be rested, relieved, relaxed  It helps to “inspect” the room before you’re on; make sure you know where everything is located
  25. 25. Body language (2) Be your relaxed self  It’s OK to show that you’re alive !  Move around, but not too much  If you gesture or point at something, make sure the entire audience can see it
  26. 26. Technology (1) Make a professional impression  Don’t stick to old stuff that no-one takes seriously  But: use high-tech stuff only when it adds something  Be confident but not bragging about it  Have the title slide up when people enter the room
  27. 27. Technology (2) Don’t mess around with technology  You should be the focus of the audience’s attention  Don’t use gadgets if you can do without  If a live demo is too complex, then make screenshots that show the steps in your slides (and hand-outs)  Don’t get bogged down by the details
  28. 28. Technology (3) Make sure your system works  Prepare before your students come in  Do not use examples that you do not know  Pack any accessory you may need (cables !)  Always have a plan B prepared and ready to run
  29. 29. Preparation (1) Prepare your own materials  You should know what is coming next  The slides should support, not lead your presentation  When doing practical sessions: make sure your examples are absolutely flawless
  30. 30. Preparation (2) Know what to expect  What is the knowledge level of your audience ?  What are the goals your audience may hold ?  When doing practical sessions: what are the problems the students may run into ?
  31. 31. Preparation (3) Prepare the mind-set of your audience  First explain the course structure and your “rules”  Tell them this course is theirs, not yours, and they should make sure to get from it what they need  Tell them what they can expect to achieve / learn
  32. 32. thanks for your attention if you need further coaching,check my website and contact me