We’ve all been there: you’ve just got the training session started and someone wants to make a comment designed to make sure you know that they are extremely knowledgeable about the topic and that they will be sharing their knowledge as much as possible with everyone. That person can either be an asset or an annoyance for the rest of the session depending upon how you handle them. Here are some of my tips to stop you pulling your hair out during the session.
Define the boundaries
Make it clear at the start when it is fine for people to make comments and ask questions and when you would prefer them to wait so that the flow of the session is not interrupted. Try to be firm and polite about enforcing it. You might use the idea of the ‘car park’ or ‘fridge’ where questions or thoughts can be ‘parked’ or ‘chilled’ until an appropriate time.
Use training tools
By using techniques such as think-pair-share or snowball fight you give everyone a chance for their ideas to be heard. These can prevent the one person from dominating while still allowing them to share their ideas.
Get them on your side
Ask for their input at relevant points acknowledging their expertise. You want them to be on your side as an ally rather than an enemy.
Use directed questioning
Consider using directed questioning to allow you to ask a variety of people for their input. You can even pull names from a hat or use an internet spin the wheel to make it a bit more exciting and random. If you don’t know the group well enough for this, ask directed tables. You might even give out props such as coloured sticks or keywords and ask for someone with a red stick to answer or someone with a word related to sales (keywords can be tailored to the group). This allows for some direction but takes pressure away from individuals.
Value every opinion
If the person has a different opinion from your own, then take a moment to consider it and acknowledge its value. You may both be right, or it may depend upon the circumstances. Think about whether you have time to debate the topic and whether the debate would be useful to the group as a whole. It’s easy to be drawn into a long discussion that isn’t of value to anyone and doesn’t resolve anything. You may gain confidence by explaining what evidence your opinion is based on and why you feel it is valid without taking anything away from their opinion. This may be a good time to use the ‘car park’ or ‘fridge’ if you need to get on with the rest of the session. You could offer to continue the discussion at the end of the day or at a break.
Have confidence in yourself
Remember that you are the one who is leading the training session and you are also an expert in the subject. It’s easy to let another expert’s presence erode your confidence but make sure you retain control of the session. After all, you’re the one being paid to deliver the training!
I hope you find some of these tips useful when you’re in the training room. If you would like to find out more about the training I offer or read other tips, please get in touch.