Imagine delivering a training course to delegates who are half sleep. Is there any point in carrying on? Sure enough, you still get paid for the current session; but surely that’s not your only aim when providing training.
Providing a training course is very much like playing a game. You want to win not just once, but repeatedly. When it comes to winning a particular game (say a board game such as Risk), your aim is not to win only once. Anyone can do that. You could get lucky, you could cheat or you could get away with other people’s mistakes, ignorance or simply lack of interest in the game.
The problem with this mentality is that soon, you will not have any more games to play. People will remember you as the dodgy, cheating player so they will stay away from you or will all gang up against you to make sure that you lose.
Why Training is Like a Game
If delivering a course only once, you could get away with a whole lot of mistakes or rely on the fact that delegates won’t care about attending any of your courses. After all, if they are not going to attend another course, they may not care how you perform in them. They may not like the current experience, but will certainly not be worried about any future attendance, because they already know it will not happen.
They just watch the clock and aim to leave the course as soon as they are allowed to do so.
The strategy used by the game players who win repeatedly will allow you to build up a reputation and make a name for yourself based on your performance.
Let’s see how this works in the game world. When a player becomes a well-known master gamer in a particular game, people feel privileged to play against him. Other players know that they will be challenged and that they need to be totally focused in order to have any chance in winning a game against the master.
This focus and attention allows people to compete and learn at the same time while enjoying the entire experience. Even if they lose, they might still think they lost a good game and appreciate the experience.
Do Not Be Afraid to Challenge Delegates
How does this translate to the training world? If you deliver a training course that challenges delegates and pushes them to the limit but at the same time is entertaining and memorable, you will win their hearts.
And you should be able to do this repeatedly, course after course.
Having attended your superbly delivered training course, attendees will talk about their experience with their families and friends for months or even years to come. This is particularly applicable to soft skills courses. Satisfied delegates will explain passionately how they were challenged, how their current habits and mentality were questioned and how much they have learned from the experience.
Impressed delegates will not complain how hard they had to work in the class, or how long it took them to figure it out. They will not comment on whether they were fast or slow or whether they were as good as other delegates or not. What matters most to people is that they had a turning point; a shift in their mentality. That they didn’t know the idea before the course and afterwards, they got it.
For many, this can turn into the beginning of a series of changes in habits and lifestyle. Delegates can become passionate about the new skill you have taught them and take it further. If it is a soft skill, they may fundamentally change their habits to accommodate the new skill. If it is a technical skill, they might become passionate in the new subject and focus on it as a new favourite hobby. Some may even switch careers as a result of their training experience.
Either way it all starts from you, the trainer, and your performance in making delegates experience a one of a kind event. To feel privileged to have been present in your course and end up experiencing some profound insight into something new.
This kind of performance will make you immortal in your delegate’s eyes. You and what you teach could be remembered forever.
Learn from the Masters
If you study master trainers, you will see that this is precisely what they do and they do it with such intensity that turns them into celebrities and rich beyond dreams.
Take Anthony Robbins for example. The author of many successful books, he became internationally famous for his three-day marathon course “Unleash the Power Within” on motivation and life skills.
In this course he gets people to walk over fire barefoot!
His aim was to memorably demonstrate that to achieve greatness people had to take action. To show that an achievement may not be straight forward or can be daunting, he got them to walk over fire to prove that they could do almost anything if they wanted to.
Now consider what would people recall from this course if they were led to walk on fire for the first time in their lives which is usually the case for most people. They will remember the event forever. They will tell everyone about it. They feel privileged for the chance to participate and be present in such an event.
At the beginning of the course, Robbins told his delegates that the three-day course will prepare them for this challenging task. But he knew that throughout the course many would be preoccupied with the thought of this experience and get distracted. So by the end of first day of the course he would surprise the attendees by getting them to walk on fire rather than at the end of the third day.
Caught off guard, many thought they couldn’t do it as if they had to be prepared by the course to be able to go through this experience. But Robbins wanted to demonstrate that anyone could achieve greatness and all it takes is the willingness to take action; literally to take a first step.
Despite the fact that the course was attended by hundreds of people, he famously helped everyone to finish the task and personally saw to it that every single person walked over fire successfully.
That experience will surely be remembered by all participants.
Much like a master gamer, Tony Robbins had challenged, taught and entertained his delegates and they will remember him and his course for a long time if not forever.
Aim to deliver all of your courses as if you are a master gamer who is here to play, to teach, to entertain, to challenge and to make the experience one of the most memorable events in the opponents’ (or delegates’) lives.