I often get asked what my best advice is for new trainers. There are obviously a lot of lessons I would love to share with new trainers (and experienced trainers) based on all the mistakes I have made and the lessons I have learned over the past 27 years of delivering law enforcement training. That is why I write this blog, teach the Excellence in Training workshops and course and why I started the Excellence in Training Academy.
If I had to boil it down to one or two key pieces of advice they would be:
- Be yourself.
- Remember it is not about you.
I was reminded at the recent ILEETA Conference in St. Louis and again yesterday at the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Leadership Conference (where I had the privilege of speaking on the topic of Dare to Be Great: Leading Through Crisis) that there is no one “best” speaking style.
The ILEETA conference is a smorgasbord of great training classes taught by a wide variety of trainers. Some trainers are very demonstrative and extremely high energy while others are more quiet and cerebral. Some use a lot of videos, others use none. Some sessions involved a lot of small group work while others had very little. Some were hands on classes and others were strictly classroom sessions. The trainers ran the full spectrum of teaching styles, and all were effective in their own way.
The theme of this years CACP Leadership Conference is Leading Through Crisis and yesterday on Day 1 there were four main speakers addressing the audience of approximately 680 law enforcement leaders. The number of slides in the 75 minute presentations ranged from 8 to 102 (I used 102). Three of the four used PowerPoint or Keynote, one did not. Two of the presenters used videos in their presentation and two of us did not. One stood behind the lectern on the stage, one stood in one place during his presentation (he was on immediately following the opening ceremonies and the stage configuration left him little room to move around) and two of us prowled the stage. Two of us used a handheld mic, one used the mic on the lectern and one used a lapel mic. All four speakers were themselves, all were very different in our presentation styles and all four resonated with the audience. Day 2 has an impressive lineup of speakers, including one whose bio includes, “Being voted #1 in Top 25 Speaker Awards for 2016, sharing the honor with Nobel Prize winners.” (I am glad I spoke the day before him). Looking at their bios and topics I know they will all be different, and I am sure they will all be engaging and that each will resonate with the audience in a different way.
While their styles differ dramatically, the best trainers and speakers are comfortable being themselves.
It is Not About You
It is easy when you are standing at the front of the room, or on a stage in front of 680 people, to think it is about you (especially after listening to someone read that impressive bio you wrote). If you get drawn into thinking it is about you however, you will fail to serve the audience. It has to be about the people in the group you are speaking with or providing training to. As best selling author and presentation specialist Nancy Duarte says, “You need to make the audience the hero. Your job is to serve as the wise and humble mentor.” Remember that teaching, training and speaking are a privilege and your mission is to serve the audience by providing them with useful information or skills they can use to make them better in some aspect of their life.
My best advice to new speakers? Show up with a heart of service and be yourself.
I should note here that great speakers, while they are comfortable being themselves, are always striving to be a better version of themselves so they can best serve the heroes they have the privilege and honour of training.
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