10 Tips to control your nerves when delivering training
Do you have sweaty palms, a dry mouth and shaky legs before you start delivering training? Are you finding it hard to control your nerves? I was definitely nervous when I started delivering training years ago. Since then, I delivered hundreds of training sessions and I still feel a bit of (good) tension before I kick off. I don’t mind, it helps me to be alert and perform better as a trainer.
Delivering training to your colleagues or total strangers is not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’. Not many people like to stand in front of a group and are fabulous trainers from the start. With my 10 tips you will feel more in control of your nerves and able to focus on your learners and the course content.
- 1. Be prepared
When you are well prepared for your training, it will help you to relax. And with preparation, I don’t mean thinking about 100 things that can go wrong. But simply knowing your course content and course structure. Make a checklist what to bring to the training and have a lesson plan.
- 2. Dress to impress
The last thing to worry about should be what you’re wearing. Don’t wear clothes that you haven’t worn before. Make sure you look good and dress appropriately. This also applies to your footwear. And don’t dress too warm: you’ll be warm due to your nerves and will be moving around in the room. Training delivery can be hard work, so wear a layer that you can take off, like a jacket, shawl or cardigan.
- 3. Arrive early
You want to avoid running into a training room full of learners and having to start with the training session immediately. Allow yourself extra time to get to the training venue as both traffic and public transport can be busy. It will give you time to set up the training room to suit your needs and test your AV equipment.
- 4. Breathe
Focussing on your breathing is a good way to relax and manage your nerves. Try to breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for 3-5 counts and then breathe out via your mouth (yes, you can try it now). When you repeat this a few times, you will feel better and more relaxed.
- 5. Relax
Before you start your course, take a few minutes to relax. Do your breathing exercise, thing about something nice, or hum your favourite song. Look around the room, make eye contact with the learners and think: Yes, I can do this!
- 6. Build rapport with the learners
When learners start coming into the training room, welcome them and have a chat. They might be nervous too. It will help both of you to relax and build rapport. I prefer to draw a layout of the room and write down their names as soon as they sit down. Knowing the learners’ names quickly will earn you a few ‘brownie points’. Don’t get distracted by that one person that doesn’t want to be in the course. Start with focusing your energy on the others.
- 7. Stand steady and move around
A trainer who is standing in front of the room shows more authority and will get more attention than the one who is sitting while presenting. So get off your chair and stand with your feet a bit further apart. That will make you feel more grounded. Moving around in the room will also help you to relax but try to find the right balance.
- 8. Set house rules
When you are starting as a trainer, you might get distracted when learners are asking questions all the time or are checking their phone. If that’s the case, set some house rules together with the group before you dive into the content. Simple rules about phone use, arriving back in time after a break and when you would love to hear and answer their questions, will take away some of your stress.
- 9. Be confident
This might sound strange when you are nervous, but the attendees are coming to your course to learn from you! You’re the expert. Trust your expertise and your skills. You are prepared and ready to share your knowledge. Also realise that it is not an issue if you don’t have the answer to every question. Admit that you don’t know everything (you’re not an encyclopaedia) and promise to get back to them with an answer. That could be after a break or by email after the training.
- 10. Ask questions
As a trainer, I absolutely love a lot of interaction in a course and most learners do too. Why not ask the learners questions, initiate a discussion and give them activities to do. It will take the pressure of you and create a better learning experience and a more relaxed learning environment.
I hope you’ll give training a go with these tips. Please, don’t let your nerves hold you back from delivering training. It might take some time to manage your nerves and start enjoying it. Just be proud every time you conquer your nerves and get out there! What’s the worst thing that could happen?