“Oh, grey hair is good!” I was looking with surprise at my colleague, who had just been telling me how happy I should be about my first few grey hairs. This happened 2.5 years ago when I started my career as a Trainer & Consultant at MDF. As you might imagine, all I was thinking at that moment was that I am too young for grey hair!
This colleague triggered me with her statement that “in many contexts people will take you more seriously as a trainer.” The comment had two lasting effects:
- I now try to appreciate every single new grey hair that I spot.
- While this comment only confirmed my initial worry that participants might not take me seriously due to my age, it challenged me to think about how to overcome this worry.
Obviously, there can be various reasons for having this doubt. For example, being the only women among a room of 15 men, or being not dressed properly compared to the participants, all wearing suits and ties. Inspired by discussions on empowerment within our training on Advocacy and Policy Influencing, I have translated different expressions of power to boost my confidence as a trainer. Keeping these in mind can help to deliver a successful training and avoid nervosity while standing in front of the group.
The participants identified certain learning needs and decided to arrange training. This means that they want somebody to facilitate this learning process, and they chose me! I thus remind myself that I automatically have authority simply due to my role as a trainer and that I got this job for a certain reason.
Tip: You can strengthen your position and visibility as a trainer in your field through profiling your expertise; for example, write a blog or make a vlog about your expertise!
I have the potential to shape the success of the training through continuously developing my own capacity regarding my thematic expertise as well as my trainer skills. I know for example, when I prepare well and invest time in developing trainer notes, it is much easier to respond to difficult questions or situations and I am able to adapt my programme on the spot.
Tip: Make sure that you are up to date on the training topic and ask for feedback regularly from colleagues and participants to identify your own learning needs.
People are usually equally interested in learning from their peers who work in similar contexts as they are in learning from the trainer. I always use all of the knowledge available in the training room. In case one participant seems to have more expertise on a specific topic and is challenging me in front of the group, I simply acknowledge the expert as a resource person.
Tip: Instead of delivering a long lecture, driving all of the attention to yourself, design your training based on interactive training methods and the Experiential Learning Cycle.
Last but not least, it comes down to: “Believe in yourself and your expertise!” If I believe in a method and know why I have chosen this over another, also my participants will notice this and trust me. Even the group with the senior management staff will then be motivated to walk around blindfolded to learn about leadership styles.
Tip: Researcher Amy Cuddy has shown that adopting a power pose will boost your confidence. Before your next session sneak into the bathroom and stand like SuperWoMen for 2 minutes.