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While Students are Waiting

Just before training begins, and while participants are arriving, can be a challenging time. You may start feeling nervous, and that's natural. It's important to have this time planned out.

Research has shown that the number one thing people do not want to do is present training. Most people are uncomfortable, to some degree, with public speaking even when they are experienced presenters. It's called "stage fright." Below is a two-step process for overcoming stage fright.

  1. Prepare the mind by putting everything in perspective with a little self-talk. Tell yourself students are here to learn from you, they want you to be a good trainer, because they'll learn more that way. Focus on them and making sure they understand the material. Don't worry about your performance, you're just the messenger. Deliver the message. Accept the fact that you will be nervous and, in fact, put that nervous energy into an energetic delivery.
  2. Prepare the body. Get familiar with the training environment, including the lighting, temperature, and layout of the classroom. You can do this during your practice session and also by arriving early on the day of training to check that everything is in order. Drink non-dairy fluids to soothe your vocal cords and prevent a dry or sore throat from extensive talking during the session (fluids with dairy create excess mucus, which could make it difficult to speak clearly for an extended period of time). You may also want to learn relaxation techniques and develop a standard ritual before training sessions to relax and prepare yourself.

1. According to research, most people do not want to _____.

a. express an opinion
b. drive a car
c. present training
d. be interviewed

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The Problem: Stress-Induced Anxiety

Every trainer has to conduct training the first time. We call this paying your dues. You can't get around it so you may as well not delay it.

You'll normally experience some degree of anxiety about unanswered questions as you prepare for the session, when a room full of people will focus their attention on you. Thoughts about having too much or too little time, how you look, or how your audience will like you, may cause symptoms of stress.

Symptoms of stress include:

  • Nervous stomach
  • Sweating
  • Tremors in the hands and legs
  • Faster breathing
  • Increased heart rate

The good news is that every time you present a topic, it gets easier because you become more familiar with it; we call that developing a mental script. Eventually you're so familiar with the topic, most feelings of stress disappear.

2. All of the following are symptoms of stress trainers may experience when they first start training EXCEPT _____.

a. decreased heart rate
b. sweating
c. nervous stomach
d. tremors

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Reducing Anxiety

Right from the start, give up the belief that you have to be perfect or that you must know everything about the topic. It's just not true. Even experienced trainers occasionally make mistakes and really "screw up," but they know how to roll with it. They don't consider mistakes as big deals or as major obstacles to success, and they don't condemn themselves when they make those mistakes.

The big secret is to accept the fact that mistakes are going to happen. As you take these courses, you will undoubtedly see a mistake here and there. Let me know about it. We should love it when a student points out an error. Why? It gives us the opportunity to correct the error and that improves the quality of the training. We should thank students all the time! Accept the fact that we are going to make mistakes and develop the ability to recover from your mistakes quickly, with grace. We think that to be perfectly human, is to be perfectly imperfect.

3. What is the big secret in how to reduce anxiety associated with training?

a. Blame the students when mistakes happen
b. Accept the fact that mistakes are going to happen
c. Assume you are perfect and can not make mistakes
d. Ignore mistakes when they happen

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Tips to Reduce Anxiety

To help ease your nervousness, make sure you are totally finished setting up and ready to start the training. This will help you feel "in control" of the event. You're on top of things. Below are some ways to help you do this while preparing to train.

  • Arrive at least 30 minutes early (I always arrive one hour early).
  • Open the classroom, turn on the lights, give the room a quick scan.
  • Arrange tables and chairs and make sure you have enough of each.
  • Look for the audio-visual equipment. Make sure it's working.
  • Set up your equipment and determine the location from which you will be presenting.
  • Pass out training materials (workbooks, pens, pencils, name tents, etc.)
  • Go through your lesson plan once again
  • Check all slides, etc. to make sure nothing is missing
  • After you are sure you're ready, greet each student as he or she arrives with a big smile!

Doing all this prior to each training session will increase your confidence and your students will be impressed with how "organized" you are.

4. Each of the following strategies will help reduce stress prior to training EXCEPT _____.

a. arranging tables and chairs
b. arriving at least 30 minutes prior to training
c. reviewing the lesson plan, slides, and distribute handouts
d. showing up late so you have an excuse

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

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