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From the Road

From the Road: When Does Training Start?

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Steve WillisSteve Willis is a Master Trainer and Vice President of Professional Services at VitalSmarts.
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From the Road

It seems like a simple question that should elicit a fairly straightforward, simple answer. But nooooo, Al wanted more than the standard “8:00 A.M.” response. So he asked again, “When does training start?”

The setting was our VitalSmarts best practices meeting, and Al Switzler was trying to get us to think more deeply about our preparation and to pinpoint the time when we “turn on” for training. “So many times the presenter turns on the charm, enthusiasm, energy, interest in participants, the smile (Al went on for a while, but for the sake of brevity I’ll summarize the majority of his list with, “etc.”) once the clock strikes that magical start time hour.” He went on to say that training should start much earlier than the time printed on the invitation letter, and that if you are currently starting at that time, you’re starting too late and missing huge opportunities to engage the participants and set the appropriate climate.

With this in mind, I’m interested in hearing when training starts for you. What do you do to make sure it starts off well? Share your thoughts below to get the idea flow started.

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Steve Willis

As one of the original trainers at VitalSmarts, Steve has been on the forefront of developing award-winning training programs, perfecting quality training platforms, and delivering training content that has influenced more than 500,000 people to date. In addition, Steve has trained and certified thousands of employees, managers, and trainers from Fortune 500 companies across the nation. read more

7 thoughts on “From the Road: When Does Training Start?”

  1. Training starts when those enrolled in the class pick up their toolkit (book and audio). This is typically 1 week prior to the start of class. People often want to tell me why they “need” this class and I reinforce how helpful the skills they will learn will be and may even give a short preview. For those who were forced to sign up (I know, hard to believe!), it’s an opportunity to dig a little deeper and create a positive attitude.
    Ofcourse, training is constant for those all around you by role modeling the skills.

  2. Training for me for the next class starts at my last class on that subject when a new idea dawns on me for how to say or teach something more effectively or from helpful feedback at the last class.

  3. For me the training starts when I send out the email notification and the pre-learning material. We have crafted a letter that starts to engage the participants and stresses the importance of being there for their learning partner(s) the full 16 hours.

  4. Training starts on my drive into work that day! I use the time in the car (about 20 minutes) to get into my zone! Sometimes I sign to some Broadway tunes to really get my voice and energy level prepared and sometimes I practice the stories I will be using during training. If I am feeling really sassy I’ll use that time to conduct a crucial conversation with my daughter or on the phone with family or friends! Then when I walk into my classroom I am bringing all that preparation and energy with me!

  5. Training starts for me while prepping as I’m trying to envision how culture will play a role in the use of the principles and skills. When arriving on the first morning (minimum of one hour in advance) inevitably there are people who show up and have a great opportunity to learn a lot about them and how they see the topic being relevant.

    If they were ordered to sign up, what good they think they might take away given the fact that they are (trapped) there anyway (almost always get a positive conversion as the participant has the opportunity to vent and explore possibilities for making the content work in their challenging world).

    As additional “stragglers” work their way in, we often have the start of a warm learning environment and it becomes contagious so that by the published “start time” we’ve got momentum and I’ve mentioned several of the skills they will be learning.

  6. Training starts for me when I think of new or different ways of delivering after a session, of new stories, of how to apply participant input to the next training with the same client group.
    Also, I try to make participants as comfortable as possible as they arrive in the training room by introducing myself and chatting- this tends to put people at ease and set the tone for the training.

  7. It’s interesting to get your perspectives on this. I was thinking about Jeanne’s comment about singing in the car. It reminded me of a voice coach I once worked with that suggested signing as a way to warm up your voice and set an “up-beat” tone for yourself.

    I’ve also found Anne-Marie’s suggestion of “chatting people up” is an effective way to get people comfortable more quickly.

    Keep these ideas coming

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