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How do you identify what works as a business trainer? How do you improve? How can you guarantee that your training will meet the requirements of any audience?
These are some of the questions we were grappling with as we wrote our book ‘The Financial Times Guide to Business Training’. They are the sort of questions we have been intrigued with for ages. There is one simple way of answering these questions – find out how the best trainers in the world do what they do, gain the reputation that marks them out and make the money that many other trainers do not make!
This is what we had done previously with ‘Brilliant Selling’, which has gone on to become the best-selling sales book in Europe, with over 50,000 copies sold and having been translated into 9 languages. We went out there and found 150 of the best sales people and interviewed them face to face and on the telephone and via a survey. We then used a lot of the material in the book. With The FT Guide to Business Training we decided this was going to be an on-going project that would help us write both the first and second editions.
The process is called modelling. It is taken from NLP, of which some of you may well be familiar. Although NLP nowadays has a mixed reception in many quarters, it’s one great legacy is the modeling process. “Modeling” in NLP is the process of adopting the behaviours, language, strategies and beliefs of another person or exemplar in order to ‘build a model of what they do…we know that our modeling has been successful when we can systematically get the same behavioural outcome as the person we have modeled’ (Bandler & Grinder). The ‘model’ is then reduced to a pattern that can be taught to others.
We are still working on the patterns. We have not yet seen enough trainers, which maybe is where you come in! We had already started acquiring a body of evidence, having worked very closely with some of the best NLP trainers in the past – Ian McDermott, David Shepherd and Robert Dilts for example. For this project we have observed and then interviewed 5 outstanding trainers so far– Peter Honey (creator of the most widely used learning styles model in the world), Ed Lamont (Next Action Associates, specialist in time management), Neil Mullarkey (is a coach and business trainer as well as comedian), Steve McDermott (voted best motivational speaker for 3 consecutive years) and John Overdorf (leading NLP trainer and coach).
The process is simple – we observe them for an absolute minimum of half a day and then interview them face to face for usually an hour and a half. At the observation stage we are looking out for a whole host of areas such as:
- How they motivate the participants to learn
- Teaching at conscious and unconscious levels
- Engaging the audience
- Use of key messages
- Handling questions
- Creation of a positive learning environment
- Giving feedback
- Start and finish
- Use of exercises
When we interview the exemplars we ask them a series of questions that include:
- What is the purpose of training?
- What is your role as a trainer?
- What do you do consciously to get into a resourceful state to train?
- What’s been your best training experience? Why?
- What do you think you are really good at? What evidence do you have that supports this?
- What are you responsible for as a trainer?
- How do you reconcile the balance between design and in the moment training – flexibility?
- What do you believe to be true about yourself when you train really well?
- How do you appeal to different learning styles?
- What do you do to follow up and evaluate the success of your training?
What have we found? What are the patterns that make outstanding trainers successful? Our intention is to see and interview at least another 15 business trainers before we properly examine the evidence, identify the patterns and include our findings in the second edition of The FT Guide to Business Training and in a white paper. Here are just 3 commonalities we have already identified which applies to all the trainers we have observed and interviewed. They have:
- a process they follow to get themselves into a highly resourceful state before they train – this can involve breathing, mediating, music, and always being by themselves
- all practised at the edge of discomfort – they identify this as the learning zone. They understand that deep practice is one of the key ingredients to success. Indeed with Neil Mullarkey (who focuses in business on how to use improvising to make you a better communicator) he has practised more than anyone else in the world. Pretty much every Wednesday and Saturday he is at the Comedy Store at Leicester Square doing his stuff!
- an abiding obsession with focusing on the participants, and a strong belief that they are catalysts for change and in some cases transformation. They are great at picking up on the unspoken, going to the heart of the issue and giving participants the feedback, space and encouragement they need to learn and improve skills.
If you are an outstanding trainer or you have been a participant in a training that has really impressed you, then please do get in touch. We are on the lookout for exemplars and if you can introduce us to a sought after and successful business trainer, we will happily give you a copy of the book for free and invite you to our official launch of the book at Pearson’s on the 21 June 2013.
Modeling the best is a fascinating subject and a constant way of learning how to improve and get better results from people and organisations. If you want to learn more about the process we follow, then do get in touch or drop us a question. To outstanding people who show us all how it is done!
Come back again at 3pm to find out how you can improve the way you deliver content!
Tom and Jerry