Over the past several years, I have attended numerous indoor cycling workshops and certification classes. I have also attended non-indoor cycling workshops and conferences that focused on general fitness and wellness. Given my background in the IT/Software training industry, I am somewhat more critical than the general public when it comes to evaluating presenters, trainers and speakers. Regardless of the industry, theme or subject, when you are in front of people, there are a few things that you should strive to uphold and not forget. The following is a list of those things that trainers/presenters typically forget – which, in my view, diminishes the quality of the presentation and takes away from the effectiveness of learning:
Arrive Early / Start On Time
This may seem like a no brainer; however, if you’re on time, you’re late. Yes, that is harsh, but arriving early to teach a certification class is a must in my book. As an indoor cycling instructor, when do you arrive to your class? On time? Late? Or, early? You see, I am habitually early to my engagements and I take the extra time to ensure that all equipment and venue setup are what they should be. If not, there is time to address any issues. A few weeks ago, I attended a certification class and the instructor was 20 minutes late and could not start the class until another 20 minutes were spent configuring his laptop and music. There is an element of respect that speaks volumes about your character. So, please, arrive early and start on time.
Have An Outline / Stick To It
There is nothing worse than paying a lot of money for a certification class, then having the instructor start the class with no clear vision about the class objectives, topics and delivery times for these topics. A training outline is an absolute must. Equally important is that, as a subject matter expert, you must adhere to the outline, keep it structured while allowing for questions, but do not deviate so much from the outline that you end up rushing topics that matter. Finally, return to the outline a few times throughout the workshop to remind participants of what topics were covered and how much remains to cover.
Finish Early / Never Finish Late
I absolutely dislike it when the instructor or presenter keeps on going beyond the official end of the class/certification/workshop. Again, this is about respect – respecting participants’ time. As noted in the previous point, a structured outline will help you stay within the workshop’s timeframe. No structure leads to chaos. And chaos, leads to finishing late. Of course, wrapping up a few minutes early is always welcomed and in fact, encouraged! In the extreme case of needing to finish late, please let the participants know so that they are prepared (especially if they have made travel arrangements, such as transportation pickups, flights, etc.).
Never Badmouth Competition / Rise Above
A hallmark of good instructors is their ability to avoid commenting on sensitive topics that may lead to drawn out discussions (such as contraindicated moves). You can diffuse the situation by taking these questions “on the sidelines”. This shows maturity and can easily bring you back to your outline. While questions should be welcomed at all times, keep the answers brief and succinct. Avoid the temptation of speaking poorly of other competing certification classes, other instructors, technologies or equipment.
Make Yourself Available / Remain Engaged
Please share with your attendees your contact information and how you can be reached. Speak to the attendees during breaks and after class. As an instructor myself, there are times when I am hungry, need a bathroom break or just want to go home. However, the attendees paid a significant amount of money to be certified and they deserve a few minutes of your time. Make it clear in your outline that you will be available for questions and if there are any questions that need further research, promise you will do so and get back to the person who asked.
Have Backups / Prepare For Murphy’s Law
Although certification materials can be sent to participants in advance, have a backup copy just in case (paper copy, copy on a flash drive, etc.). When using playlists, bring a backup MP3 player, extra batteries, and use your mobile device or keep a copy online just in case it is needed (storing it on Spotify, Soundcloud or other services). I recently attended a CPR/AED recertification workshop where the instructor wanted to stream videos during the class. Guess what? The WiFi at the facility was down, and with no backup videos, the class was a huge mess.
Have you experienced any other pet peeves? Share them…