Ever had to give a training presentation or speak on a topic that you didn’t have a lot of knowledge or experience with? What if you needed to deal with a snarky co-worker at the same time?
Theresa has to deal with this, and she needs to demo a buggy software to boot! In this Communication Q&A, learn how adopting a beginner’s mindset can help you deal with difficult presentations, unfamiliar topics, and even snide comments from unhelpful people.
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Have you ever taught someone something when you were just a beginner yourself? Share it in the comments below or drop it my way @lsergy on Twitter
Remember to like the video, subscribe to my channel, and share this post with your colleagues so that they, too, can feel a bit better about giving difficult presentations!
Welcome, friends! I’m Lauren Sergy on Talk Shop Q&A, with answers to all sorts of communication questions. And today we’ve got a sticky one from Theresa:
I just joined a company and know very little about the application (a third-party software package) that I will provide training on to end users. My predecessor didn’t do a good job training people in the past. On top of it, the software has bug issues from time to time, and the users including me don’t have confidence using it.
At one point in a public setting, the project coordinator (a colleague from another team) teased me in front of the end users that I know nothing about the software.
Here’s my question: During the training sessions, what attitude and mindset should I have about being a beginner with this software myself? Should I talk about things like flaws and bugs with my audience?
Thank you for your time and expertise, Theresa
Theresa, this is a great question, and I’ve been in similar situations myself. In the first couple of years after grad school, I had to give software training on a program that I was totally unfamiliar with and that was notoriously buggy and difficult to use.
What I found was that I could use the fact that I was also a beginner with the software to my advantage. I was able to easily see the problems and frustrations that other beginners experienced – problems that more experienced developers didn’t see because they were too familiar with the program.
I worked my “beginner’s mind” into my training presentations, and the end users could immediately tell that I related to their experience. They found my candor refreshing, the instructions clear, and the training relevant to their needs.
Now as the trainer, you do need to show that you’re familiar with the software, because your end users need to have confidence in your skills. This means that you might need to spend more time learning the program and becoming comfortable with your training presentations.
But as you’re learning the software, embrace your own “beginner’s mind”, make notes about the problems and questions that other beginners might have, and incorporate that into your training. Your audience will appreciate your insight and your sensitivity to their experience.
Your also asked about whether or not you should talk about bugs and flaws. And again I’ll speak from my own experience: YES. Bring up the bugs and the flaws.
Part of your job as a trainer is to make the user’s experience predictable, and that means talking about the problems that they might encounter. You don’t want to pick over every little thing that’s wrong, but tell them about the more common bugs they might run into, and tell them how to deal with them.
Your end users will be grateful for your openness and transparency, and by clearly communicating likely problems to them, you’ll be making their lives easier.
And as for that program coordinator who teased you? You might not be allowed to literally drop kick him out the window, but give him the boot mentally. His smart remarks don’t matter. Focus on creating a truly useful presentation and training experience for the people who really matter – your audience.
Now I’ll turn it over to you: Have you ever taught someone something when you were just a beginner yourself? Share your story in the comments. I’d be ever so appreciative if you give this video a “like” and subscribe to my channel appreciative . . . and I’d be even more appreciative if you head over to laurensergy.com and sign up for the newsletter to get more tips for improving your next presentation.
Thanks for joining me here on Talk Shop Q&A, and be sure to pop back in for the next episode.