No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Ten instant confidence boosters for trainers


Are you looking for a few pointers to improve your training technique? Hannah McNamara of HRM Coaching can help you.
Even the most experienced trainers get the occasional butterflies before a course. Some people, like myself don't feel ready to start until the adrenalin's pumping. This week I asked my team of trainers to contribute their top confidence boosting tips, plus I've added a few of my own.
From our discussions we've found that there are three main points when every trainer needs a little boost – before, during and immediately after the training session. These are the practical tips they came up with for instantly boosting your confidence:

Before the course

  • Choose an outfit you're comfortable in
The best outfits for training are the ones that course delegates don't notice. They don't notice them because they look 'right' and they can focus on what they are learning rather than being distracted by something you've got on. Choose an outfit which you feel confident in. Some trainers have a lucky necklace or cufflinks – you might have something you wear which makes you feel good and in control of the situation. 
  • Have a ritual
Many trainers have a ritual they go through before beginning a course. Whether it's drinking a cup of coffee to make you feel more alert to having a checklist of everything you need to bring to the training room, having that little piece of certainty about your day – something you're in charge of – can help to calm those butterflies down. It also ensures you're fully prepared and ready to start. 
  • Rehearse your opening line
When the adrenalin's pumping, the last thing any trainer wants to do is stumble over the first few words. Starting confidently sets the tone for the training session and relaxes those nerves. Practice that opening line out loud and you'll find you put your delegates at ease as well as yourself. They want to learn from someone who sounds like they know what they are talking about.

During the training session

  • Smile and make eye contact
Smiling makes you feel better – even if you're faking it. Smiling with eye contact also sends out signals to the people in front of you that you're approachable and trustworthy when done in a genuine way. Of course, this may sound obvious, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work. Each one of our trainers mentioned this as a method they used to boost confidence and gain rapport with the people in front of them. 
  • Stand up straight and deepen your voice
This is a tip we picked up from a vocal coach. When people are nervous, their breathing tends to be quite shallow and fast. When you stand up straight and breathe from your diaphragm you're able to fill your lungs properly and get oxygen into your bloodstream. This in turn relaxes you. When you breathe from lower in your chest, you can also deepen your voice. A deeper voice is associated with maturity while a high squeaky voice is often associated with immaturity and inexperience. When you hear your voice deepen it not only makes you feel in control, it also makes people take what you say more seriously. 
  • Focus on the people who want to be there
The chances are that within any group there will be one or two who would really rather be somewhere else and aren't shy of showing it. It's something that everyone has experienced at one point or another. For example, I remember teaching a group of MBA students about marketing strategy when I noticed a group of three of them huddled around a laptop smiling and pointing at the screen. Convinced that they were passing jokes around rather than concentrating, I did my best not to let it get to me and carried on. After a few glances in their direction, they told me they were checking out my website and ordering one of my ebooks from it. The smiles were because it had been delivered instantly and they saw that I was actively using the marketing principles I was teaching them – phew! The point here is that what you perceive as people switching off might be something altogether different. I've seen people apparently daydreaming come up to me afterwards saying how much they'd got out of a training session – the blank look was their thinking face. If you see people zoning out, instead of wondering what you've done wrong, tell yourself these stories (in fact you've probably got lots of examples of your own). 
  • Be okay with not knowing the answer
The questions sections of any session can cause many trainers to become hot under the collar and secretly wishing, "I hope no one asks any difficult questions in case I don't know the answer". It would be impossible for a trainer to know absolutely everything there is to know about their topic, so accept that there might be some questions you can't answer straight away. A technique we sometimes use when faced with tough questions is to reflect it back to the group: "What a great question. What do you think the answer might be?" while scanning around the room. There's always someone who has been aching for the opportunity to show how much they know. Being able to field tricky questions means you can relax and exude confidence.

Immediately after the training session

  • Don't expect a standing ovation
It's always nice if you've done such a great job that everyone jumps to their feet to applaud you – in reality it doesn't happen all that often. If people gather up their things and leave the training room without saying a word, that's okay, provided you know you've done a good job. There are some topics which are difficult to get excited about. If you go into the session with high expectations on getting a standing ovation, the pressure is on you to perform, rather than on the learners to learn. Make the shift in your mind to facilitating their learning rather than being responsible for making them learn and you'll boost your confidence and be much more present. 
  • Check feedback forms with someone else (not on your own)
If there's one thing we've learned in our time as trainers it's that no matter how good the training session went, one piece of less than positive feedback has the potential to knock your confidence. We're all human. The tip from our team is to go through the feedback forms with someone else so you can talk it through and put any negative comments into perspective. It could be that something like the air conditioning or catering niggled at them all day and this is reflected in their feedback. 
  • Be kind to yourself
Ask people what their number one fear is and most will tell you it's speaking in public. As a trainer, you've got a skill that many people wished they had. It takes guts to get up there and take a training session and you need to give yourself a pat on the back every now and then. Beating yourself up emotionally won't help anyone. Something our trainers said was that they often schedule something after the training course ends so they don't dwell on it and over-analyse themselves. So, next time you're running a training session, book yourself something nice to look forward to afterwards.
Have you registered for our free webinar? 'The Challenge and the Opportunity for Learning Professionals' takes place on 5 May and is hosted by Donald Taylor, chairman of the IITT and speaker at TZ Live.
Register for it here.
Hannah McNamara is the managing director of HRM Coaching Ltd. She has been a trainer on leadership and management, marketing and business development since 2004. She is also a conference speaker and published author

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!