Do you remember the first class you facilitated? What about the first time someone truly engaged with the content you were presenting? That feeling of making a positive difference for one person was exciting. Influencing a whole room of people was nothing short of exhilarating.
Recent discussions about professionals engaging in the second or third acts of their careers got me thinking of future possibilities. Wouldn’t it be exciting to dive into a new arena to learn and grow and contribute? It would be an opportunity to recreate myself and step into a world that holds only potential.
It reminded me of the first day of a new job. Everything and everyone is fresh. You are expected to show up with curiosity and your questions are appreciated and embraced. There is so much to discover and uncover.
Truth be told, that is why I have fallen in love with training … again.
Moving classroom training content to online created a whirlwind of opportunity. The myriad of questions that swirled in my thoughts included these:
- How can this content be engaging online?
- Should the timing be shorter to accommodate screen fatigue?
- What content is applicable right now given the state of the world?
- What does my audience need? How can I foster connection online?
Whether it’s the first day on the job or a few decades have passed, every day brings an opportunity for discovery when you work in learning and development. Experience has taught me that colleagues are always happy to explain something or share the challenges they face. Not only does it give them a venue to engage, but it is through those precious discussions that I learn how to help them and, ultimately, increase my effectiveness.
There is no need to look any further than the industry that I have fallen in love with every day of my career. What is needed, on occasion, is a self-check. And, if your so inclined, here are my suggestions:
Show up with the curiosity of a new hire. Shed that armor that says you’re “supposed” to know the answers and ask those questions that everyone else is too seasoned to ask. This line of questioning gives you the ability to connect with your content and, therefore, with your audience.
Listen deeply to learn about what you don’t know. Suspend your confirmation bias. Hear the facts that are communicated but listen deeply for the feelings. What else is going on? When trainers connect to the feelings behind the content, the impact they make can last a lifetime.
Be fully present in the moment. Whether facilitating to a room of people or a screen full of boxes, be in that moment. Be fully engaged with your content and your audience. Drive home your point and allow it to sit there for a moment to be absorbed. That space is where deep learning happens.
Be aware of your energy. Show up to every class with genuine excitement and passion. Your energy is contagious, and if you’re not feeling it, your audience will know. If it feels like you (and your content) are on repeat, it’s time to shake things up. Redesign the presentation, delivery, or format. Brainstorm with a colleague. Interview participants and find out what needs tweaking. You are not a victim to your content; you are the catalyst.
Passion can sometimes be a challenging thing to maintain during the course of a career, but if you keep your curiosity piqued, it’s likely that you’ll fall in love with training again and again.