As a trainer or facilitator, do you ever share the stage with a colleague or two? It’s worth considering for the following reasons.
- Two people – assuming they’re the right two people – are smarter and savvier than either one individually. Under some circumstance, a third person can make you even smarter.
- Having a diversity of training styles and personalities improves the odds that you’ll connect with everyone in the room.
- Given a large group, multiple trainers can gather more information and be more responsive than any one of us can be individually.
Of course, there are challenges that come with working in teams, and sometimes it’s just easier to work alone. However, sooner or later you will have the opportunity and/or responsibility to share facilitation duties – so why not make it a productive experience?
Six Tips for Working With a Training Partner
I just returned from a strategic planning retreat co-facilitated with my terrific colleague Stephanie Lahar, www.stephanielahar.com. Based on our work together preparing for and running the retreat, here are six suggestions to help you train more effectively with partners.
- “Where are you on the “preparation spectrum?” Some trainers prepare every detail in advance. Others do minimal prep, trust their instincts, and wing it. Before you begin working with a partner, have a frank conversation about where you land on this spectrum. If you differ, find a place in the middle where you can both be reasonably comfortable.
- Sort out who’s doing what, then adjust in real time. As you prepare the agenda, figure out in advance who will lead each portion, with the understanding that assignments (and maybe the agenda itself) can change as the event evolves.
- Accommodate different technologies. As noted in an earlier blog post, I am not a PowerPoint fan, but will use slides from time to time. However, I’ve co-trained with partners who rely heavily on projectors and screens, and I’ve learned accept their use of these tools – even as we discuss how to make their portions of the agenda less lecture-y and more interactive.
- Trust your partner. A lack of trust can be manifested in several ways, including multiple interruptions, obsessively watching (and commenting on) every detail, and paraphrasing what your colleague has already said.One advantage of two facilitators: you can do multiple things at once. For example, one can lead the group while the other physically sets up the next activity in an adjacent space. However, this only works if you trust your partner enough to actually leave the room.
- Check in often. As Stephanie and I facilitated together, she noticed things about the group that I had missed, and vice versa. After comparing notes, we adjusted the agenda – and it worked.
- Learn from each other. The great gift of working in teams is you can observe and learn from other professionals. Every time I co-train, I pick up a new exercise, a story I can use, or different angle on something I thought I already knew. If you don’t gain any new tools during a co-training experience, you’re missing the point.
If you have the chance to train or facilitate with a colleague – especially one you admire – grab it! Your event will be more successful and you’ll learn something useful along the way.