Think of all the professions that require workers to bring tools to the job site.
If you’re a painter, carpenter, surveyor, plasterer, plumber, gardener, or electrician, you travel with your tools. Chefs carry their own knives. Musicians bring their instruments. Yoga instructors shoulder their yoga mats.
What’s in your toolbox?
Facilitators and trainers are no different. As you assemble your traveling toolkit, we recommend the following items.
- A sturdy easel and flip chart paper. Self-adhesive paper is handy. If you don’t have that, get a roll of painter’s tape that won’t pull paint off the walls. If you’re traveling any distance and can’t bring your own, make sure there’s an easel available.
- A set of multicolored markers. Choose water-based markers (these are less smelly) with broad nibs so people can see what you write. Test them to make sure they are fresh; for a facilitator, there is nothing more frustrating than a box of dry markers.
- A timer. You can use a stopwatch, wrist watch, or your smart phone. Choose a timer that’s easy to reset without wondering which button to push.
- A noisemaker. Use a bell, chime, tambourine, or train whistle (buy one at your local toy store) to get people’s attention. It should be loud enough to be heard over lots of voices.
- Paper and pens are required for some exercises. If you want participants to write something brief, hand out small pieces of paper, such as index cards.
For more complex jobs, a bigger toolbox
Under some circumstances, you may need a few additional tools to successfully complete your work.
- Computer and/or thumb drive. As much as Andrea and I discourage PowerPoints, sometimes we need them. For example, I recently trained about 80 people – several were too far away to see the flip chart – so I prepared slides to set up the exercises. In this case, the presenting organization provided the projector and screen, and I brought my own laptop. If you use a Mac, make sure you bring the correct “dongle” or connector cable.
- Many activities require printed handouts. If you’re not providing your own, be sure someone is assigned to photocopy and bring them.
- Prizes and rewards. Some exercises can be structured as contests. When you offer rewards – even modest, silly rewards – the energy level jumps.
- Things to fiddle with. I’ve attended workshops where the facilitators put items on the table, such as pipe cleaners and modeling clay, for people who want to keep their hands occupied. You can also design exercises with “task cards” that participants shuffle into the proper order. (We’ll present an example in another post, so stay tuned.)
- Chocolate. Spread it around the room. It’s one of the best goodwill gestures, and is always appreciated.
Before you leave home, check your list
How many times have you left the house without your sunglasses, your keys, or that gift for your friend? How many times have you forgotten something at the office that you really, really need?
One solution: the checklist. Create your own trainer and facilitator checklist, starting with the items above. Add and subtract items as you see fit – then use it. You’ll be happy you did.