When I’m delivering training, I often get lots of great feedback from evaluations that say things like “Made to feel welcome from the very start” which I love.  I take so much pride in helping people learn in a great environment. After all, this is this one of my most important jobs of the day, but why is this the case? Remember that feeling of dread you can have to go into a potentially new environment, meeting new people and then having to learn too! - It’s quite a challenge, isn’t it?  As the trainer, you have the chance to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible, so they’ll then have the best opportunity to learn in the right ‘climate’.  So how can you achieve this? – Here are my four top tips:

Cover the human needs – Make sure that you know where the toilets are and that they are accessible and serviceable.  If possible, is there water, tea coffee to keep refreshing?  Also, make sure the temperature is right, the room is well ventilated and that you give regular breaks.

Don’t keep people needlessly waiting – Timeliness and organisation are positive traits for a great trainer. However, I’ve seen too many times where people have been held outside waiting for an interview or a Doctor’s appointment when it’s not necessary. Remember if people have nerves about what’s ahead, then sitting waiting outside thinking things over is going to make things so much worse.  Unless you’ve got a good reason for keeping people outside waiting, offer them the opportunity to come in; some will and some won’t, but for those that do, it’s going to give you so much more chance to develop the rapport in point 3.

Greet each person and get them talking – If possible to do so, greet each person as they come in, making them feel welcome with positive, open body language and statements such as “Please come in and make yourself comfortable, grab a coffee/water if you’d like one” really helps.  Remember how important those first few seconds are for building rapport and trust so shake hands, give good eye contact, a smile and then ask them a non-invasive question to try and build that early rapport.  Something like “How was your journey today?” or “Have you travelled far?” or “How did you travel today?”.  Further, extend that rapport by fostering it within the group get them talking together early (especially important if they don’t know each other).  I often find little introductions from everyone breaks the ice and often encourages further discussion and laughs at break times.

Get them to set the contract – Coming up with their own terms and conditions for the right learning ‘climate’ which will help foster understanding between themselves and you.  Importantly, always make sure you ask what they want to achieve individually from the learning and before you finish, make sure you check it has been achieved and if not, help them as much as you possibly can.  Also, make sure you give them the opportunity here to tell you if they have any special needs or requirements from you for their learning; this is where that early rapport will pay dividends as they might otherwise feel uncomfortable to share any requests.

My four top tips above are well and truly tried and tested and used in every session I take so if you don’t use any of them already, why not give them a go and check out your feedback!

Scott Fraser is a Master Trainer at Target Training and delivers our PTT Train the Trainer courses and our Advanced PTT Train the Trainer courses.  You can read more about him here.