Tip #583: How to Establish Credibility as a Trainer

“In the end, you make your reputation and you have your success based upon credibility and being able to provide people who are really hungry for information what they want.” Brit Hume

Do you have any of the following characteristics?

  • You’re a new trainer.
  • You have less experience on the job than those you will be training.
  • You are new to the organization.
  • You are much younger than many in your audience.

Any of these characteristics can make it difficult to establish credibility in a training situation. Having more than one of these characteristics can seem like an impenetrable barrier to establishing trust in your knowledge and ability.

What can you do to establish credibility? There are four key steps you can take: (1) be prepared so you do a good job; (2) acknowledge apparent limitations, then show why they should be dismissed; (3) dignify the expertise of the audience; and (4) keep your promises.

  1. Be prepared so you do a good job.

An audience is much more likely to trust a trainer: who is prepared, knowledgeable, and well organized; who is aware of the audience; who presents useful information that meets their needs; and who fulfills the promised program expectations.

Don’t: Don’t try to “wing it” in front of the audience. Don’t reinforce your perceived “limitations” through lack of planning and preparation.

Do: Do your research. Conduct a needs assessment so you know who your audience is and what they already know (or think they know) about the topic. Set learning goals that will meet the audience’s needs. Create a solid lesson plan. Provide proven practical information. Keep the program interesting and engaging. Get the participants actively involved throughout the program. Practice giving the program to iron out any bugs. Practice using any audiovisuals to make sure the equipment runs smoothly.

  1. Acknowledge apparent limitations, then show why they should be dismissed.

What this means is that you might as well acknowledge the obvious: “I’m new,” ” I have less experience,” etc. because that is what your audience is already thinking.

However, immediately after that explain what qualifies you to be standing in front of the room. For example:

“I may be new to this company, but I have spent the past number of years working in a company that has a similar culture and similar issues.”

“I may be young, but I want to assure you that I have studied this subject extensively and have very current information to give you.”

Don’t: Don’t apologize for being new or younger, etc. Don’t get defensive. Don’t keep referring to your “limitations.” Don’t ask for the audience’s patience because you’ve “never done this before.”

Do: Anticipate what will concern your audience and prepare what you are going to say to remove their concern. Watch your tone of voice and body language. Stay calm and professional. Speak with a firm and clear voice. Stand tall.

  1. Dignify the expertise of the audience.

This means that you recognize and value the experience and expertise of the audience and you feel comfortable drawing on that when necessary during your training.

Don’t: Don’t think that you need to continually “prove” yourself by having all the answers, particularly when you may not have them. Don’t make things up because you don’t want the audience to know you don’t have the answer. Don’t be afraid to ask for facts, information or examples from the audience members.

Do: Be honest about what you do and do not know. Invite and welcome audience input and participation. Thank the audience for sharing their expertise and experience (both formally in front of the entire group and informally during one-on-one conversations during break times).

  1. Keep your promises.

This means that you send requested documentation and follow up to find and report answers to questions you could not answer during the program.

Don’t: Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t assume that your audience will not care and will not read what you send to them. Don’t forget to get accurate contact information for the audience members so you can send what you have promised.

Do: Send promised information as quickly as possible after the program. Write a brief note thanking the audience for their participation and interest. Invite then to communicate with you if they have any additional questions. Make sure your contact information is accurate. Respond promptly to any follow up communications from audience members.

A trainer who is knowledgeable and well prepared, who openly addresses and handles any perceived limitations, who treats the audience with respect and courtesy, and who follows through on post-training communications, will show himself or herself to be trustworthy and credible.

May your learning be sweet.


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