How producing a training session helped me evaluate my own skills and experience

You can’t teach everyone everything you know when you deliver a training session. But, you can teach them something of what you know.

Recently, I’ve been training staff in picture editing and graphics production skills.

The purposes of the sessions was to inspire creative thinking. To do that, we introduced basic layout principles. We encouraged people to think about narrative in imagery. And we demonstrated some simple image manipulation techniques.

I was mindful of my own sense of resistance to the project. Sharing knowledge you’ve gained through self-learning triggers conflicting thoughts.

  • First, there’s a hint of imposter syndrome — am I the authoritative person?
  • Next, there’s the fear that others are going to be able to do what you’ve been able to do. And when they can, you’re not going to feel as needed as you once were.
  • Finally, how do you identify the things you instinctively know how to do and those which others don’t? How do you communicate in a way that inspires rather than intimidates?

As it’s turned out, none of this has turned out to be the case. The training sessions have been an unexpeced reaffirming experience.

Here’s what I’ve learnt.

Thinking about what you know forces you to check your own knowledge

We do a lot of things without thinking in our everyday work.

Stop and think about the things you do everyday without thinking. How did you come to learn how to do those things? Who taught you? Who did it best? Who do you want to be a bit like when you’re doing them?

There’s a high chance you’re overlooking the skills and experience you’re using in everyday tasks.

Stopping to think about what you do, how you came to be able to do it, will uncover some surprises.

Realising the extent of what you know — your skills, experience, and strengths — helps grow your confidence. And that’s before you’ve stood up and said a single word in a training session.

Deciphering why something is important is key to a training session

If you don’t know why it’s important, then why will your audience?

In a training session, you’ve only got someone’s attention for a short while. They’re bound to be distracted; they may not be as enthused about the process as you are.

So, you’ve got to limit your messages. And you’ve got to make sure that the messages you are conveying are important.

Don’t waste time on the small bits and pieces. You need to convey the big stuff. Doing that means each point needs to fight for inclusion.

I had to identify the skills and experience I had learnt so that I could condense what was important. Once I’d done that, I knew what the most important learning points were to share.

By evaluating what’s important you reinforce your own learning. You increase your confidence at the same time

This is the point when the confidence loop establishes itself.

It’s the same principal as visualisation or self-affirmation. When I rehearsed the training session to myself, I was repeating my skills and experience over and over again to myself. My confidence in my own skills and experience grew even more.

I ended up owning my own knowledge in a way I hadn’t done before. If you can articulate what it is that you know, then what you know becomes a whole lot more tangible.

Seeing tiny signs that your words resonate confirms that the process is working

This is the thing that surprises me the most from the whole process. Success is usually measured by impact and reach in the digital world. Measuring your own achievements with the same metrics isn’t always the most useful.

Likes and retweets might be a measure of what’s popular, but they’re not necessarily what’s good.

I’ve uncovered more powerful metrics. Throughout the training sessions I’ve observed something more satisfying. Subtle changes of behaviour in people responding to the training sessions. When people leave the room energised, you know the process has worked. That’s a self-affirming process too.

If I could sell tickets so that other people could experience it then I would.

As the final 60 seconds of the task you’re carrying out approaches, ask yourself a question: would you like to have the opportunity to do it all again?

I asked myself that question in the taxi back to the train station. Technically-speaking the sub-header for this section is incorrect. But, the answer to the question was yes.

Recognising those moments when something I’ve shared is appreciated is a special moment. It’s like giving yourself the best-ever birthday present.

I’ve been engaged in a process where I’ve had to look closely at what I know. I’ve shared that with a group of other people. In the process my appreciation of my own achievements has deepened.

The process is restorative. It has forced me to slow down and evaluate that which I had taken for granted before.

How could you benefit from doing the same evaluation?

If we’re all living this kind of life — fast, automatic, and pressured — what could we all learn about ourselves if we adopt a similar approach?

If you were to momentarily hit the pause button on your life and look at the resulting shot, what would you see?

About the author

Jon Jacob is an executive coach with over three years experience specialising in leadership, career, transition and personal development coaching programmes at the BBC. Follow @TGoodCoach on Twitter. 

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