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or remember anything. You may well have attended a session with an instructor presenting slides of clauses from Annex 17 and simply reading the text? Effective trainers understand their role in engaging, educating, and empowering their participants. They are not just captivating presenters; they are also masters at the art of facilitation. If presenting can be thought of as taking information and ‘pouring it into’ our participants, then facilitation is ‘drawing out’ information, experiences, and wisdom from them. The main art of facilitation is the trainer’s ability to skilfully lead diverging and converging class discussions using a variety of questioning techniques. Facilitation skills work especially well when leading case study discussions and when de-briefing exercises, role-plays, and simulations (e.g. managing disruptive passenger scenarios or hijack exercise de-briefings). This learner-centred process enables conclusions to be drawn out and learning to occur through a natural experiential learning cycle. Great content and training delivery skills are crucial, but

let’s not underestimate the power of setting the right context for a training workshop. The ‘context set’ should include items like the agenda, ground rules, trainer and participant introductions, and gathering participant expectations. However, context is also everything else that we do to create a training environment that is highly conducive to learning. As aircrew often say, “Briefing sets the tone for the entire flight”. The same goes for setting an appropriate tone or atmosphere for the entire course.

Certain subjects, such as classes on disruptive passenger restraint for aircrew, must be delivered by an instructor in a safe environment (Credit: Green Light Ltd.), whilst other subjects, such as X-ray image interpretation, are suited to computer-based training and testing (Credit: ICTS Systems Europe)

Delivery Skills

Now that we have a couple of tools for planning and structuring our training content, what about our delivery skills? The world’s best trainers, presenters and public speakers have all learned a few simple techniques that allow them to captivate their audiences. Current best practice teaches us to deliver in a natural or ‘conversational’ style. In effect, this means talking at a naturally fast rate of words while pausing between ideas to allow participants to have ‘thinking time’ and a chance of remembering what has been said. Unfortunately, too many trainers drone on (often talking slowly, without pausing, in a darkened room, reading from their slides) and then wonder why so many people struggle to pay attention

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A smart trainer sets the context at the start of a workshop by acknowledging participants for their time, experience, and expertise before finding out participants’ expectations for the course. This simple gesture of acknowledgement takes almost no time, yet it is a vital technique for increasing rapport and buy-in, as well as minimising the likelihood of disruptive participant behaviour later in the course. At some level, all participants want is to be acknowledged for the part they play in contributing to a workshop and the wealth of knowledge they bring with them. If this role is not acknowledged, some participants can become disruptive during a workshop if they fear they will be ‘talked down to’ or ‘lectured at’. A skilful trainer also takes a moment during the ‘context set’ to clarify the trainer’s role (coach, facilitator, etc.) vs. the participants’ role (active participation, asking questions, sharing experiences and knowledge, etc.). A practical workshop or training can only succeed if your attendees participate fully in the discussions, role-plays, and exercises you facilitate. Unfortunately, the participation level isn’t always as high as you might hope for and the question becomes, how do you fix it? Did you remember to clarify roles in the context set (coach, player, active participation required, etc.)? If not, it’s never too late to do, or re-do, a context set. It can be done quite naturally before the start of the next topic or after the next break. Another possibility is that you may have, inadvertently, been harsh or judgmental in response to a participant’s point of view or contribution. If that is the case, the solution is simple: apologise, correct, and move on. If you did a complete context set, and your tone is non- judgmental, it’s possible that you’ve jumped too high on the ‘participation gradient’, i.e. you may have over-encouraged ‘risky’ participation too early in the course. For example, if a participant is called on to share in front of the whole class when they feel unprepared, it may make participants feel that they are in an environment that is ‘unsafe’ causing them, and others,

April 2012 Aviationsecurityinternational

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