My dad, Allen Thompson, a gifted trainer by nature, taught me to sail as a young teen. On a 12ft somewhat battered catamaran, he showed me the basics in Key Biscayne Bay before handing me the tiller. I don’t recall if it was that first day or our second time out when he asked about my greatest fear on the water. At that time it was capsizing. You can guess the next lesson.  Once our boat was upside down in the water Dad successfully showed me how to flip it right side up. As we caught the wind he would debrief the experience and soon we returned to flipping the boat again and again. It’s easy to spot his training steps from this example.

Much of Parakaleo’s early training came from what I learned from Dad. Then as Tami Resch’s (Program Director) natural skills of teaching and training blossomed, Parakaleo’s training became the beautiful blend of what we experience today.

Our top training tips:

12. Determine your purpose. 

What outcome do you desire? If you are an expert in a given field, giving information is totally appropriate. However, if our desire is to train participants need to get their hands wet and practice what they’ve been taught and then debrief the experience.

11. Send pre-work ahead of time. 

This saves on laborious instructions, preps people for what will be taking place, and communicates a field of knowledge you would like them to be familiar with before they arrive. Your time together can now focus on training.

10. Consider your purpose for using power points and other forms of media.

I prefer to use media for beauty, quotes, key points, questions, or instructions for an activity. This way the main focus is on the participants and what they need rather than getting through my presentation.

9. Make your presentations 9 or 18 minutes long before switching to another activity that involves participation. 

Our tendency is to err on giving way more information then our audience can assimilate.

8. Be yourself, use your unique abilities, and get help from others for your areas of weakness.

When we use games, my co-partner, Tami, explains the instructions. I can barely follow instructions let alone explain them to others. If I’m training on my own, I find someone ahead of time to explain game instructions.

7. Share your failures as well as your successes.

A trainer, who only speaks of successes, risks losing credibility. No one is perfect so why pretend to be.

6. Make your audience your top priority, not your presentation.

Be willing to change your plans in the moment even if it means you scrap something you spent hours or days preparing. If you are working with multiple presenters, make sure they know ahead of time that plans might have to change.

5. Get and give feedback through out the training event.

After a game or activity, debrief what was learned. If your leading a multiple day training event, invite capable participants to do the debriefing. This will show what was taught well, keep others involved, and also let you know what you need to change on the spot or for the future.

4. Take risks and employ as many senses as possible.

If you are conveying a lot of material, divide into groups asking each group to create a song for what needs to be memorized. Give them tune suggestions. This was Tami’s idea and I wasn’t sure how it would be received. Not only does it loosen people up but helps a group bond. It makes for an enjoyable event and people more easily remember what is put to music.

3. Offer something special at each event.

If you offer food, make sure it’s excellent! Simple and tasty is far better than lots of options but mediocre choices. Find something your audience will enjoy. Local business often will donate items for an event in their town. Several years we received donations from a lingerie store. No doubt about it, that was appreciated more than books!

2. Learn through playing games.

Besides being fun, we learn more when we’re involved in the process. When in the Colorado Rockies, we had a roaring fire in the evenings and served appetizers while conducting a training activity. When at a beach location, we met under umbrellas on the sand. And on one beautiful day in Florida we couldn’t bare to stay indoors, or at least I couldn’t. We found several huge inner tubes and with a few people holding us together, we led a training event in a lake.

1. And for our best-kept secret, invite other trainers to join your team.

If what you offer is good, others are going to want to be a part of it even if you can’t pay them. We all want to be included in cutting edge stuff. Our non-profit has been in operation for over twelve years and about 30% of operational costs have been donations of time and talent!