6 Steps to managing training nerves

Tuesday 22nd September 2015

For many, the prospect of delivering a training session to a group of work colleagues can be an incredibly daunting thought. They may have all the technical skills or be an expert in their chosen field, but the thought of being the centre of attention and the focus can make the most confident person crumble.

When we hold our first introductory session with our Train the Trainercandidates, we regularly notice that the mood in the room changes when we mention the practical elements of the course. The room goes quiet. Some candidates exchange exaggerated nervous looks, while others withdraw into a period of reflection.

But these practical elements are central to the individual gaining the Planning and Delivering Learning Sessions to Groups SQA certified qualification. No matter how confidently we reassure them that 'they'll be fine', for some, we know that it could be a real issue.

The fear is driven in many by a lack of self-confidence that manifests itself in an overwhelming feeling of nervousness. Below are the 6 steps we share with our candidates on how to manage their nerves.

6 Steps To Managing Training Delivery Nerves

Step 1. Know your Audience

Talk with people before your training session. Your confidence will grow when you realise that you will be presenting them with useful and interesting material. Knowing they will benefit from what you're set to deliver can really help manage your nerves.

Step 2. Know your Material

Nothing is worse for nerves than running a training session on a topic you are not well prepared for. Know your content and anticipate additional questions you may be asked. Make your material interesting and memorable, include lots of interaction, with activities and discussion. This enhances the learning experience and gives you a break from presenting. It also allows you to deliver information in a more relaxed manner.

Step 3. Structure your Learning Session

Some people try to calm nervousness by memorising what they intend to say by writing a carefully crafted script. But remember, if you forget or lose track of where you are with your session, you can be thrown off and this can make your nervousness worse. It is better to have a well-structured lesson plan for your session and give yourself good information within the plan as reminders to keep you on track.

You can also:

  1. Have a set of key phrases on a cue card.
  2. Refer to these phrases to trigger your mind as to what is coming next.
  3. If you are using a PowerPoint presentation, use the key phrases as links.

Step 4. Practice

As we've already mentioned, you should avoid memorising your learning session. However, you do want to be very comfortable with your delivery. Familiarity breeds confidence, and practice helps you to deliver the words naturally.

  1. Learn the organisation and order of your presentation
  2. If you feel the need to memorise, limit it to your opening. This will help you to get off to a smooth start.
  3. Being videoed can make you nervous, but you can see parts of your presentation style that you might want to change. Such as how you speak, your tone and your speed.
  4. Prepare for large events by practicing with a smaller group first, or by inviting colleagues to listen to a dry run first.

Step 5. Prepare for delivery

Once you know what you are going to say, you need to prepare yourself for the actual delivery.

  1. Decide what you are going to wear - make it comfortable and appropriate
  2. Arrive early, re-arrange the room if necessary and get your equipment set up
  3. Anticipate problems and have backups and contingencies in place in case something does not work, or you forget something
  4. Prepare responses to anticipated questions for discussions etc.

Step 6. Calm Yourself from the Inside

Nervousness causes physiological reactions which are mostly attributed to the increase of adrenaline in your system. You can counteract these effects with a few simple techniques:

  1. Practise deep breathing - adrenaline causes you to breath shallowly. By breathing deeply your brain will get the oxygen it needs and the slower pace will trick your body into believing you are calmer. It also helps to keep your voice from quivering.
  2. Drink water - adrenaline can cause a dry mouth, which in turn can lead to getting tongue-tied. Have a drink of water handy. Take sips occasionally.
  3. Smile - this is a natural relaxant that sends positive chemicals through your body
  4. Use visualisation techniques - imagine that you are delivering to a group that is interested, enthusiastic, smiling, and reacting positively. Cement this positive image in your mind and recall it right before you are ready to start.
  5. Just before you start talking, pause, make eye contact, and smile. This last moment of peace is very relaxing and gives you time to adjust to being the centre of attention.
  6. Speak more slowly than you would in a conversation, and leave longer pauses between sentences. This slower pace will help to calm you down, and it will also make you easier to hear, especially at the back of the room.
  7. Move around during your training. This will expend some of your nervous energy
  8. Stop Thinking About Yourself. Remember people are there to learn, to get information and expand their knowledge and you are there to help them do that.

Follow these 6 steps, add a little bit of self belief and not only will you better manage the nerves, but you'll find that you actually enjoy the experience of delivering train the trainer sessions and other presentations to others. We're never happier than when a highly nervous candidate delivers a highly successful training workshop. It's what drives us.


To find out more about our Train the Trainer course, please visit our Train the Trainer page or phone 01382 668760 for an informal chat.