How “Rehearsing” Will Improve Your Training

Preparation Is Important

Everyone who conducts training understands the importance of preparation.  We study the topic, refresh ourselves on the key points, gain clarity on the goals or outcomes, create the training outline, detail the content to be discussed, create or assemble audio visuals and any handout materials, and more.

During the initial preparation we begin to visualize ourselves in the situation of delivering the training content.  Creating the course outline, identifying and write down the key learning points, and then thinking about how we plan to deliver the content helps us experience the linear progression of the course.  What does it look like?

The way this mental process works, we actually practice the delivery of the content as the pieces are put in place.  Every PowerPoint slide describes or illustrates a learning point or two.  The video you plan to show introduces key points and illustrates important learning points.  Every story or example further defines the content.  Each step in the creation process requires you to think about the content and how it will be presented.  You mentally practice and gain clarity.

However, practicing in this manner is not the same as rehearsing the actual delivery of the course.  Rehearsing brings the training to life.

Practicing versus Rehearsing

Recently, I read a quote on this from Tim Sanders.  He wrote, “As much as practice breeds confidence, rehearsal gives you a sense of certainty.  A rehearsal is a practice session in anticipation of a public performance.  It’s doing the thing in the “as-if” mode – where you are fully committed.”

Do you see the difference?  Rehearsing puts your mind in motion.  It engages your imagination and helps you visualize and “feel the experience” of actually delivering the training content. 

You know the stories you are planning to share, so rehearse actually telling them.  Imagine the reaction you are looking for and what you will do or say when you get it.  Are you planning to interject a game or competition?  Visualize the group, provide the directions and start the game.  Have fun with it just as if you had three groups engaged in playing the game.  Hear the laughter and imagine the comments flying back and forth.  What questions do you plan to ask?  Do they bring out the kind of response you want or need to make your point?  Should you ask it a different way?

The best rehearsals will take the training session from the beginning all the way to the end.  This allows you to gain a feel for your audience’s experience.  It also tells you the length of the training, allowing for addition or subtraction if necessary.

Early in my safety career I’d prepare for a training class, and maybe practice parts of the session.  However, I never actually rehearsed from beginning to end.   Afterwards, I would think about the session and find things I’d change next time. 

Later on, when giving consecutive sessions on the same topic, I learned that the second and third sessions were always better than the first.  I finally realized that the first session was really my rehearsal! 

Though it might increase your preparation time, rehearsing  greatly increases your chances of success.  So, the next time you are conducting training, especially on a topic that you are training on for the first time, rehearse.  I guarantee you will notice the difference in the outcome.