How To Avoid Getting Caught Off Guard When Training
If you’re a trainer, there’s one scenario that’s almost impossible to
avoid. It’s the scenario where you see a hand going up.
The participant is about to ask a question.
And there’s nothing wrong with the question, except that it’s out of
left field. The participant is asking: How do I blazaboo the
configulation spectroconfiture on the grinolatieur?
You have no clue what’s being asked. Or you probably have a vague idea, but you’re so tired that your brain refuses to function.
At this point, most presenters seem to hedge.
They either give a really crappy answer.
Or they say: I don’t know the answer. Let me get back to you.
And getting back to the participant is fine, but why postpone the
It’s obvious you’ve been caught off guard.
Why not get back onto the right footing again?
And how do you get back to your right footing?
Here’s what I do: I’ll turn to the audience. And I’ll say: “Does
anyone have the answer to this question?”
And invariably someone will have an answer.
Now at this point something wonderful occurs.
Not only do we get one answer, but we get several answers. And the
answers are rich in examples, or applications. Often, the question
will lead to other questions and angles that haven’t been
In fact, that’s what happened in one of our live workshops
A client, called Claude asked a question regarding marketing
schools. I of course had no clue what to say. I haven’t marketed
schools, and heck anyway, I was tired.I’d been on my feet for
about two days, and a question out of the blue is like a bazooka
aimed at your head.
So I simply turned over the question to the group.
And they came up with dozens of answers.
Claude scribbled a sheet full of points.
Points I could never have thought of, even if I was able to answer
And when everyone had finished giving him this gusher of answers, I
was able to chip in as well. I was able to summarise, and also give
him yet another angle.
Which is why you never have to play know-it-all.
Or the ‘I’ll-get-back-to-you’ person either.
You can simply turn the question over to the crowd, and the answers
will pour forth.
But there’s a little clause you must pay attention to, before you
begin your training.
You need to make your audience feel safe.
I first create a safety zone in every workshop, training or even on
a course online. This means that the rest of the audience feels
confident enough to pitch in.
And the way to create this safety zone is by announcing that it is a
safe zone to begin with, and that no answers are silly answers, and
that all discussions will be more than welcome.
Once you create the safety zone, you’ve set the stage for a great
training session. But most of all when you see that hand going up,
you don’t feel fear.
Because now you can just turn to the rest of the audience and get
the answers you need. What’s more you end up creating an even
greater safety zone.
And that’s an environment where learning and discussion really
So in conclusion:
1) Don’t hedge.
2) Turn the question over to the audience.
3) Make sure the audience is comfortable right from the start.
4) Use this method of turning the question to the audience several
I sure do!
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