Even as a seasoned trainer and speaker, Eric Papp still uses visualization before training sessions and presentations. The night before a management seminar, for example, he gets permission to go into the conference room where he will present the next day. He pulls up a chair, closes his eyes, and visualizes how he will greet audience members, move around the room, and facilitate group activities, as well as how audience members will react and become engaged in his presentation.
Papp, who is president of Results-Based Seminars, LLC, and author of Leadership by Choice: Increasing Influence and Effectiveness through Self-Management (www.EricPapp.com), says visualization is a powerful preparation tool for trainers. “When you visualize, you see the outcome that you want to have. We get, oftentimes, what we expect.”
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Visualization, which can take as little as 10 to 20 minutes, also boosts your confidence by settling your nerves, getting you comfortable at the front of the room, and putting you in a “relaxed, meditative state,” he explains. “Preparation begets confidence. The more preparation you have, the more confident you are.”
Visualization also reminds trainers to focus on learners during training—not just on themselves. “Most people solely focus on themselves.”
However, Papp says it is important to visualize learners as well—to “see” them engaged and excited about the training topic and to focus on what you want them to do (e.g., make eye contact with you, lean forward in their seats, laugh at your jokes, answer and ask questions, and so forth).
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He recommends visualizing as many details as possible, including your nervousness before the session, how you present your opener and how learners react to it, pacing, timing, watching learners take notes, seeing them nod, and shaking their hands at the end of training.
For some trainers, using visualization once before a training session will be enough. Others, especially new trainers, might benefit from doing so several times, Papp says.