Leadership

Watch your body language

If you want to be an effective trainer, you can't simply know the material. Let your moves and mannerisms command the attention of your class.

Take a look in the mirror. Take a long look. Smile. Frown. Make silly faces. Hold your hand up, open palm. Point towards something. Turn to the side and look at your posture. Bend down; walk around. Watch yourself speak.

Why are you doing this?
  • A. Because I asked you to.
  • B. Because you secretly want to and this is a valid reason.
  • C. Because this is how your students see you.

Your body language in the classroom is extremely important. How you move, talk, and listen speaks volumes about you. I don't care if you're the smartest instructor in your city; poor understanding of the little nuances that create a positive classroom environment will undermine your credibility at every turn. Let's examine some body language that will help you command (and keep) the attention and respect of your students.

Your smiling face
Make a solid entrance. Keep things vibrant and exciting. Stop by your room before class so you can personally greet any individuals who may be early. The early students are usually those who have never been to your business. Take this PERFECT opportunity to greet them, ask them about their business, and create a rapport. Bingo, instant friend.

After greeting these people, you should leave the room, allowing those individuals to talk about you. Any positive comments will be reverberated through all students, reinforcing your credibility. Return on time and enter the classroom with a huge smile, taking time to make eye contact with as many students as you can. Smiles are infectious. Try wearing yours often.

It’s in your eyes
Your eyes say quite a bit about you, so make eye contact often. When you are speaking to a class, try to maintain eye contact with a student throughout a sentence. Shift your gaze to another student every time you begin a new sentence. This creates the impression that you are speaking directly to each person. Never look at the ground when answering questions unless you are (or appear to be) contemplating an answer. Directly speaking while looking down is a sign of lying, while pausing speech and looking down is seen as a way to focus your thought process. Secret Tip: Attempt to speak a full sentence and possibly more without blinking your eyes. Subconsciously, people tend to give more respect to individuals who can do this because they appear to have more control. In addition, it's pretty cool to win stare downs.

Straighten up
Maintain correct posture. Keep your back straight and shoulders even. Turn to face questions whenever possible and keep your feet planted on the ground, so as not to shuffle or tap them. Keep moving around the room, if possible, and never turn your back to the students unless you're writing on a board.

Involved questions that require your presence at a student's computer should be handled by meeting the student at his/her level. This means you should kneel at the computer station and make eye contact with the student. This makes the student comfortable because you are temporarily bringing yourself to their level. Remember your grade school teachers and the way they would stand over you and hit you in the head with rulers (maybe that was just me)? I distinctly recall my fifth-grade teacher kneeling next to our desks when we had a question. Pediatricians suggest you do this with children to gain their trust and bolster their confidence in you. I rest my case.

It's a matter of trust
These tips seem simple but take a while to master. Acting natural within a group of people is one thing. Creating respect and fostering trust while teaching is another. Use, but do NOT abuse, these tips. Your students will be the better for it. And no rulers in the classroom please.

Schoun Regan, a consultant to training firms, crosses the continent conducting numerous classes for Complete Mac Seminars. Follow this link to write to Schoun .

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