Trainer / Facilitator tips: How to cope with those pre-course “jitters”


A few years ago some folk in the USA put out a survey (1973 Bruskin survey) about people’s greatest fears. One fear that topped the list, was the fear of speaking in public. One can, I suppose debate the merits of this survey and it’s results but the truth is, most people I have spoken to have all admitted to having a fear of speaking in public.

Even though I have over twenty years experience as a facilitator / trainer, I still feel a tinge of nervousness each and every time I stand in front of a class to run a training session. In fact, I am almost inclined to say that the day I don’t feel this way, is the day I ought to give up being a facilitator / trainer because, in essence, this means that I have acquired a certain amount of over-confidence! I have always maintained that a little nervousness, a rush of adrenalin, is always a good boost before the start of any training intervention!

“How do you cope?” you may ask. I try to set all my learners at ease as soon as possible and normally find that by the time I have cracked my first joke (often at myself) the pre-course jitters all but disappear. Just remember though, that not all trainers can get away with humour, so do be careful!

Remember that no matter how little you know, chances are good that you know more than the learners. Bear in mind too that as much as you can teach your learners a thing or two, it is a two-way street and they can teach you much too!

Remember that the golden rule when public speaking is to always have a great beginning and a great ending. Try to capture your target audience right from the start.

The introduction should contain:

  • · The course title
  • · Objectives (or learning outcomes) so that the learners know what to expect
  • · Ground Rules for learners (cell phones to silent, mutual respect etc)
  • · Learner Expectations

And of course, it is always a great idea to add an ice breaker – just ensure that it is relevant to your topic!

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