Based on my 20 years’ experience on the ‘receiving’ (client) side and 15+ years on the ‘giving’ (trainer/teacher) side, here are my thoughts on what it takes to be an effective international trainer:

    Ten Tips for International Trainers

    1. Start well in advance. This is always challenging because budgets and approvals can block pre-planning activities but try and maintain progress even if it’s conditional on final approval.
    2. Insist on a complete brief and then confirm all key details via Skype® and in writing. There is no substitute for direct communication, especially if the client’s written English is not a strength.
    3. Confirm early on who is on the client team. If a regional training session is involved, key stakeholders may be based in different markets.  Who are the key line managers? Is there a training manager involved? Is HR involved? Keep the entire team informed and regularly confirm their agreement.
    4. Identify longer lead-time issues and confirm agreement to goals and key activities. Examples include: venue, number of participants, budget, pre-workshop preparation such as readings, pre-workshop communication to participants, small group composition, and use of and specific case studies. Some materials may require payment of licensing fees and/or ordering lead-times.
    5. Arrive one day in advance to confirm all venue arrangements and minimize potential disruption from delayed travel connections and jet-lag. Meet with hotel conference staff. Confirm start/finish times and break/meal times and arrangements. Check out technology like audio/projection systems, WiFi, lighting controls, etc.  Check out/use the fitness centre facilities. Get a good night’s rest.
    6. Insist on an in-person meeting with a client representative the day before the first training day. Are there any last-minute additions/changes required? How will any client ‘observers’ interact with the group? Any changes/fine- tuning to the schedule? For example, in Muslim countries, should prayers times be accommodated?
    7. Minimize distractions/maximize engagement during the training. For the past few years, I have insisted on collecting mobile phones which are returned during breaks. Some cultures are more ‘discussion-oriented’ which can be a challenge/opportunity. Use a ‘parking lot’ to note any topics that cannot be fully resolved during the session. Take frequent breaks. Intersperse ‘heavy’ content with short videos, exercises, and games that reinforce key concepts.
    8. Speak slowly and clearly using less complex English. Summarize key points frequently. Use plenty of illustrations.
    9. Check for understanding by using short quizzes, talking to participants at breaks and ‘insiders’ who will give you honest/candid feedback. Try using a short anonymous survey at the end of day 1 that asks two simple questions: i. Are you satisfied with the training so far? and ii. How could it be improved?
    10. Follow-up after the session with a timely and thorough report/conversation to ensure that the client was delighted and to explore extra-value activities. These could include additional training, access to self-learning resources, key concept reminders, etc. Follow-up again in 3-6 months to check in.
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