A Clear Vision for Internal Training

Internal training is an excellent option for companies that want a focused, cost-effective solution that empowers talented people within the organization. It’s an excellent way for high-potential professionals to deliver results through teaching and leading their colleagues.

Internal training faces one main hurdle; most of it is not very good.

Your training is only as good as your participants’ actions after your program:

  • Have they acquired new skills and knowledge?
  • Will they use their new skills and knowledge?

Whether your training is internal or external, participants are often handing off, deferring or postponing important work to be in your training. Participation may or may not be their choice. They’re investing their time and attention and deserve value for their investment.

Optimal internal training includes:

  • Highly prepared trainers
  • Action-oriented training material

Highly Prepared Trainers

Clearly, I believe they should be excellent presenters. But being a good trainer is most importantly being a good mentor. It means having a vision for your participants and placing your knowledge at their level; not above nor below. It also means coaching in a way that motivates participants to improve, balancing praise and corrections. Highly prepared trainers are speakers, listeners and observers—Always alert and focused on guiding their participants toward learning objectives.

Action-Oriented Training Method

When you choose or design an internal training method, evaluate:

  • What specifically do I want participants to know/do after the program?
  • What are my criteria for choosing participants?
  • Does it continue or counter a past practice—if so, why?
  • How/when do I measure success?

We have been fortunate to facilitate and witness the success of excellent internal trainers. Few things are more effective to build the confidence of trainers and the skills of their participants.

Vulnerability and Q&A


You've done your research, analyzed your data, organized the information, prepared your visuals. You've rehearsed your presentation several times in your mind and hopefully once or twice in front of colleagues or the mirror. You're now standing before your audience, ready. You've prepared for this moment.You begin your presentation.

At the beginning, you make contact with your audience. You're tight but after about a minute (which can seem like ages) you begin to feel the flow. You're rolling. It's going well.

You're 5 minutes into your presentation when a hand goes up in the audience. Uh oh, what's this? It could be a question or a comment or… So you stop your presentation to acknowledge the audience member. You tensely listen. Your mind is flooded with concern and doubt: What are they asking? Why are they interrupting? Am I not clear? How do I return to my presentation and get back on track? Will this question or comment trigger others? Is that good or bad? Should I tell the audience to hold their questions for the Q&A session?

You listen to the question, answer it and gingerly move on.

You've finished your presentation and now you're ready to take questions… or are you?

You can prepare, rehearse and deliver a strong presentation. Yet, you can never be sure of what the audience will ask you during or at the end of your presentation. What's worse, you have no way of knowing just how they will pose their questions.

They may say, "I have concerns over your recommendation," "How do you see it working?"  Or they can aggressively say, "Your recommendation is ridiculous. It won't work!"

How does one handle this situation, what I call, one of the most vulnerable moments of one's life?

You're basically alone on an island. The audience is shooting arrows at you. You have to skillfully and strategically weathered the storm. If you excel in the Q&A session, you make your mark and you succeed. If you falter, freeze, show weakness or react, you run the risk of professional humiliation and you will remember that moment every day for the rest of your life.

There is no perfect antidote for the potential poison of Q&A. However, here are some tested and tangible skills that will help you immensely:

Prepare: Nothing replaces preparation. Consult with your colleagues or think about what they will ask, where might they attack, possible weak points. I suggest you jot down these question and write down your answers. By writing the questions and your answers, you will feel more prepared, more confident and you will remember your answer when the question is asked.

Rephrase the question for the audience: This is an outstanding technique. After listening to the question, rephrase the question for the audience. This guarantees that everyone in the audience will hear the question and it gives the speaker thinking time to answer the question.

For example, if the audience member asks,

"You're requesting a major investment. How long will it take for us to start making money?"

The speaker will rephrase, "When do we expect to receive a return on our investment?"

In the case of an attack, the audience member may say, "You're idea is ridiculous. It will never work!".

The speaker will rephrase, "Will our idea work?" The speaker will then answer the question of why the idea will work.

With this technique, the speaker has a few additional seconds to think, to position the answer and to deliver it with confidence.

Q&A is never easy. Our techniques and strategies have helped thousands succeed and confidently handle this most vulnerable moment.

Please feel free to share your questions or concerns or a personal anecdote about handling Q&A.

On the Value of Proof in Adult Education

Sometimes a teacher speaks to your spirit and brings light to blind spots obscured by fear. This darkness often serves your comfort, efficiency and emotional stability, but creates little of real value. As educators, it's our job to tear down the curtains, knock down the walls and turn on the lights. Every class is a hypothesis we prove at the end.

A solid proof hits you intellectually and emotionally. Here's one that changed my life:

I was an illustration major, well into my college career, when I entered a drawing class unlike any I had ever taken. Things began conventionally enough: I found a surface, set up my supplies, the model posed and for five minutes I drew a reasonable facsimile. I followed the art school formula: A little charcoal, a little time and a lot of nudity. However, after the five minutes ended, everything changed.

Our professor collected every student's first drawing and boldly promised that when the course was over, our one-minute drawings would be measurably better than the five-minute piece we had just completed. This statement was followed by a colorful assortment of doubtful noises.

It was easy to be skeptical. Our class objectives were often built into personal anecdotes that to my short life and narrow experience gave my teacher a folk hero's stature. It all seemed too grandiose, hyperbolic, every tale felt a little too tall. But when the course was over, I looked down at that first drawing, and in the light of better, quicker pieces; I shed my skepticism. Proof.

I was primed to look for a structure that could produce that result when I joined ERC. Thankfully, I found it. Whether we are listing, then surpassing, your goals or documenting your progress on video, we believe in practice and proof. You test every idea we share and measure it next to your own "five-minute drawing."

How else could we expect you to make it a part of your life?