A lot of trainer will say the same, one of the major problem when training adults is to connect with them and make them feel accepted so you can set a safe and efficient learning environment.
Here are some tricks and tips on how to setup this safe learning environment.
1 – Be early.
You have to be the first one coming in the classroom, at least on the first day so you can spend at least a few seconds with each attendee. If like me you get groups of 5 to 10 participants, it is not impossible to have a little word with them as they enter. It is very seldom when they all come at the same time. Remember that you have only one chance of making a first impression. If the first impression of you is being late you are starting pretty bad.
2 – Meet and greet everyone.
Meet and greet each and every attendee personally. Shake hand, say hi. No need to say too much yet. The purpose is not to start a lenghty conversation because you have other people coming too. Of course that all depends on the time and the country. This week in India I couldn’t start my course before 1030 although the official start time was 1000. That is because most could not come before but some of them could. So I got a lot of time to get more acquainted with the early ones and I put my focus on the other ones later on.
3 – Be interested in them.
What is the favorite subject of conversation of everyone? Me myself and I. So be interested in your trainees. Not only on a professional point of view but also on a personal level. If one of them is arriving earlier than the others, ask him how he came to the meeting room and how long it took and how early did he have to wake up. Did he have to fly this morning? Is he coming straight from the airport?
4 – The handshake.
Everybody likes a good handshake. Show your appreciation of the situation by acknowledging the attendees with a firm and strong handshake. No need to tear their arm though, you still need them. One trick I have tried and approve, when you shake a hand and you want to make sure the impression stays, when you want to make you are going to connect, try to put a finger on the pulse of the other person. Just make sure it is done in a natural and not forced way otherwise it will really look awkward.
5 – Look into my eyes, look into my eyes…
Too often salesmen, public speakers and basically anyone else make the mistake of having a vague undetermined boring look in their eye. That is because they are not really looking at you. Try the following exercise next time you have to engage with someone. Look them for no more than 3 seconds and try to get the following characteristics. Precise eye color (blue or green doesn’t count, make it more precise), short or long eye lashes, wearing glasses or not, what shape of glasses? Is he/she wearing eye contact, does that make his/her eyes clearer or darker? Are the eyes close to each other or far? Is he/she blinking a lot? How many blinks? With a bit of practice you will develop a hability to catch these things very fast which will give you a dense profound and interesting look. People will want to look into your eyes. You are interested in them and they are interested in that.