I have been a trainer for twenty years. When I am in front of a class teaching, I am truly in my element. Like many of my colleagues, I make the stage my own. As I have taught so many others over the years, I use the whole stage. I make eye contact, I try to make every student in the room feel like I am speaking directly to them. It is just one of the tools in my belt that make me a good instructor.
There was a time when I spent most of my time teaching, but over the last few years I have spent most of my time consulting. While that does not allow me to teach as much, it gives me extra credibility when I do teach.
Since losing my job because of Covid-19, I have been doing a lot of training. Unfortunately, also due to Covid-19, my classes have all been online. It just is not the same… speaking to a camera does not give me the same ability to connect with my audience.I have not seen a single one of my students; I have hardly heard any of their voices. It is not the same… I still enjoy it, but I feel disconnected. I am sure my students feel the same way I do.
I hope my students are still learning, but unlike in-person training, I know that many of them are not giving me their full and undivided attention. If they are in their office, then coworkers ask them questions, pull them into meetings, and are even tasked with customer support during the class. Those at home are doing the same, as well as dealing with children, spouses, pets, and whatnot. All this to say that there is no real way that they can maintain their focus. In most cases I know they are learning enough to pass their exams because I get a lot of emails thanking me… but is that the full experience? Is the exam the only goal? If so, then they are satisfied. I like to deliver more.
Next week, for the first time in a very long time, not only will I be teaching a live audience, I will be flying out to do so. I am reticent about the airplane… but I am excited to be able to be live in front of my audience again. Knowing that I will be able to connect with them, to make the stage my own again, to walk among my students and to connect with them… that for an extrovert trainer is like catnip. I have already started planning out my wardrobe, and the fact that I have a brand new laptop means I have spent time making sure I have all of my cables and accessories that I will need in order and ready to go. My Logitech remote for PowerPoint, my Juiced Systems BossDock USB-C docking station (for extra USB ports and HDMI video ports), and my travel mouse are all going to be in my carry-on bag, ready to set up in the training room.
On the first day of class, I will be wearing a suit and tie. On subsequent days I will likely wear slacks and a button-down shirt. I will be teaching military personnel, and while I doubt they will be in uniform, I will be among my own again… I want to look and feel my best.
I do not expect it will be happening often for the time being, and at the end of the week I will be flying home to resume my work-from-home remote routine. While I do not have my next engagement signed yet, I am sure there will be something, and I will be back to working in polo shirts and slacks, staring at my Logi 930C 1080P web camera. Maybe, if I am ambitious, I will finally set my office up to be able to stand and teach. Just knowing that I will have one in-person engagement to break up the remote Teams-Zoom-Adobe monotony will broken up for one week is a great relief.
Of course, knowing that my in-person engagement will take me to Tampa for the week, home of Sunday’s Super Bowl game, my favourite steakhouse in North America, and some of the best cigar lounges in the country, does not hurt one bit!
I will come back to California and self-quarantine… but next week is going to be a great time!