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Olivia Liddell - NDC London 2019 - Think Like a Trainer: Improving Your Communication Skills

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Think back to a time when you were in a conversation that could have gone better. Perhaps you said something the wrong way, or you walked away from the conversation not fully knowing if the other person even understood what you were trying to convey.

Technical trainers rely on effective communication as the foundation of everything that we do. We help end users to learn how to use software and adjust to new workflows, through the process of constantly adapting to different backgrounds, skill levels, and learning styles.

In this session, you’ll learn actionable strategies to begin thinking like a trainer, including:

- Using active listening techniques to communicate with empathy.

- Best practices for explaining technical concepts in non-technical terms.

- Adjusting your communication approach for different communication styles.

- Using problem solving skills to help you get unstuck during difficult conversations.

Published in: Career
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Olivia Liddell - NDC London 2019 - Think Like a Trainer: Improving Your Communication Skills

  1. 1. Think Like a Trainer: Improving Your Communication Skills Olivia Liddell @oliravi
  2. 2. About Me ● Cloud Training Specialist at Cloudbakers ● Former Chicago Public Schools teacher ● First became interested in technology through hacking
  3. 3. “A language is a system in which all the elements fit together,and in which the value of any one element dependson the simultaneous coexistence of all the others.” - Ferdinand de Saussure
  4. 4. Agenda ● Best practices for explaining technical concepts in non-technical terms. ○ Active listening and empathy ● Adjusting your communication approach for different communication styles. ● Using problem solving skills to help you get unstuck during difficult conversations.
  5. 5. Explaining technical concepts in non-technical terms
  6. 6. ● Assumptions of prior knowledge or skill level. ○ “As I’m sure you already know…” ○ Just / simply / obviously ● Dismissive corrections. ○ “Well, actually…” ● Unnecessary technical jargon or acronyms. What to avoid:
  7. 7. ● Use sequence adverbs when listing steps in a process: ○ First / next / then / finally ● Use shorter sentences. ● Check for understanding. ○ “Does that make sense?” ○ “What can I further clarify for you?” What to do:
  8. 8. Active listening: Focus on Paraphrasing and Clarifying
  9. 9. Paraphrasing and Clarifying: “What I hear you saying is…” “As I understand it, you’re having difficulty with…” “Can you tell me more about…?”
  10. 10. Make relevant comparisons. ● Use metaphors and analogies that the other person can relate to. ● Don’t linger on the metaphor for too long. Connect it back to your main point as soon as you can. ● Have a few go-to examples ready to use. Practice!
  11. 11. Make relevant comparisons. ● Multiple layers: Sandwich or lasagna! ● Many options to consider: Buffet! ● Different stages of production: Ingredients → Batter → Cake!
  12. 12. Adjusting your communication approach for different styles
  13. 13. Assertive Passive Aggressive
  14. 14. Assertive Communication Characteristics ● Confident posture ● Attentive facial expression ● Enthusiastic tone of voice Verbal Cues ● “I believe we should…” ● “What alternatives do we have?” ● “In my opinion…”
  15. 15. Assertive Communication How to Respond ● Mirror their body language. ● Show confidence and openness. ● Use “we/our/us” to emphasize collaboration and connectedness.
  16. 16. Passive Communication Characteristics ● Low volume ● Up talk ● Slumping posture ● Avoiding eye contact Verbal Cues ● “This is probably wrong, but…” ● “I guess we could…” ● “...but only if that’s okay with you.”
  17. 17. Passive Communication How to Respond ● Use positive body language. ● Acknowledge their contributions. ● Ask specific follow-up questions.
  18. 18. Aggressive Communication Characteristics ● Loud and yelling tone of voice ● Talking over others ● Rigid posture ● Glaring Verbal Cues ● “You must…” ● “I’m right and you’re wrong.” ● “It must be done this way.”
  19. 19. Aggressive Communication How to Respond ● Stay calm and pause before responding. ● Depersonalize the situation. ● Empathize with them. ● Be proactive, rather than reactive.
  20. 20. Use problem-solving skills to help you get unstuck
  21. 21. Problem-solving methodology ● Break the statement down into smaller pieces. ● Prioritize the pieces, but don’t overthink it. ● Solve them one at a time. ○ Choose a problem-solving strategy to assist you.
  22. 22. Communication problem-solving strategies: Clarify Use a metaphorParaphrase Feel / Felt / FoundPositive framing
  23. 23. “This needs to go back to the way it was before.” I’m feeling anxious... This might negatively affect other stakeholders. Change can be difficult for me. Positive framing Feel / Felt / Found Clarify
  24. 24. ● Empathizing through Feel / Felt / Found: ● “I can understand why you might feel that way.” ● “I’ve worked with other clients who have also felt that it would be better to go back to the previous version.” ● “What I’ve found that can be helpful with adjusting is..."
  25. 25. ● Positive framing: ● Assume positive intent. ● “I recognize that this change affects not just you, but also your entire department.” ● Remind yourself of what brought them to the conversation.
  26. 26. Additional Resources ● MindTools: Metaphorical Thinking ● ACAS: Challenging Conversations and How to Manage Them ● Uncommon Schools: Teach Like a Champion ● Ferdinand de Saussure: Course in General Linguistics (1916)
  27. 27. “A language is a system in which all the elements fit together,and in which the value of any one element dependson the simultaneous coexistence of all the others.” - Ferdinand de Saussure

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