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ARTICLES

Below are a sample of short articles contributed by Michael in the Recruit Page of the Straits Times:

1. Creating your own Rice Bowl – Home Based Business
2. Filling your own Rice Bowl with Rice – Home Based Business
3. Second Career as Trainers – Training Business
4. Be a Trainer – Training Business
5. Ingredients of a Successful Trainer – Training Business
6. Ingredients of a Successful Workshop – Training Business
7. Declaring Your Passions – Community Contribution
8. Visual Aids – Presentation Skills
9. Anchoring – NLP
10. Rapport – NLP

1. Creating your own Rice Bowl

Many dream of being your own boss. The first step of your dream can be realized if you know how to set up a home-based business

With the current economic down turn and the rapid loss of jobs, the choice of being an entrepreneur operating out of your home is more encouraging. The government is encouraging Singaporeans to be more entrepreneurially minded. HDB is relaxing its regulations to allow more flats to be used as home offices. Now is a good opportunity for you to be your own boss, creating your own rice bowl instead of begging with a rice bowl.

Be fair to your neighbours

You can establish a small-scale business from your home, provided it does not generate much traffic or cause noise and environment pollution. Ensure that your business will not cause disturbances to your neighbourhood. Otherwise, it is not fair to your neighbours who may have bought their homes for its peaceful environment.

What home-based businesses are permitted?

Good examples of home-based businesses are secretarial services, bookkeeping, editing, writing, translation, art direction, design and layout, research, web design, software, reminder service, home delivery, courier, photocopy, cleaning and sewing. For eight years, I have been operating a lucrative training consultancy business out of an under-utilized room located on the third level of my house.

If you have specialized skills, you can operate a consultancy service in advertising, marketing, interior or print design, public relations, finance and management consultancy. In consultancy business, you visit your clients more than they visit you. If you need to meet your clients, you can organize meetings in hotels, restaurants or coffee joints. In fact, consultancy businesses are one of the most profitable categories of home businesses.

A home-based business in a HDB flat should not have more than two employees.

What home-based businesses are disallowed?

Businesses that are not suitable for home-based operation are retail outlets, maid agencies, commercial schools, food catering, car trading, massage services, food outlets and laundry. These businesses either generated too much customer traffic or have environment pollution. A full-fledged office is disallowed.

Office Space

The best home office space is a dedicated room. You will have less distraction. If you cannot afford to spare a room, then partition a corner of your living room and convert it to an office. Inform your family member that this corner is your work space so that they will respect your privacy.

What equipment do you need?

Basic equipments you need are PC, printer, fax machine and telephone. If your budget permits, you can spoil yourself with a laser and inkjet colour printer. You can have two lines – one for fax machine and the other for your land line. If space permit, you can have a stereo set and cabled TV which is essential in some industry like public relations or investment consulting.


Furniture

You will need a table, chairs, table lighting and bookshelves as your home office furniture. Arrange your equipment ergonomically around you, so that you can be productive in your work. You have a choice of buying second hand furniture or inexpensive knock-down furniture and assemble it yourself at home.

Stationery

Equip your home office with basic stationery like invoice, letterheads, envelopes and files. Organize your files systemically so that you will not waste time hunting for that piece of paper. Three useful ways for filing are alphabetically, by subject matter or clients. Use different coloured files, papers and pens to aid productivity.

Since you are probably working alone at home, you may like to decorate your room more office like. Hang motivational posters on empty walls. Fill empty spaces with productivity tools like table top calendars, notepads, calculator, coloured paper clips and inspirational paraphernalia.

Remain contactable

Modern technology allows us to be highly mobile. Invest in mobile phone, Palm top and notebook. This allows you to be contactable at all time and you can work anywhere anytime. In my case, I have two mobile phones – one Palmtop combined with mobile phone for free incoming phone calls and another mobile for outgoing calls. In the long run, you’ll save.

Office Address

For your mailing address, you may use a prestigious service office in the central business district. Service offices can also answer your phone calls in your company name and redirect them to either your home phone or your mobile. If you need to hold meetings, they have meeting rooms for you to rent.

Name Card

It is the most important piece of paper that sells you and your services. Invest in a tastefully designed name card that portrays a good image of your company. List your contact numbers and your services in your card. Choose a simple and easily company name. It helps if you have easy-to-recall phone and fax numbers.

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2. Filling your own Rice Bowl with Rice

After setting up a home-based business, how do you ensure you succeed?

The main advantages of setting a home-based business are cost and convenience. Firstly, you save a big chunk on rental. Secondly, while working at home you have the flexibility and convenience of being close to your children or parents.

However, there are also disadvantages. Clients may not patronize you if they know you operate out of your house. The home environment may not be conducive for the conduct of your business. It can either be too comfortable or distracting. If you want to be a successful home-based entrepreneur, be determined to succeed.

Adopt a new mindset

Hitherto, you have a nice office with colleagues whom you can pick and choose to relate too. Now you are a lone ranger and an all rounder – boss, delivery boy, cleaner, clerk. The structure and security you once have as an employee have vanished. You have to adopt a totally new mindset – that of a home entrepreneur. It is lonely and risky venturing out there by yourself. However, the challenges are great and the rewards satisfying.

Discipline yourself

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of self discipline. It is human to be lax in the home-office. Have a fixed time to start work. Otherwise, you find yourself over-indulging yourself in the morning papers, breakfast, TV, household chores or with your children. At the scheduled time, go to your workstation as if you are going to office and work seriously. If you do this consistently, this becomes a good anchoring habit for the rest of your business life. Some of my friends even dress up in office attire before stepping into the home office.

Make yourself productive

Have a schedule for the day and week. Plan the week ahead on Sunday evening or Monday morning. Do the most difficult or creative work when your mind is at its peak. If you need to run errands or meet your clients outside, plan to do them consecutively so minimize traveling time. Stick to your schedule; otherwise you find yourself raiding the fridge, glue to the favourite TV soap opera or sink in your comfortable bed. If you plan your schedule, you find you maximize your time.

Keep yourself driven

If you are driven, you get things done. Reward yourself regularly if you obtain results. Treat yourself to a well-deserved movie, meal or a small gift. Display motivational calendars or posters. Read inspirational biographies. Talk to like-minded home entrepreneurs. Set daily and weekly objectives and strive to achieve them. For instance, if you need to make 50 cold calls to prospective customers, plan to make 10 calls a day in the afternoon when your energy level goes down. This action keeps you both mentally alert and makes full use of your time.

Stay motivated with friends

Operating a home-based business is a lonely affair. Many a times, you feel are lonely and frustrated. Be connected to friends. Join a networking group. By meeting other entrepreneurs, you will realize your problems are not unique to yourself. Other home-based entrepreneurs suffered the same problem too. Meet new friends. They offer a new perspective to problems and new insights to opportunities. Take the initiative to call them regularly to keep yourself in the loop. Keep yourself abreast of times by participating in workshops, attending talks and reading books and journals.

Market Yourself

No one knows how good you are unless they know you. Market yourself through networking, community work, talks, journals and writings. Ask your satisfied clients to give you referrals and testimonials. Pick the telephone and make the dreaded cold calls. Learn that saying “NO” is not rejection but is a way of saying they are not prepared to accept your services now.

Don’t quit

Many home-based entrepreneurs quit because they do not have staying power. The successful entrepreneurs are those who persist and never-say-die. They are stayers, not quitters. As you prolong in this business, you are more experienced and more referrals will pour in. Your business will eventually grow as mine did.

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3. Executives commence their second career as trainers

After spending years wandering in the corporate wilderness, seven executives answer to their true calling - training

Most executives, after working many years, wonder if they are in the right job. One may label this as the mid-life crisis. When you have changes in your family and lifestyle, you also have different commitment and expectations. After much reflection, they make mid-stream career switches.

Six executives, caught in the whirlpool of midlife, deliberated on their next career move. Recently, they make a conscious career switch to be trainers. They enrolled in a 3 month Diploma in Training organized by Atlantic International University. Among the subjects they learn are training needs analysis, lessons plans marketing, voice charisma, NLP, Transaction Analysis and upfront delivery. A crucial component of the program involves participants to speak and present in front of the class. The graduating project requires participants to present a training session in front of a live audience.

The six executives are Joseph Kuan, a regional manager, Lionel Lim, a retired armed forces officer, Derrick Loi, a sales manager, Allen Ang, a financial practitioner, Regina Chua, previously an executive with an American MNC and Sng-Fun Poh Yoke, an ex-airline executive.

Joseph Kuan, who also volunteered in Boys Brigade, enrolled for the diploma program so that he can venture overseas to conduct training. Allen Ang, armed with a MBA, participated with an objective of getting rid of his speaking fears in public. The program provides ample opportunities for participants to train before an audience.

Lionel Lim, retired early from the armed forces, is too young to retire but too old to look for another job, participated in the program to start a second career as a training consultant. While he had ample training experiences in the armed forces, he acknowledged he lack the private sector audience. The diploma program teaches him the skills of handling difficult participants in a workshop and how to answer difficult questions which he did not encounter while training in uniformed groups.

After they graduate, the organizer organized a one-day public seminar where participants roll out their training programs in a “rubber meets the road” scenario. Beyond the comforts and familiarity of the usual training classroom, the trainers meet the public for the first time in baptism of fire. Ignorant of background and expectations of the audience, they are to deliver their program to meet the training objectives in a real-time environment.

Recently, these six executives have their first taste of conducting a public seminar at the YMCA. It was titled “Renew and Recharge 2004” with topics appropriate for starting the new year with the right life skills. Topics include goal formation, managing yourself between work and family, bringing order in your life, influencing with NLP, managing your children and financial skills. About a hundred people from various walks of life came to be trained by the six new trainers.

Derrick Loi, 36, exclaimed, “I feel fantastic as I was able to speak in a public seminar for the first time in my life. It boosts my confidence tremendously.”

Allen Ang, 39, conducted a mini-workshop on managing your finances. He conquered his public speaking fears that he philosophized, “It is not how much fear you have or how much courage you possess to conquer your fear. Just do it.”

The diploma program was conducted by two master trainers, Michael Lum and Ernest Chen, who between them have over 30 years of training experience. They have trained thousands of executives in the region.

Michael Lum, author of Who Broke My Rice Bowl? explained, “After training for so many years, I want to transfer my training technology to new trainers. The best way to share my skills is through this ‘train-the-trainer’ diploma program.”

Ernest Chen, generally regarded as the father of the Toastmaster movement in Singapore shared,” The enthusiasm displayed by these executives coupled with their working experiences make them excellent trainers.”

Trainers can set up their training consultancy at home. This home-based business just requires a mobile phone, computer, printer and a desk. The rest is all in your head – intellectual property.

Regina, 38, mother of 3 kids, had recently completed her marketing assignment with an American MNC in China. She is excited about embarking her new career as a corporate trainer.

Regina disclosed,” Working from home allows me to focus on the needs of my busy household and my three children. With this peace of mind, I can confidently concentrate on training assignment without stressing myself out. It is a dream job for any corporate mum with entrepreneurial aspirations.”

Regina delivered a time-management workshop which wowed the audience.

Lionel is marketing his licensed Emotional Quotient program both to institutions as well as conducting it as a public program. His ambition is to develop a full fledged training consultancy business. His leadership experience in the armed forces comes handy in fulfilling his dreams.

Make a difference in people’s lives.

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4. Be a trainer

There are many business and career opportunities for trainers during this economic downturn. Michael Lum shows you the roadmap to be a trainer.


Trainer? The first image that comes to your mind is an animal trainer with a whip in a zoo or a dog trainer with a whistle in a pet farm. Not only animals can be trained. People can be trained too and their performance improves thereafter.

In this economic downturn with many people unemployed, there exists an excellent opportunity for training. The Government has announced that a new statutory board will be formed. Called Workforce Development Agency, it will focus on adult continuing education and training. Training and retraining workers ensure they are employable. Additionally, many companies and government department are using this lull time to upgrade their employees’ skills. Schools have on-going enrichment programs.

What areas do you train?

How do you decide what area to specialize in training? Firstly, it can be based on your education. If you are study finance, you may want to trained finance subjects like “Accounting for non-accounting executives”. Secondly, it can be based on your training. If you are in the sales and your company sends you for intensive customer service training, you can in turn trains others in same subject. Thirdly, it can be on your profession. If you are working as a human resource executive, you can train in HR areas like interviewing skills and job appraisals. Fourthly, your passion can be a source of your training. If you love public speaking and love to persuade the audience, you can teach presentation skills. Lastly, as you trained, you will discover new areas of interest and opportunities which you can develop into a training program. A health-nut friend of mine market and conduct his healthy lifestyle programs quite successfully. Although I was trained as an accountant, I worked as a general manager in MNCs. While training management topics, I developed an interest in creative thinking which slowly evolved as my most profitable training program.

How can you be trained as a trainer?

It is beneficial to take up a program in training as a start. It gives you the basic structure and foundation about training. Interconex Management offers an eight week Diploma in action-based training from Atlantic International University. Besides classroom teaching, participants must participate and speak regularly in front of his class.

A diploma in training helps to open doors when you present your training programs to HR managers. On-the-job training and continuous self-learning with constant feedback hone in your skills as a trainer. A diploma is only a start to your business or career. Subsequent success is based purely on your ability to deliver life-changing training programs.

Who are your potential clients?

Major segments of the market who purchase training programs and contract trainers are schools, institutions, community centres, government, corporations and MNCs. Certain public institutions and associations like NUS Extension and YMCA market training programs to the public. Members of the public who wants to upgrade themselves can enroll in these programs. A few students of mine deliver regular team-building and self-esteem programs to schools. Another organize study skills camps during school holidays.

Types of trainers

You can operate as a freelance trainer or a sole proprietor who operate out of the comforts of your home. The cost of one-man-operation from a home-office is very low. The major cost is photocopying of manuals, transport and training materials. Alternatively, you can opt to work as a stand-up trainer with one of the major institutions, corporations or with the Government. You can also work-full time and train part-time in the evenings and weekends.

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5. Qualities of a Successful Trainer

If you are the type that always likes to share your skills with others, then this job is cut for you. Successful trainers impact participants and make a difference in their lives. The ability to reduce complicated theories into simple facts is a gifted ability. Other traits of an impelling trainer are high EQ, excellent communication skills, wide expanse of knowledge and clear presentation skills. The ability to build instant rapport with the participants, humour, humility and to take constructive feedback are other qualities a trainer should have. Training is a people-oriented job. This implies you must like people and love engaging them.

How to start as a trainer?

In diploma in training classes, master trainer like me will motivate students to speak in class as if they are the trainer. Students will deliver portions of their training programs regularly in class. Upon graduation, there are opportunities to speak in front of public. Start with one-hour talks to non-paying audience in not-for-profit organizations like community clubs first. If audience does not pay for a one-hour talk, they are more forgiving to virgin trainers. As you gather more knowledge and confidence, you are deliver longer training programs and charge so that you have income. My longest training program for my clients ranges from 5 to 9 days. Speak in public whenever you have the opportunity. This will conveniently lead you to keynote speaking, master-of-ceremony and game master assignments which I had the pleasure of hosting.

What makes a successful trainer?

Is training is your blood? Michael Lum lists the ingredients that make an excellent trainer.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you know the ingredients that make you a world-class trainer? And wouldn’t it be wonderful if you can harness these ingredients to aid you in the delivery of a successful workshop?

There is no single ingredient that makes you an excellent trainer. Just like it takes many hands to build a house, many ingredients contribute to the success of a trainer. And the combination of these ingredients varies from workshops to workshops from time to time.

Rapport building

Workshops do not start at nine in the morning. It begins as soon as you arrive at the training room at eight. After arranging your logistics, make attempts to build rapport with your participants. Meet and greet them as soon as they enter the training room. Make an effort to get to know them better. Talk and listen to them on neutral topics, for example, food, education, work and if they have any difficulty finding the training venue. Avoid touching sensitive subjects in religion, culture, sex and politics. Rapport building is an integral part of Neuro-Linguistics Programming.

If you can create rapport with your participants, delivery of the workshop will be easy to facilitate. Remember, participants want to find a workshop fulfilling and want you to succeed as a trainer.

Employ variety

In the delivery of your workshop, a good trainer employs variety of training methods. Lectures are the least effective. Research shows that after 2 weeks, an average participant remembers only 2% of the lecture contents. As every participant learning style is different, your safest bet is to employ variety to impact them. Load your workshop with group discussion, individual presentation, story telling, teach back, case studies, role plays, drama-acting, puzzles, games, physical exercises and debates. Use a variety of audio-visual aids like videos, audio, flip charts, posters, diagrams, Post-It pads and Baroque music.

When there is variety, you can be assured there is never a dull moment. In the afternoon, especially after lunch, where participants are drowsy, employ active exercises to keep them on their toes.

Change attitudes

The main objective of a workshop is to make attitudinal changes and make a difference in their lives. For example, if a salesman is frightened of making cold calls, a trainer’s duty is to eradicate that fear and embolden him to pick up that telephone, make that dreaded phone call and visit the prospective client unknown to him. If your workshop is a life-changing one, your participants will forever be indebted to you.

Therefore, your lesson plans, manuals and exercises are constructed to impact participants’ lives and change their attitudes. Sometimes, a good trainer has to exaggerate his anecdotes, metaphors and exercises so that participants can remember it. At other times, a confident trainer throws challenges at the participants and invites them to pick up the gauntlet.

A step ahead

A good trainer must not train what participants already knows. Otherwise, they are wasting their time. He must research and organizes his lesson plan so that participants can enrich themselves from the workshop. Employ active learning methods where participants can share their experiences and learn from others in the class. Make learning fun and easy to learn. Otherwise participants will find the lessons difficult and the trainer threatening. A trainer’s duty is to create a non-threatening learning environment where participants find it conducive to learn.

Keep “a step ahead” philosophy in both the design and delivery of your workshop. One way of staying ahead in training technologies is to attend “train-the-trainer” or certification programs. Times change and a responsible trainer must keep himself relevant with new technologies.

Strip tease

Training is like a strip tease performance. Do not disclose everything within the first hour. Otherwise there is nothing to keep participants excited. Always have surprises every hour to keep participants interested. Workshops are interesting if they do not know what is around the corner. Participants love surprises just a child opening a wrapper without knowing what is inside. Motivate them to learn by awarding them small knick-knacks or bite-size chocolate bars.

The design of the lesson plan and stand-up delivery are crucial in injection of the “strip-tease” element into the workshop.

Stay on course

Map out the main learning outcome of the workshop. What are the learning points you want participants to take home? What do you want participants to do when they leave? These must be made known at the outset of the workshop. Throughout your conduct of the workshop, you must stay on course to reach your objectives. Sometimes, trainers get distracted or carried away by their pet subject, story or exercise.

Facilitating a workshop is akin to sailing. Put the sail up for power and keep the rudder for the right direction. If you deliver a workshop with a powerful punch but head towards the wrong direction, your efforts are negated.

Impacting people’s life with a “killer” training program

Michael Lum shares with you the ingredients of a successful training workshop.

Just like many hands build a house, many ingredients contribute to the success of a workshop. The focus of the workshop is to change participants’ attitude and make an impact in their lives. This is achieved through meticulous planning and effective delivery of a workshop.

Set realistic objectives

Setting objectives give a clear indication of what is to be achieved at a workshop. Define the performance standards you want to attain. Through setting of objectives, trainers have a better insight of the behaviour they are seeking to change. Participants are aware of requirement of the workshop. This helps to allay any fears or uncertainty participants generally harbour before the workshop. Corporations can justify an adequate return on their investment in training. Objectives must be stated in positive and action verbs.

Create an interesting lesson plan

An effective lesson plan focuses on areas which need emphasis. It ensures that resources are available and are utilized fully. A lesson plan ensures that nothing is overlooked or under-emphasized. In a workshop, learning should be made as easy to learn as possible. Divide materials into three major sections: must know, should know and good to know. Cover the “must know” section first. If time permits, incorporate the others.

Do your homework

Check the number and educational level of the participants. It is pertinent to check their level of understanding of the subject matter. Trainers should state the optimal number of participants in their initial submission. Consider the availability and accessibility of training equipment and materials. Is there enough time for the trainer to deliver the workshop and reach its objectives? Consider the “lull” period in the afternoon where participants are not at their peak performance level.

Use a variety of training methods

There are many ways to skin a cat. In training, use different ways in the workshop because participants learn differently. Traditionally, many trainers lecture. Lectures are the most ineffective and boring mode of transmission of knowledge. Consider others like role plays, group discussion, presentation, brainstorming, games, case studies and outdoor exercises. If you use variety in training, participants will have no lapses to be bored. As the name “workshop” suggest, participants must work during a workshop.

Ask questions

An effective trainer can ask quality questions and response adequately to questions from the floor. Training questions are asked to arouse interest from participants. A well-timed and relevant question excites participants and the trainer can lead them into the topic. Trainers can involve participants by asking them questions. Questioning also stimulate thinking and thus learning by participants. Even if there is no verbal response, participants do ponder over the question. Trainers can also ask testing questions which help to check the level of participants’ understanding. Always acknowledge answers from participants. Thank them. If response is wrong, correct them politely.

Create rapport with participants

The conduct of a successful workshop rests heavily on rapport. If a good rapport is established between the trainer and the participants, learning is easier. Participants want the trainer to succeed. Recognize and get to know the participants. Involve them in exercises and games. Be humble. Do not boast of your achievements and what great things you can achieve. Encourage participants to learn without any fear of failure. If they are ignorant, do not make them feel inadequate. Be empathetic towards their feelings.

Positive body language

One good way of establishing rapport is to smile. It is the cheapest and most effective way of gaining trust from your participants. Smiling make you relaxed. Participants will find you non-threatening and therefore more willing to learn and participate in your exercises. Greet participants at the start of the workshop with a firm handshake. Stand tall with a good posture. Be open in your gestures like stretching forward your arms. Look at participants when you talk to them. Be neat in your appearance. Dressing must be appropriate. No t-shirts or jeans please.

Use audio visual aids

Use music to enhance the quality of your training. Music keeps participants relaxed and inspired to learn. Otherwise, the silence in the room can dampen their enthusiasm. Music keeps the level of energy high. Many people are visual learners. Use flip charts, whyteboards, overhead projector, videos and computer. They make learning fun and easy to learn.

Room logistics

Arrange the room in clusters with 4 to 6 participants to a cluster. Ensure that all participants have a good view of the trainer. Air-condition temperature must be comfortable. It is good to rotate participants in different clusters so that they can network. One training session should not last more than one and a half hours. Have ready supply of beverages and finger-food during tea-breaks. Check with participants from time to time if they are comfortable in the workshop. Respect your time. Begin and end the workshop on time.

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6. Impacting people’s life with a “killer” training program

Michael Lum shares with you the ingredients of a successful training workshop.

Just like many hands build a house, many ingredients contribute to the success of a workshop. The focus of the workshop is to change participants’ attitude and make an impact in their lives. This is achieved through meticulous planning and effective delivery of a workshop.

Set realistic objectives

Setting objectives give a clear indication of what is to be achieved at a workshop. Define the performance standards you want to attain. Through setting of objectives, trainers have a better insight of the behaviour they are seeking to change. Participants are aware of requirement of the workshop. This helps to allay any fears or uncertainty participants generally harbour before the workshop. Corporations can justify an adequate return on their investment in training. Objectives must be stated in positive and action verbs.

Create an interesting lesson plan

An effective lesson plan focuses on areas which need emphasis. It ensures that resources are available and are utilized fully. A lesson plan ensures that nothing is overlooked or under-emphasized. In a workshop, learning should be made as easy to learn as possible. Divide materials into three major sections: must know, should know and good to know. Cover the “must know” section first. If time permits, incorporate the others.

Do your homework

Check the number and educational level of the participants. It is pertinent to check their level of understanding of the subject matter. Trainers should state the optimal number of participants in their initial submission. Consider the availability and accessibility of training equipment and materials. Is there enough time for the trainer to deliver the workshop and reach its objectives? Consider the “lull” period in the afternoon where participants are not at their peak performance level.

Use a variety of training methods

There are many ways to skin a cat. In training, use different ways in the workshop because participants learn differently. Traditionally, many trainers lecture. Lectures are the most ineffective and boring mode of transmission of knowledge. Consider others like role plays, group discussion, presentation, brainstorming, games, case studies and outdoor exercises. If you use variety in training, participants will have no lapses to be bored. As the name “workshop” suggest, participants must work during a workshop.

Ask questions

An effective trainer can ask quality questions and response adequately to questions from the floor. Training questions are asked to arouse interest from participants. A well-timed and relevant question excites participants and the trainer can lead them into the topic. Trainers can involve participants by asking them questions. Questioning also stimulate thinking and thus learning by participants. Even if there is no verbal response, participants do ponder over the question. Trainers can also ask testing questions which help to check the level of participants’ understanding. Always acknowledge answers from participants. Thank them. If response is wrong, correct them politely.

Create rapport with participants

The conduct of a successful workshop rests heavily on rapport. If a good rapport is established between the trainer and the participants, learning is easier. Participants want the trainer to succeed. Recognize and get to know the participants. Involve them in exercises and games. Be humble. Do not boast of your achievements and what great things you can achieve. Encourage participants to learn without any fear of failure. If they are ignorant, do not make them feel inadequate. Be empathetic towards their feelings.

Positive body language

One good way of establishing rapport is to smile. It is the cheapest and most effective way of gaining trust from your participants. Smiling make you relaxed. Participants will find you non-threatening and therefore more willing to learn and participate in your exercises. Greet participants at the start of the workshop with a firm handshake. Stand tall with a good posture. Be open in your gestures like stretching forward your arms. Look at participants when you talk to them. Be neat in your appearance. Dressing must be appropriate. No t-shirts or jeans please.

Use audio visual aids

Use music to enhance the quality of your training. Music keeps participants relaxed and inspired to learn. Otherwise, the silence in the room can dampen their enthusiasm. Music keeps the level of energy high. Many people are visual learners. Use flip charts, whyteboards, overhead projector, videos and computer. They make learning fun and easy to learn.

Room logistics

Arrange the room in clusters with 4 to 6 participants to a cluster. Ensure that all participants have a good view of the trainer. Air-condition temperature must be comfortable. It is good to rotate participants in different clusters so that they can network. One training session should not last more than one and a half hours. Have ready supply of beverages and finger-food during tea-breaks. Check with participants from time to time if they are comfortable in the workshop. Respect your time. Begin and end the workshop on time.

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7. Declare and share your passions

Knowledge shared is knowledge gained. Michael Lum shows how you can transfer your expertise with others.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Traditionally, Valentine’s Day, 14th February, is the occasion where you declare your love for your loved one. Professionally, have you declared your love for what you are doing at work and in business? On Valentine’s Day, you share your love with a card, candle-lit dinner and gifts. How are you going to share your professional passions with others?

It is crucial that to identify your passions. If you do what you love and love what you do, you do not have to work for a single day in your life. If you can discover what your passions are, a dull moment will not occur in your life. You live a purposeful driven life if you know where your true north lies.

Knowledge kept is knowledge lost. Knowledge shared is knowledge gained. Many think that by sharing knowledge, others will have an unfair advantage. When others ask you questions, you benefit from it too. Nothing is more fulfilling than sharing with others on your passions. When someone’s life is changed by you, it is a rewarding experience. There are a few ways where you can share your skills knowledge with others:

Speaking

Speaking is the easiest and the hardest thing in the world to do. Giving speeches is a one way communication where you transfer knowledge to a group of people. A speech can last from ten minutes to a few hours. It is easy because it is mainly a one-way information transmission. At the same time, it is the hardest because of stage fright. You do not know how hostile the audience can be. Speaking is time efficient as one person can transmit your technology to many. I have given many speeches to educational institutions, interest groups, not-for-profit organizations, companies and National Libraries.

Training

Training differs from speaking as it is a two way communication. Besides lecturettes, you use other channels like games, stories, discussion, focus groups, teach-back, adventures, presentation etc. In speaking, lecturing dominates whereas in training, a variety of tools is employed. The primary purpose of speaking is to inform while training is to impel participants’ attitudinal changes. The duration of training can lasts from 3 hours to a few days. The longest training I have facilitated is a 5-day program. Training can be conducted either in-house (organization’s training room) or in public (eg. a hotel). Last year, I deliver free workshops on resume writing and interviewing skills for retrenched workers.

Coaching

Where training is targeted at a group of people, coaching is a one-to-one personalized tuition. Coach a younger staff where he can look up to you as a role model. Instead of reinventing the wheel and making mistakes, he can learn new skills and strategies from you. In this manner, he can grow faster professionally. You too can learn from your “coachee” from his questions, perspectives and growth. Coaching can lasts from a few days to a few years. During this period of time, you monitor his progress. It is gratifying for coaches to see young executives mature in wisdom and prosper in their career. I have personally coached a few CEOs.


Writing

If you are introverted and fear speaking before an audience, writing is the medium for you. Document your technology in a written format and share it with others. You can submit your writings to internet discussion groups, journals, magazines and of course, here in Recruit Pages. Whenever I am free, I will take out my notebook and whip up a few pages. Nothing is more satisfying than to see your name in print. Many readers cut out and file your articles for future reference. When you have written enough, you can compile all your articles into a book! I have written five books till date.

If your knowledge benefits others and improves their lives, it is the best form of non-monetary income. Give back to society what you have taken from it. If, sometime, in future, someone comes up to you and says that your speech or article has made a difference to his life, you have succeeded. So decide in what way you share your expertise with others this coming year.

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8. Getting Insight Assistance from Visual Aids

Using the right visual aids, you can deliver a memorable presentation


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you can have access to resources that can aid you in the effective delivery of your presentation? And wouldn’t be useful if you can harness these resources work for you making your job as a presenter easier?

Many resources are available to assist you in your presentation to your boss, board of directors, bankers, partners, clients and the public. These resources are as effective as your ability to utilize them.

Visual aids consist of whiteboards, charts, posters, flip charts, overhead transparences (known as acetate in America), 35 mm slides, PC and projector.

The advantages of visual aids are many. Firstly, it saves a lot of time especially if the presentations are repeated many times. Instead of drawing a diagram or a picture, a visual aid is more effective in communicating information to the audience. A visual aid commands attention from the audience. If a transparency is projected onto the screen, the eyes of the audience naturally shift their focus there. Instead of describing a diagram in so many words, it can be flashed on the screen. It saves many minutes of description and explanation. An unknown advantage of visual aids is it helps you to control your nervousness. When a visual is displayed, the audience directs their attention at it, thereby taking the pressure away from you.

Since 83% of people are visual and learn from sight, visual aids are of paramount importance when you are presenting, teaching or facilitating. In another study, 20% of participants in a presentation remember what they hear. When visual aids are added, 50% of them remember what they hear and see. When physical activities are included, 70% remember what they hear, see and do.

The most common visual aid is flip charts. Knowing the art of flip-charting can alleviate your status as a skilled communicator. The basic of writing of flip charts is the “6 by 6” rule. The maximum number of words in one line is 6 words and the maximum number of lines is 6 lines. In between the lines, leave plenty of white space. Create some space on the sides too. To make it visible to the audience at the back of the room, never crowd the flip chart with information.

What types of markers should the presenter use? Thick markers are effective. Use dark colours like black and blue for words. Avoid lighter colours like yellow, pink and green. Red is an appropriate colour to frame up your chart. This is accomplished by drawing a rectangle around your script. Add various colours to your flip chart to make it impactful. Graphics and drawings are very effective in bringing your points to your audience. They will not forget your drawings, no matter how bad an artist you are. Do not be afraid bring out the artist in you. The audience will appreciate your amateur artistic effort!

When you are writing on the flip chart, stand on one side so that it will block the audience. If you need to move away from the flip chart, never wander more than two steps away. Face the room as you talk. If you need to write on the flip chart, write with your body facing ¼ position towards the audience. No one like to have a presenter’s back facing them.

Another popular visual aid is the overhead projector. Always test the equipment before your presentation. Focus the image on the screen till it produces a sharp and undistorted image. Display the transparency only when you need to illustrate a point. When finished, turn the projector off. Never leave the projector on with a blank screen. The bright halogen light will distract the participants. When changing transparencies, either switch off the OHP or use a paper to cover the glass surface. Do not stand in-between the projector and the screen; otherwise the contour of your body will be projected. Use a manual or laser pointer. Using your fingers smacks of amateurish presentational skills.

The more colourful your transparency is, the more effective is it in drawing the attention of the audience. Colours will life to an otherwise monotonous presentation. People are excited by colours easily.

Even if you are using an OHP, have marker pens and flip charts ready. The OHP may malfunction or the bulb can get blown.

Pre-drawn charts, posters and quotations can be pasted on the walls by using double-sided tapes or pins. After the presentation, the audience is reminded of your message. Repetition is the best form of communication.

Try not to use the whiteboard. The board tends to reflect light making it difficult for the audience to see. Moreover, many whiteboards are stained from markers left over by previous users. Whiteboards markers are thin. The words written do not leave a strong impression compared to flip charts with absorbs the ink.

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9. Anchor yourself to deliver peak performance

Michael Lum, a certified NLP trainer, shows you how anchoring can recreate any desirable experience you once had.

Would it be useful if you have a magic wand, wave it and make butterflies in your stomach disappear when you make a presentation? Would it useful if you can have another magic wand, wave it and make yourself totally motivated when you meet a new client?

The waving of the magic wand is the stimulus. The outcome of confidence and motivation is the response. The stimulus-response model was first studied by a Russian psychologist, Ivan Pavlov. When he hit the tuning fork, his dog came and he fed it food. The dog salivated as it smelled and tasted the food. Each time he hit the tuning fork, he gave the dog food. It salivated when it saw the food. One day, Pavlov hit the tuning fork, the dog came. There was no food but the dog salivated. The sound of the tuning fork is the anchor and the salivation is the response. This conditioned response is the foundation of anchoring.

In Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP), anchoring is the stimulation of our senses and it can recreate or revoke a prior experience. Any of our five senses, sight, hearing, feelings, taste or smell can be used as an anchor to trigger a desirable experience like enthusiasm, motivation, pride, energy or curiosity. Examples of anchors we encounter daily are traffic lights, advertisement, music, ringing of the alarm clock and school bell, smell of coffee and taste of certain food. When drivers see the red traffic light, they stop automatically. As the light turns green, they lift their legs off the brakes and press the accelerator. An aroma of curry reminds us of our hunger. Smell of leather reminds the motorist that the car is still new. Our behaviour results from conditioned response.

Effective anchors have the following characteristics. It is unique. The more unique an anchor is, the more effective it is. Hence, using a handshake as an anchor seldom not work as you shake hands very often and with strangers too. An anchor must be portable i.e. you have bring it whenever you go. A good anchor can be used home, in the office, in the clients’ premises or at business meetings. An anchor must be discrete i.e. you can fire the anchor without others noticing. You are feeling anxious presenting before your board of directors. An effective anchor allows you to fire off without any of the directors noticing it. An anchor is inexpensive and repeatable. The more often you repeat your anchor, the more effective it is. You can use an object or part of your body to install an anchor.

An anchor can be auditory, for example, music, names, tone and birds chirping. A particular piece of music can bring back pleasant memories. To recreate that enjoyable experience, play the same piece of music and beautiful memories are evoked. A photograph is a fine example of a visual anchor. Every time you want to reproduce a successful moment, look at the photograph of you winning an award. Kinesthetic anchors can be installed in parts of your body, for example, squeezing your fingers, touching your elbows, punching your hands into the air, leather chair, brushing teeth or shower. Smell of petrol, gas, newborn baby and bread are olfactory anchors. Examples of gustatory anchors are taste of chocolate, cakes, curry or medicine.

If you feel anxious presenting before an audience, you can install an anchor, say by squeezing your left thumb and index finger. By squeezing, you visualize you feel totally confident in your presentation. Imagine, you are able to influence the audience and answer their questions adequately. Every time before your presentation, squeeze your fingers to recreate that positive feeling. You feel confident each time you fire that anchor i.e. squeezing of your fingers.

If you feel uneasy whenever you meet a new client, you can install a kinesthetic anchor like a smile. It makes you relaxed, charming, friendly and non-threatening. Install this anchor (i.e. smile) each time you meet a new client in all business environment. Soon, your client will begin to like and trust you. Business transaction is on the pipeline.

By anchoring, you eradicate your minor and irrational fears which limit your progress in our career and business. Firing off anchors allows us to live positively and purposefully. It empowers us to move forward and perform more challenging tasks. Every time we need some nudges, we can fire off the anchor. Once an anchor is installed, it can last a lifetime.

Anchors can be negative too. Sighting a police car leaves us questioning the speed we drive or the offences we have committed. An engagement in public speaking suggests anxiety and mild panic attacks. The mention of the word “examination” gives a feeling of anxiety, images of inadequate preparation and inability to deliver our best.

You can learn more about anchoring, a module in the NLP practitioner program. This 7-day program is taught by a certified NLP trainer.

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10. Win Over your Clients by Building Rapport

Michael Lum, a Certified NLP Trainer, shows how you can influence others more persuasively by using NLP rapport technology.


Do you like to have the ability to persuade your clients more easily? Do you like them to communicate more responsively? How can you create an atmosphere of trust and respect? How can you respect another’s viewpoint while keeping yours? Wouldn’t it be useful if you can have access to all these skills?

Remember an occasion you enjoy having conversation with someone and you are totally absorbed in it? Time passes so quickly before you realize you spend hours. Did you notice that your body adopts the same posture as the other person? Did you observe that he trusts you completely? This is a person whom you have just met and you feel that you have known him for years. Welcome to the world of rapport technology.

Observe in interviews, presentations, meetings, negotiations and other business functions. When people converse and transact business successfully, they are in rapport. Rapport is created by matching and mirroring in Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP).

Matching is a natural process. When people get on well, they do things naturally in a synchronized way. People who are in rapport tend to mirror and match each another. It is like Argentine Tango, where dancers respond to each another movement gracefully and sensitively. It is a bridge to other person’s line of thinking. Rapport technology is created on the premise that “people like people who are like themselves”. On the contrary, when people are not like each other, they do not like each other.

Rapport creates trust, harmony and co-operation. It creates a condition where others will accept your suggestions uncritically. When you are in rapport with others, you will find them responsive to you.

People who are in rapport with others share similar interests, values, philosophy, food and entertainment. If you make yourself familiar and non-threatening, others accept you to their own sphere of activities.

Successful people create rapport. By matching and mirroring body physiology, you can instantly create rapport with anybody. Rapport can be also enhanced by matching the facial expression, eye contact, breathing and voice (tonality, speed, volume and rhythm of speech). It can be established by adopting the same philosophy, values, beliefs and level of complexity in information processing. Full rapport is like belting out your favourite duet with someone in a karaoke lounge.

Matching is not mimicking and exaggerating other person’s movement. Mimicking or “monkeying” another person only ridicules and embarrasses him. When you mirror someone, do not be obvious or overdo it.

In a meeting, if your client is thinking, you can create rapport by being silent and wait for him to process his thoughts. Continuing your conversation weakens the rapport. In a business function, you can match another person by the way he sit, talk, think, look and even breathe. If your client orders a mug of beer, leans over the bar counter, talks about the stock market in a soft voice slowly, breathes lightly and taps his finger occasionally on the bar top, you can create instant rapport by matching him. If your customer thinks and talks in a long term, you will decrease the rapport by emphasizing issues in the short term. In a job interview, if your employer sees mental pictures of sales presentation in his head, you will break the trust if you hear sounds or feel with your body.

You can also match another person’s emotional state. If your colleague is upset, he will feel better if you talk quietly and slowly. Do not overload him with information or distract him with fast bodily movement. If your boss is over the moon in securing a big order, celebrate his conquest by talking exciting, breathing heavily and expressing joy in your facial features with rapid body movement.

To match successfully, you need to be congruent with yourself. Your words, thinking and body physiology must agree with each another. If you say yes verbally, your body language must show signs of affirmation. Your head nods to suggest congruence. Creating rapport with others is like catching a wild horse. First you have to ride a horse and gallop at the same speed besides the wild horse. At the appropriate moment, you jump and take over it.

On the contrary, mismatching is useful in other situations. Instead of saying it verbally, you can mismatch to express your displeasure. For instance, if your supplier is taking too much of your time, you can mismatch physiologically to signal your displeasure. In a negotiation when issues run into a brick wall, you can indicate your desire to take a time out by mismatching the other party’s physiology, tone of voice and subject matter.

You can learn more about rapport technology, a module in the NLP practitioner program. This 7-day program is taught by a certified NLP trainer.

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