One Big Mistake I Made When I First Started Teaching Adults – Contributed by Jean-Paul Bayley

(Blog post contributed by TBR-VE™ and TCC Certifier Jean-Paul Bayley): I first titled this blog post: “One Big Mistake I Made When I First Started Training People Which Caused Me Stress – and Three Ways to Avoid This Mistake and Keep You Calm!” Read on to find out what I’m talking about.

Like most beginners, I made many mistakes when I first started teaching/training adults and sharing knowledge with them.

But this was one of the biggest, by far: I assumed I had to have ALL the answers ALL the time!

Here is what happened:

I’m in a class, and a learner asks a question I don’t have an answer to. It is about something I have never even heard of. My stress levels start to rise. I can feel my face flushing red with embarrassment. My inner voice is screaming, “Answer it dammit! You are the trainer, you must know everything!” I freeze. Another learner chips in, “Oh, I had that happen to me once, and here is what I did …”.

The other learner finishes their story. The answer satisfies the questioner. I take a deep breath and compose myself. I thank the learner for their valuable contribution. My inner voice whispers, “Saved!”

It’s worth acknowledging that making this mistake taught me a ton!

Here are three things I learned from this mistake which will keep you calm when that happens to you:

1. You can’t know everything – and that’s OK!

2. Other learners will often have a good answer. It’s worth checking. Say something like, “I don’t have a good answer for that right now – does anyone else have an answer they would like to share?”

3. Admit you don’t know and offer to come back. Say, “I don’t know. I’ve not seen that before. Do you mind if I come back to you with an answer once I’ve had a little time to look into it?” If you do this, you must come back to the learner’s question though, even if you still don’t have an answer after looking into it.

This is why I encourage everyone to see their mistakes (and “failures”) as necessary steps along the path. There is always a lesson to learn!

PS. Click HERE for the single most important lesson I’ve learned sharing knowledge as a trainer.


About the Author: 

Jean-Paul Bayley lives in the UK and is a partner of Actineo Consulting LLP, a Business Agility Consultancy. He is also a TBR-VE™ Certifier and the Trainer Certification Course (TCC) Certifier for European/Asian countries. He is a top contributor to this TBR blog. Below are a number of his most popular posts:  

TBR, Psychological Safety, and C1-Connection Activities
Training and Learning Myths and Facts
Cognitive Load and Learning

Is live Virtual Learning Really Helping Learners?

Blackout Bingo for Priming Learners

Small Trumps Large when Training Online
When Everything is Suddenly Virtual
3 Anti-Patterns of Training
Anti-Patterns of Training – Part Two

For questions about TBR Practitioner Classes or how to become a TBR Certified Trainer, email Jean-Paul at [email protected].  And be sure to view his other interesting and informative posts on LinkedIn.