I am a Course Facilitator — an unlikely journey that comes true.
Rolling back to 2019, I cannot imagine myself being a facilitator facilitating Project Management Courses. Similarly, I cannot imagine myself giving a webinar online, facing many unfamiliar faces with different backgrounds and experience levels.
Now, I am confident that I can manage to facilitate a 2-days Project Management Fundamental or a 3-days Effective Project Management without any issue. These are the courses offered by EPM Training Services, and I was their associate consultant. It all started in 2020 when Alan Puan, the Group CEO, offered me an opportunity to conduct a one-day session of Introduction to WBS Schedule Pro. Due to the uncertainties bought by COVID-19, I was desperately looking for opportunities to generate revenue for the company. I accepted this opportunity immediately, and the panic mode kicked in much later.
How it started
My last business travelling to Jakarta was from 13–17 January 2020. Everything comes to an immediate halt shortly after due to COVID-19, where Singapore went into a lockdown. Except for essential services and activities, we are all told to stay home.
My first thought was that if I can’t reach out to customers, how can I bring in the revenue? After much consideration, I decided to try to conduct an online webinar to share on the topic of The Human Perspective of Innovation.
The few series of webinars give me suitable sensing of how I can utilise what I have what I know to start to reach out to engage potential customers. However, our business didn’t pick up or reach out because of this. The availability of grants is still a critical consideration of companies taking up such services.
The First Step
Alan feels that I am a suitable candidate to conduct the one-day course for his company. Since I am looking for ways to generate revenue and he needs a facilitator, it was a good match.
This started my first engagement with EPM by helping them to conduct a few sessions of Introduction to WBS Schedule Pro. First, I need to quickly get familiarised with the software and promptly enhance the training materials I have on hand to prepare for the sessions. The first session was a calm sea on the surface with a heavy current that’s pulling in all directions. Fortunately, I managed to complete it without much hassle, and I gave myself a thumbs up and a sense of accomplishment that day.
Thankfully, there weren’t any complaints or bad reviews for me. I was given another opportunity to conduct a two-day Project Management Fundamentals for one of their corporate customers.
The Second Step
This was a large arena, and I do not feel that I have the sufficient experience and know-how to facilitate this session. However, Alan gives me his assurance that I have what it takes to conduct the course, and he is confident that I can do it. Well, people usually have better clarity on what I can do than me, and my focus is not to disappoint Alan and EPM, especially since this is one of the key accounts.
So, I took up the challenge and eventually conducted more than ten runs of this course for the customer. I did not stop at facilitating the course. I do what I can to improve on how I can do it.
- The class exercise used to be in pptx, where they needed to collaborate as a group. However, in most cases, only one person will be busy working and the rest using their verbal power. So, to facilitate teamwork, I moved this to Jamboard and eventually used Google Slides, where everyone can collaborate.
- It used to be all slides where it was hard to engage the learners and capture their attention. This will be a one-way delivery session if they are the “reserved” type. I incorporate tools such as NearPod, and Mentimeter to solicit feedback from those passive learners. It helps to create a more interactive learning environment.
- Instead of reading from the pptx, which is one thing that I do not like myself, I decided to change the approach. I think the learners can read much better than me reading out to them. So I threw away most of the slides and used a Wacom Tablet with the Whiteboard function of Zoom. It makes the session more engaging, and it allows me to reply to any questions with illustrations when necessary.
The Third Step
Besides these, I have decided to take the Advanced Certificate in Learning and Performance. It was an intensive 9-months Train-The-Trainer program that equipped us with skills and know-how to conduct training.
Part of the ideas on the improvement I have made to the Project Management Fundamentals came from this course. Throughout the course, I have gained much depth to the world of training and established good fellowship with my coursemates. From the Adult Educators, we are one of the most cooperative and close-knitted cohorts they have seen.
This certificate will benefit me in the future.
The Future Steps
I have grown significantly in facilitation and conduct of training over the last two years. Amid the challenges presented by COVID-19, this was an opportunity to gear myself with another life skill that can benefit me for the rest of my life.
I will continue to explore leveraging these skills for my work and probably continue to engage in this field as much as I can. Training or facilitation is essentially sharing of knowledge and experiences through storytelling. This is something that I discovered where I like to do, and I can do it quite well.
Finally, thanks to Alan and EPM for allowing me to write this chapter of my life.