Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Book Your Place On Our Next Train the Trainer Course

Gary Bedingfield Train the Trainer
In conjunction with SHARE, Gary Bedingfield Training will be running another open Train the Trainer course this summer. This will be the sixth open course we've run in the last 18 months, each has been sold out in no time at all.

This summer's course will take place on Wednesday June 10 in Glasgow. It's a perfect chance to enhance your training skills and learn from someone who has been delivering training for over 15 years. Here are some of the topics we will cover:

  • Learning styles and why it's so important to be aware of them
  • The stages of learning that we all go through when learning something new
  • Getting people ready to learn and why they might not be ready to begin with
  • Building rapport to ensure the training is interactive
  • The things you need to do behind the scenes
  • Getting things started and getting everyone in the right mood for learning
  • How people learn best
  • Delivery styles
  • How to perform successful demonstrations
  • How to deliver memorable one-to-one training
  • How to deal with difficult and challenging behaviour in the training room
  • Using questions to ensure learning
  • Seamlessly integrating assessment
  • Techniques to end a training session
  • Writing aims and objectives to keep your training on course
  • Developing a training plan
If you'd like to learn more about this great training opportunity then visit our Glasgow Train the Trainer web page. But hurry. Spaces are limited!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Writing Their CVs

Successful CVs Image
One thing that has always amazed me is how little time people spend on their CVs. They produce them as quickly as possible, spend minimal time checking for accuracy and somehow think it will get them a job every time they send it to a potential employer. To be successful in your search for a new job you need to look at your CV differently. Think about it as a living and breathing document that changes each time you send it away; a document that perfectly matches the employer’s needs. When your CV lands on the desk of an employer you get just one shot at being successful. A simple mistake can mean it’s headed straight to the shredder before they even get beyond the first couple of lines. With this in mind, here are ways to avoid the 10 mistakes most commonly made by people when they’re writing their CVs.

1. Doesn’t match the job description

The content of a CV is flexible; it should change with each job application and you have to match your skills with the skills mentioned in the job description. If you don’t, then it will be extremely difficult for the reader to see that you’re an ideal candidate for the vacancy. Read the job description, extract the skills and qualities mentioned and ensure you include them in your CV.

2. It's not pleasing to the eye

Many people will pick up a book based on the appearance of the cover and it’s the same for CVs. A nicely laid out CV has a far better chance of being read than one that looks like a mess. You’ve got to get the content right, but once you’ve done that make sure you spend some time on getting the layout perfect and pleasing to the eye.

3. An endless stream of skills

A potential employer is not looking for a list of skills you have to offer. You may well be enthusiastic, hardworking, motivated, dependable, assertive, confident and reliable but it just looks like a list of skills and qualities you acquired from a “Words to Include in Your CV” book. It’s much better to focus on the skills and qualities mentioned in the job description and then describe how you have used them. For example, you might want to tell them that you have used leadership skills to motivate your team and increase sales within your department by 40%.

4. No current information

This is a problem for people who have been unemployed for more than a year. Your CV can look like you’ve fallen off the face of the earth since your last job! To make your CV appear current you need to show that you’re doing something now. This could be voluntary work or a workplace-related course, such as first aid, manual handling or health and safety. By having this on your CV you show that you haven’t been idle since your last employment and have been actively improving your chances of find a job.

5. Obvious untruths

No employer is going to have an ounce of interest in a liar. Your CV needs to be the truth. That doesn’t mean you have to tell them everything, just don’t make up anything and check that your dates don’t conflict and cause suspicion.

6. Spelling mistakes

We all have words we struggle with and we need to use available resources to ensure these mistakes don’t creep into our CVs. Always use the spellchecker when writing your CV. You might also want to consult a dictionary or ask someone else if you’re not sure. My rule when reading CVs is that I will allow one spelling mistake. Beyond that, it goes in the bin!

7. Disorganised

Potential employers look for different things in CVs. They might want to read about your training and qualifications, or they might want to read about your work history. Therefore, all parts of your CV should be easily identifiable with clearly visible headings. If it’s a struggle to find the part they’re looking for, they will soon give up.

8. Information overload

It’s difficult to get the balance right between not saying enough and saying too much. The rule of thumb is to be guided by the job description. If it’s not mentioned in the job description then you can probably leave it out of your CV or at least keep it to an absolute minimum. Always be guided by what they are asking for, rather than what you want to tell them.

9. Too many pages

Some people are passionate about sharing their entire work history on their CVs. As a result, we end up with CVs that are four, five or six pages long. Employers simply don’t have the time to wade through all that information, especially if what they’re looking for could have been presented far more succinctly. Your CV should be no longer than one or two pages. If you can’t narrow it down to that then you’re almost definitely giving them information overload!

10. Where’s the passion?

When a potential employer reads a CV they want to get the sense that the person has an enthusiasm for the vacancy; that it’s the kind of work they love doing or would love to do. Many employers would much rather take on someone with enthusiasm that they can train to do the job, rather than someone who really doesn’t seem to care. Show you have some passion for the job.

Gary Bedingfield has worked with thousands of individuals during his 15 years in the employability support field, ranging from those in management positions to long-term unemployed and youngsters starting their careers. His Successful CVs workshops are delivered in-house throughout Scotland. For more information, visit the Gary Bedingfield Training website.

Friday, 23 January 2015

10 Tips for Successful PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPointI use PowerPoint a lot. As a trainer, the majority of the courses I deliver are accompanied by PowerPoint presentations but the last thing I want is for my audience to suffer 'death by PowerPoint'. I'm well aware that visual learners need to be able to see as well as hear something they are being taught but that doesn't mean every word you say needs to be on the screen behind you. In fact, the complete opposite is true. You should always aim to keep your slides as brief as possible. Here are 10 quick tips to help you create great PowerPoint presentations.

1. Use a big font size - Don't be afraid to 'go large'. You want to make sure everyone can clearly see what you have on the screen. This is also a great way of removing words that you don't have room for and that really don't need to be there in the first place.

2. Use visual instead of text - If you can say it with a picture rather than words, then do so. A picture can often have far more impact than any words you could use in its place.

3. Blank the screen - If you're looking to get the attention of the audience then blank out the screen. Make yourself the centre of attention until you're ready to move on with the presentation.

4. Avoid distracting animation - PowerPoint has lots of fancy animation tools that can make text come flying in from all different directions. A simple piece of advice - don't do it. It's incredibly distracting and often looks amateurish.

5. Don’t become a victim of 'Screen accompanied by still-life of speaker' - Your PowerPoint presentation is a tool that accompanies you. It's not the other way around, so don't just stand there and talk, move around, be animated, make sure the audience are fully engaged with you.

6. Reveal bullet points one at a time - If you reveal a slide with five bullet points you can guarantee the audience are reading through all five, probably while you're trying to draw attention to the first one. Reveal your bullet points one at a time, to keep the audience focused.

7. Use a remote control - A remote control to advance your slides (or even a wireless mouse) gives you the flexibility to move around and help keep the focus on you. It also allows you to blank the screen (see tip number 3) whenever you need.

8. Use a consistent template -  For a professional look, the background for each slide should always be the same. It's the content on the background that changes.

9. Check your spelling and grammar - If you have spelling mistakes on your slides your audience will probably be paying more attention to them than the actual content. proofread carefully.

10. Practice! - Once you've put your presentation together you need to practice it before you 'go live'. You might even want to video yourself on something like a smartphone to see how you're doing.

If you'd like to learn more about giving dynamic and effective PowerPoint presentations then take a look at our website. We deliver courses throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Customer Service Communication Skills

Good communication skills, both written and verbal, are highly valued in customer service and this is something we talk about during our Customer Service training courses. However, listening skills and empathy are also an important component of good communication, both of which tend to be overshadowed. Listening doesn't come naturally to most people. It's something we need to work at, and stop ourselves from ‘jumping in’ and giving our own views and opinions. Mostly, people don’t listen; they just take turns to speak. We tend to be more interested in announcing our own views and experiences rather than listening and understanding others. In a customer service environment, this is a recipe for disaster.

Obtain the customer's name as soon as possible and use it
Ask for the customer’s name first, rather than their reference number or address. This shows you are a good listener and adds a nice personal touch. Write it down if that will help you remember.

Be adaptable
There's no reason for customers to be approached using the same style every time. Use personal experience to build rapport so that the customer feels you are putting yourself in their shoes and treating them as an individual. Adapt the way you deal with each customer. Meet their unique needs with a unique approach.

Make their problem your problem
Take ownership of the enquiry, especially if it's a complaint, and develop a one-to-one relationship with the customer so they have a point of contact they can come back to.

See things from the customer’s perspective
Try to imagine yourself in the customer’s shoes. How would you feel? How would you have reacted? What result would you want?

Ask open-ended questions 
Open-ended questions encourage the customer to share what they know about the situation and help build rapport. Closed questions that can be answered 'yes' or 'no', do little to advance the situation. Instead, ask questions that begin with 'who', 'what', 'where', 'why', 'when' or 'how'. Open questions naturally encourage conversation because they are almost impossible to answer with a single word.

Remember the value of an apology
A simple, genuine, heart-felt apology at the appropriate time can quickly defuse a difficult situation and break down barriers.

Avoid assumptions
Don’t make assumptions about what the customer is telling you – actively listen!

If necessary, give the customer an idea when they can expect a result
It’s not good enough to tell a customer you will get back to them. Give them an indication as to when that will happen. Will it be within five minutes, an hour, before 5pm today, tomorrow?

You can find out more about our Customer Service training courses on our website. We deliver all across the United Kingdom.

Photo by Stuart Miles. Courtesy of