Reflections upon Completion of a Training Project in Manila

mall of Asia

Mall of Asia, Manila.


A Jeepney

I have just had the pleasure of delivering our course, “The Art & Science of Presentations for Marketing & Sales” to 10 batches of C-suite Executives, Senior Managers and their subordinates (in groups of 10-12) in one of the leading companies in the Philippines.

This article will initially deal with the project context, content and feedback from the clients which will be followed by a detailed list of practical learning points and advice for overseas trainers.

Training Context
Trainees were being prepared to make excellent, effective & highly professional presentations to the Company’s “target audiences”: C-suite Executives, other company employees & potential and actual clients / suppliers in addition to government organizations (both national & international). The focus was on formal, structured and concise communication within the ambit of the marketing & sales areas of the organization.

Based on the participants’ feedback, our course differed from other training courses because of:
– The practical application of NLP, psycholinguistics, psychology & kinesics to developing and delivering excellent presentations.

– The importance of congruent verbal and non-verbal communication as a sign of the presenter’s self-confidence which enables them to control both themself and the audience.

– The focus on the use of the key elements of non-verbal communication by the presenter as an additional element of persuasion and the effective reading & interpretation of the audience’s non-verbal communication.

– The practical skills and techniques of choosing, structuring & presenting data by focussing on a range of concepts such as “less is more”.

– The focus on the application of simple psychological concepts which can be applied to structuring the presentation to clearly communicate key messages to ensure understanding, memorability and facilitate decision making.

– How a clear understanding of the audiences’ background,  expectations and needs, wants & lacks are half the battle in ensuring that the intended message is clearly understood by the attendees.

– The role and application of “Limitation Factors” upon presenters to ensure that the presentation gets to the point and does not waste the audience’s time.

Participant’s post-course evaluations indicated that: Agree %
1. The topic was relevant and will be useful in the company and my area of responsibility 100%
2. The speaker was knowledgeable about the topic and was effective in facilitating the group. 100%
3. The activities were effective in achieving application of learning & promoted interaction. 100%

Other Trainee Comments from Post-course Evaluations indicated that the programme was – Structured; Interesting; Easy to absorb and well worth the time invested.

The trainer:
– Had a way of asking questions which removed the stress & nervousness of participants.
– Was able to clearly point out areas of improvement of participants.
– Actively handled and resolved weaknesses.
– Had a high energy level.
– Engaged participants from the beginning.

In every course, the same message was delivered to the attendees from both senior management and the trainer: “You are senior managers and it is your responsibility to actually use the new skills acquired on this course and ensure that your team members also apply them – Lead by example!”.

The Senior management from the President downwards provided 100% support at all times and were the “White Knights” of the project. The client has apparently created a precedent by investing so much time, energy and resources in this training project and providing training in cascade so that manager can ensure that the skills and techniques taught are consciously applied by all their staff.
Post-course assistance was provided in ensuring that the skills and techniques are applied so that there is a clear R.O.I.

Ian working with a group.

A group doing a Peripheral Vision exercise

edited mentoring

An in-course Mentoring session

Ian posture exercise

A group doing a “Posture” exercise

bell tower posture

A group doing a “Gesture” exercise.

I also had the pleasure of doing a four-hour interactive training session on “N.L.P. for Trainers” for approx. 70 in-company trainers – at one time! – which looked at using a range of different Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques & skills in the training & development area including, but not limited to, stage skills, material design, interpersonal communication, etc. Due to the fact that the participants were all trainers, there was a great willingness to participate in a wide range of practical activities and absolutely no self-consciousness about “performing in public” so a great time was had by all!

Learning Points for Trainers:

All of the trainees were expected to provide feedback on the presentations of their companions in each group. In the first groups, which were made up of C-Suite and Senior Managers, the feedback was, in general, precise, to-the-point and designed to help the receiver improve their second presentation. Some of the C-Suite and other senior staff gave feedback which anticipated that of the trainer. In each course we had a “Presentation Panel” where 3 attendees were chosen to provide detailed feedback for presenters and then the other trainees were given the opportunity to provided supplemental feedback. After each presenter, the panel members changed.

The later groups, which were generally lower level managers, were generally less willing to provide “real” or constructive feedback to their companions, even when there were glaring deficiencies in the first presentations. This, of course, meant that the trainer had to provide more extensive feedback. However, in certain cases, some trainees were mentored during the time given to apply the feedback given to them about their first presentation before presenting it a second time. This mentoring often involved helping trainees who had less practical knowledge of PowerPoint or had not applied specific techniques in their presentation.

Interruptions during the course:
Almost all of the trainees dedicated 100% of their attention to the material taught on the course. However, some were distracted by SMSs, phone calls, etc., which meant that they often missed key components of the course and this obviously affected their practice presentations. In order to prevent this happening, the trainees were told at the very beginning of the session that they should turn off their mobile phones and check them during the breaks. With continual offenders, they were finally give a choice: either leave the course and then explain to their boss why they had left or turn off their phones until the coffee / lunch break! All chose the latter option!

Other learning points for international trainers who may be working in the Philippines:
1. Check with senior management about whether they want European or Asian style feedback.“European” appears to be much more direct while “Asian” tends to be more circumspect and “softer”.

2. Find out about the organization’s dress code expectations for trainers & consultants.

3. Be open and relaxed about yourself and you’ll get the same from the Filipinos.

4. Be honest and specific when giving feedback. At the start of each course, clearly differentiate between “criticism” & “feedback”.

5. Take detailed notes about what happens in the training room.

6. Prepare an end-of-session report for each group upon completion of the session using the notes you have taken.

7. Provide the criteria & rationale used for your evaluations of students in your reports.

8. Provide a brief end-of-project summary report giving basic details of the sessions and the results obtained.

9. Be prepared to have in-company trainers in your sessions observing / helping you.

10. Do not be mercenary! Trust your client and they’ll trust you.

11. Watch your language – certain words are frowned upon while a synonym is acceptable.

12. Investigate norms of Filipino non-verbal communication BEFORE you go.

13. Be respectful of, and interested in, the language, culture and history of the Philippines and do not make unnecessary comparisons with your culture.

Other key points:
1. Give frequent breaks during the course as people habitually tend to drink a lot of water. I recommend a 5-minute break every hour.

2. Some people use Apple Mac computers which often tend to have problems with projectors. The solution that worked for us was to disconnect any internet connection and then connect the projector. Normally windows-based laptops seem to have no problems!

3. Apparently Filipinos eat 5 times a day and when they are happy or sad – 7 times! Be prepared to have a lot of great food & drink in the training room.

4. It seems that flipcharts with white paper are not that common in the Philippines so let your client know well in advance that you will need one (or more!) And the appropriate pens.

5. Wall outlets in the Philippines accept American-style, 2 rectangular pin plugs and not the round, 2-pin European style.

6. The traffic in Metro Manila can be incredibly bad. Get a decent hotel as close as possible to the training site to avoid the interminable traffic jams. I stayed at the Ascott Makati – You can read my evaluation on Trip Advisor – which was normally a 20 minute drive from the training site – except on Friday nights!

Some final recommendations:
Anyone working in Asia should consider adding some sort of extra “Added Value” element over and above what is included in the training contract as it is normally greatly appreciated and highly valued by the client.

I was fortunate enough to arrive a couple of working days before the courses started and was able to meet, and get valuable advice from, my contacts in the organization before starting the training which added to the success of the project. Anyone involved in doing training should consider arriving a couple of days early to get acclimatized and also have time to get to know the organization and people that they will be working with.

I am looking forward to going back to the Philippines as it was a memorable, stimulating and rewarding experience working with the organization, the trainees and all the other Filipinos that I came in contact with.

All of the comments in this article are based on my own personal experiences and perception & might be different for other people.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

© Ian Brownlee, July, 2015.

About ianbrownlee

Ian Brownlee, the founder of Brownlee & Associates has been actively involved in the field of interpersonal & transcultural communication since 1977. He has worked in universities and companies in the following countries: Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, England, The United States of America & Spain, as a teacher, university lecturer, trainer, researcher & consultant. In addition, his experience in living in these countries, and studying the language & communication and interaction styles of each has aided him in reaching a real understanding of intercultural and transcultural differences and how to resolve them. Ian Brownlee has various masters degrees from British Universities: One in Linguistics & Teaching English Overseas from Manchester University, one in Training & Development with a specialization in the area of Communication and Adult learning awarded by the University of Sheffield. He has also gained professional qualifications in Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy from various professional organizations. During his university career he has also studied elements of Sociology, Organizational psychology, Educational psychology, Psycholinguistics and Kinesics. He is a licensed Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and Master Trainer in NLP. as well as being a trainer in Ericksonian Hypnosis. He is a member of a wide range of professional organizations involved in Training, Applied Psychology, Hypnotherapy & Ericksonian Hypnosis, Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Communication & Cross-cultural Communication. He is also recognized by the Program on Negotiation, Harvard University, as a Negotiation Skills Trainer & Mediator and has been a collaborator on various projects with the program, and as such is in great demand as a negotiation consultant for some of the largest multinationals operating worldwide. His wide experience gained in multinational organizations in positions such as Director of Training, Communications Consultant and Negotiator / Mediator has helped many people to learn and apply new methods of negotiating skills and advanced communication techniques both in their private and professional lives. He has published various articles & books related to the field of interpersonal communication and he is the author of all the courses taught by Brownlee & Associates. He has lived and worked in Spain since 1985, initially as a trainer / Special Assistant in a multinational pharmaceutical company and then as the Training Manager for a multinational company involved in Clinical Analysis & Nuclear Medicine. Brownlee & Associates was formed in 1991 and currently has a small, highly-trained staff. While based in Madrid, courses are given world-wide either in English or Spanish. Brownlee & Associates currently work with leading international companies in the areas of pharmaceuticals , Information systems, luxury products, food & beverages, etc.
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