Nigel RISNER – One of the best trainers I’ve seen

Interested to see why Nigel RISNER is the trainer that puts most emphasis on attention in my opinion and why I consider him a top trainer? Keep reading. You can also see the reasons for which I consider Nigel RISNER to be great, or what I’d focus on more if I were Nigel. Finally, you can see actual ways of contacting Nigel. I hope you’ll enjoy my writing.

What’s this blog post about?
1. What’s the basis for comparison?
2. Who is Nigel RISNER?
3. History of events (how I’ve known him)
4. Why do I consider Nigel RISNER to be great?
5. What I’d focus on more if I were Nigel?
6. Get Nigel to motivate you!

1. What’s the basis for comparison?
In most of my college years (four in total), and while working as a freelancer (one year) I’ve been involved in a quite a large number of activities which involved public speaking (other than formal education). I have even created a mailing list dedicated to such events, where I informed my readers. I’ve been a member of two NGOs, and basically I have been always interested in hearing someone speaking. You might want to note the fact that the „trainers” category of professionals I recommend is the largest one (three persons I recommend are trainers). So I can compare Nigel RISNER with quite a few other speakers.

2. Who is Nigel RISNER?
First of all, Nigel RISNER is not only a motivational speaker, but also an author and television presenter. You can find out more about him on his web site. I especially likea nice article of Nigel’s that can be downloaded in a PDF about „Nigel’s top 10 tips for primary business champions”. Good to know.

Luckily, I can show you three live performances of Nigel in front of an audience. First, there’s a brief Ecademy Presentation. Then, there’s a larger presentation on a Ecademy Power Network Meeting (December 2006). To see it, you have to go to the members’ area, after you first register on his web site. Finally, you can view Nigel in a TV show on UK’s Channel 4 „Richard & Judy Show” (it was broadcasted in February 2004). You can see by watching his performances if what I say bellow is right or not.

3. History of events (how I’ve known him)
In October 18, 2007, at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Bucharest, HR Club (see HR Club web site) organizes a conference on „Aligned at Top: the Strategic Promise of the Human Resources”. I had the role of an observer and to be of little help to the organizers („little” being the right word here). The day starts, the presentations keep on coming, then there’s a cool workshop, a third break. It was 6 PM, the conference day begun at 9:30 AM, and some of the persons went home. But at 6 PM it was time for Nigel RISNER’s training: „How to Create IMPACT as an HR Partner”, and those persons may have lost an opportunity.

Anyhow, in general I am not impressed by a training itself. I go to a training, I may like the way the trainer reacts (like with Jim BAGNOLA), I may like the way the trainer involves the audience (such as Ana-Maria CORLAN), but to actually like the things the trainer says – that’s rare (also rare are the first two examples). So it’s quite unusual for me to be impressed by the actual words. Nigel used in his training three things: verbal communication (it was great; I will present it below; it’s the only training I want to present from everything I’ve seen so far), motivating games (I like them all, but I won’t present any – it spoils the surprise; they are also not so motivating to me; finally, you can view some of them on the videos on his web site), and finally funny clips (I consider ads, and some funny clips to be some of the greatest things one can see on TV or sites like YouTube; but generally speaking an ad and a funny clip is not that of a great thing; I can’t say I didn’t like the clips Nigel presented, it’s just that a clip by itself is not very entertaining to me).

So Nigel starts in a very energetic way, noted that it’s a bit late and even offered tips on how to make the session shorter (so he motivated the audience in a rather unusual way – something like „Let’s keep this short, shall we?”; thus he accepted that his training may be boring to some; it takes guts to say that) .

One of the first things he said fascinated me: how long can a person pay attention? You can see this blog post of mine to understand why attention is important to me. He said that children can pay attention for 37 minutes, while adults only for 20 minutes (this should contradict the bad remark that some successful businessmen of, say, 30 have the intelligence of a 5-years-old).

He then redefined feed-back. To Nigel feed-back is not actually feed-back, but much rather a feed-forward. An observation on one’s activity should only bring the person in a better place: forward.

I noted that Nigel RISNER talked with pauses between sentences (so you have time to recap the last sentence). He put a lot of questions, to keep the awareness level high (I think).

One of the most influential affirmations on the workshop to me: you go to a conference, there are some good presenters, some bad presenters. How do you give feed-back? Is it OK to just use the feed-back form that some event organizers provide? No, it’s much better, Nigel said, to give feed-back in person. I generally considered that a speaker’s time, even after the persentation ended, is much more important than mine, so I almost never gave personal feed-back. Hey! If Nigel says it’s like this, I should do it (I think Nigel has one of the most expensive cost-per-hour of the persons I’ve met; if he’s a successful trainer, and if he says that one should give personal feed-back, then yes, I really should do it). And for the next months, at each presentation I went I gave positive feed-back (including reasons) whenever possible (I won’t wait at a long line of persons wanting to talk to you just to say you were great and why). I didn’t gave negative feed-back, because it’s hard to change anything since most of the time it can be resumed in a few words: „You are boring me” (I can give some easier-to-change motives, but still these things are not easy to be said and the results are not always for the best).

What did he focus on next? (here comes shock again) Awareness. This is yet another text of mine presenting why awareness is important to me. He noted that while everybody is in the room physically, not everybody is focused on what’s happening.

Again he says something on attention: if you write the texts in the conference (like I was doing), you are likely not to pay attention on the speech itself. This hugely challenged my previous knowledge on this: you retain just a few things while watching television, more things if you read texts, and even more things if you read texts and take notes in the same time. I tried to be aware on the „don’t take notes on conferences, just be involved” affirmation on his seminar and, to my amazement, he was right. Unfortunately, I can’t apply this knowledge to other conferences. My mind easily gets away. I do note just when interested by something, I don’t just note every word I hear.

To make things more enjoyable, he used some funny videos (as funny as a video can be – which is not that funny, to me) .

He made a quick game on awareness (very cool game).

Nigel also presented a way to handle the „I don’t know” answer. He said that if someone tells you so, you can say „If you would know the answer, what it would be?”

Then a new game on why are people afraid of acting.

At one point he says: „I’ve worked in prisons. I know some familiar faces in here.” Also a text similar to this: „After they are 12, people are responsible for their faces” (by Abraham LINCOLN, referring to people smiling). Also: „You’re either in tense, or in past tense”.

Another game was aimed on positive thinking effect on muscles.

From time to time he said „Does this make sense?”

He ended with: „When all is said and done, more is said than done”.

4. Why do I consider Nigel RISNER to be great?
1. When his presentation begun, it took him just a few seconds to get people’s attention; Everything, and I mean everything, on his training had attention-helpers: lots of questions, energetic speaking, provocative affirmations, humor, interaction, audience involvement, call for action, clips; I have yet to participate in a training where my focus was so intense; Everything else being equal, after a workshop you hold on to memories where you were most involved;
2. The subject he picked were of very high interest to me – attention, awareness, human action, positive thinking, even human resources;
3. The training took about 35 minutes. I don’t think I ever changed so many patterns of thinking in such a short time frame;
4. Good humor;
5. (related to 4.) Good logic & intelligence;
6. I left the seminar with the impression that he honestly wanted to help the people around him (due to his actions); It was not all a brand image, he actually applied what he thought was right.

5. What I’d focus on more if I were Nigel?
First of all, I want to present you a small text:
„The shaper is a task-focused leader who abounds in nervous energy, who has a high motivation to achieve and for whom winning is the name of the game. The shaper is committed to achieving ends and will ‘shape’ others into achieving the aims of the team. He or she will challenge, argue or disagree and will display aggression in the pursuit of goal achievement. Two or three shapers in a group, according to Belbin, can lead to conflict, aggravation and in-fighting.” This is from the Belbin Team Inventory page on Wikipedia. I am familiar with the characteristics of the shaper, because it best defines me.

One of Nigel RISNER’s advices (other than people should smile, which he didn’t seem to do) was to be comfortable with a state of discomfort.

I can’t say wether Nigel is a Shaper (according to the Belbin test) or not. I will say that on the single conflict in the workshop (a man didn’t like a personal joke on him), Nigel said: „Do you think I came all the way from UK to argue with you?” (so even in a conflict, he still challenged the situation). I will also say that although it was the best learning experience I’ve had, I’m not sure everybody in the room felt fine with being provoked.

So, if I were Nigel, I’d just be aware on the fact that shaping others leads to discomfort. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

6. Get Nigel to motivate you!
On his contact page on web site, you find information like phone, email, contact form, fax and postal address.

You should first check the services page on web site, to see what Nigel can do.

What impression did this blog post left on you? Please leave a comment below.

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