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The Secret to my Institute of IT Training Award Success Part II

Following on from The Secret to my Institute of IT Training Award Success Part I.

So I have submitted my Institute of IT Training (IITT) Freelance Trainer of the Year Award with minutes to spare on the submission deadline.

I wait for the confirmation email from Nikki Kettle confirming that my submission has been delivered within time, and when the short list results will be announced, indicating whether one is successful or not.

In the mean time life carries on as per usual as a freelance IT trainer, until the day of the short list results.  On that day everything stops, you check you emails constantly asking and wondering have I done it, have I been short listed?

So on you get back from work, and you see the coveted envelop branded with Institute of IT Training (IITT) logo.  Shaking with nerves, as you rip open the envelope you are asking yourself, have I been short-list or not.

There it is in black and white, you see the words "Congratulations you have been short-listed for the Freelance Trainer of the Year award".  In the key first initial moments you do not bother to read the rest of the letter, as at this point, those other little details are not really that important.

You are excited, happy and feel a million and one things, texting, phoning and emailing friends and family the good news.

A little while later, you go back to the letter, as the practicality sinks in, this is the IITT awards, and although you have been short listed, you are only half way on getting your hot sweaty hands on a piece of silverware.
  So first things first, you will have to attend a judging panel at the IITT head quarters in Coventry, on a set date and time, if you cannot attend you are out of the running.

Well that one is easy enough, but by the time I have calculated how long it will take to negotiate the car park commonly known as the M6 motorway, I work out that I will have to wake up at 5am!!!!

For someone like me this poses a challenge in itself, as I normally only see one 5 o’clock a day, and it definitely is not the am variety.  So I have my first wobble, how much do I really want this award?

The judging panel part of the award, lasts for 30mins, consists of 3 parts:

  • An Overview of the Submission, as to why you should win the award

  • A training session, based on a topic decided by the IITT, and

  • A panel Q & A question.

We have access to the room 5 minutes before our alloted time, and there will be a flipchart and projector available for your use.

At the end of the judging panel, there will be a photo taken, so if you ever wonder why all the trainers look so harassed, stressed and/or shell shocked, you now know why.

Things are not looking too bad at this point, as I will play to my strengths, the overview of the submission part lasts for a maximum of 10 minutes, so I have to decide what is the message I want to leave the judging panel with?

Of the 11 categories to be answered within the award submission I decide the most important aspect to concentrate on is “Delivering a Strong Learning Experience”, and it is with that I set about designing my PowerPoint presentation with all the supporting evidence.

With only 10 minutes to present, the maximum number of slides I want to use is 10, which includes the title slide, an overview of what I am going to talk about, with the last slide purely an animated slide that supports and concludes my presentation.

As for the training session, I decide that I will be using a flipchart to allow maximum interactivity and flexibility between myself and the judging panel, without technology getting in the way.

As to the Q & A session, well I have to play that one by ear and talk from the heart.

When you have been short listed, you are always curious to know who you are up against, and so once you have the logistics of the what you are going to do, it's off to Google to find out more about the competition.

The type of freelance trainer, will determine whether you can find any information about the them.  Finding out a previous winner has been short listed can be a bit daunting, but if you have already won the award, you really have to raise your game, to win it a second time.

But this award is really about “Why YOU should win the award, and not anyone else, so in real terms it does not matter what the others are doing.

The day of the judging panel comes, you are suited and booted, slides proofed, spell-checked, uploaded and tested on the laptop, car full of petrol, you have got your best tunes sorted for playing on the mini disc player, necessary munchies are within arms length, and an emergency supply are handy, for unforeseen traffic delays, you are set and ready to win that award.

You reach the IITT head quarters, and as soon as you step in the office and see the list of your competitors the nerves kick in, if you are not the first of the day usually you will see the previous trainer before going in to do your bit.

I remember one time, not only had I forgotten my car registration, but also my name luckily for me it was on the board, to help me out.

The next 40 minutes goes very quickly, you are given 5 minutes to set up, which once done, seems to be an age before the judges enter the room, they introduce themselves, and sit down, the nerves have just ratched up another notch and the session begins, while you are delivering your first presentation they are scribbling notes, you are thinking “Are they writing good or bad things about me?”

They give very little away, so you look for an ally in the room, if you are lucky and have Alan Bellinger on the judging panel, that’s great because he is always smiling.

First presentation over, now for the training session, this is great, because this is where your true training personality can shine through.  You get to interact with the judging panel, you get to give them the learning experience that you deliver to your clients, this is the easy bit.

An finally, the Q & A session, this is a tough one, as the judging panel can ask you absolutely anything, which can result in them throwing a spanner in the works.  The nerves are back, my throat is dry so I take my glass of water sit down, make myself comfortable to prepare myself for the grilling.

At the end of the Q & A session, we shake hands, the judging panel leaves and I finally relax.  I feel exhilarated, happy, tired and exhausted.

Before I leave the IITT head quarters, it’s the head and shoulder photo for the awards program, and it skip back to the car while calling my best friend relaying the last 45 minutes of my life.

So my advice to anyone who has been short listed for the 2011 IITT awards is, with regards to the judging panel:

  • Be prepared

  • Decide what the key message is with regards to the award submission presentation

  • Ensure that this key message runs through and/or evident in both presentations

  • If you are using PowerPoint:

    • Make sure the slides look professional
    • Less is more
    • Remember the colour schemes
    • If they are going to be gimmicky, make sure that the judging panel get it!!!!
    • If using transitions, allow for any ad-libbing one may add during the session

  • Arrive with plenty of time to spare

  • Style is great, but it is even better if you have style and substance

  • Own it, be yourself, deliver with authenticity and from the heart

  • But most of all remember this award is an opportunity to shout about “Why YOU should win it?

If you have any questions, or need any assistance, please do not hesitate to Contact Us

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