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Tips for trainers

The following tips provide some guidance for people required to present information or awareness raising sessions on the subject of equal opportunity in the workplace.

Be clear about what you want to achieve

When presenting, it is important to know what you want to achieve before you start. Stop and think about the key messages you want to get across in the time allowed for the presentation, and plan what you are going to say accordingly.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Depending on the length of the presentation, ask yourself; what are the three or four main points you want participants to know.
  • Decide on the format/style to use. For example, will it be a lecture or talk, a workshop or a skills based training program.
  • Pre-arrange a set of useful questions you might like to ask some or all of your audience.
  • Try not to labour too much on the letter of the law - rather focus on behaviours covered in your organisational policies - most agencies will examine complaints about any sort of misconduct. However, be clear in your own mind about which laws are relevant in order to respond to questions.
  • If you plan to use role-plays, give participants the opportunity to observe a demonstration before asking them to conduct them. This will help them to familiarise themselves with the stories and prepare for the exercise. If people are anxious about taking part in the role-plays, allow participants to ‘talk to' the case if they feel too anxious about being 'in the role'.
  • Consider the benefits of using other aids such as videos, PowerPoint and case studies.

Managing group dynamics

Harassment, discrimination and bullying are sensitive topics. These subjects can provoke a wide range of feelings on the part of the participants. Two responses that may emerge when presenting are:

  1. Emotional reactions by participants who might identify with a topic.
  2. Hostility from participants who oppose equal opportunity/anti-discrimination messages.

Here are some tips for dealing with such reactions:

1. Handling emotional responses

Set clear ground rules at the beginning of the session. This might include asking the group to agree on some basic rules such as maintaining confidentiality, respecting others' opinions, and taking responsibility for one's own learning by asking questions.

Allow opportunities for participants to leave the session without feeling uncomfortable, and state this in your opening remarks.

People can feel embarrassed to raise their concerns in a group situation. If someone becomes distressed during the session, make sure you talk to him or her privately afterwards. Be prepared to refer them to appropriate places for extra support or where they can get more information.

2. Dealing with hostility

On some occasions, as a trainer or presenter you may be confronted by people who are opposed to the messages that you are trying to deliver.

Here are some points to consider if this happens:

  • Before presenting the session, think through your own attitudes towards the subject matter.
  • Do not attack or humiliate people for the views that they hold.
  • Ask them to consider whether their views would be any different if the behaviour was experienced by a friend, partner, son or daughter.
  • Emphasise the point that equal opportunity laws only apply to discrimination in the public arena, and that people are still entitled to their personal opinions.
  • Take care with your own words and behaviours. It is important that you provide a good role model when you are presenting on this topic.
  • Avoid any behaviour that shows discrimination or harassment or stereotyping of any group on the basis of race, sex, sexuality, etc.

If you decide that the program may be better received by having an external facilitator consider contacting the Equal Opportunity Commission.