Picture This! Visualization Techniques for Trainers

How can visualization help you prepare for—and increase your effectiveness in facilitating—classroom training? In today’s Advisor, we get valuable visualization techniques from an expert trainer.

Even as a seasoned trainer and speaker, Eric Papp still uses visualization before training sessions and presentations. The night before a management seminar, for example, he gets permission to go into the conference room where he will present the next day. He pulls up a chair, closes his eyes, and visualizes how he will greet audience members, move around the room, and facilitate group activities, as well as how audience members will react and become engaged in his presentation.

Papp, who is president of Results-Based Seminars, LLC, and author of Leadership by Choice: Increasing Influence and Effectiveness through Self-Management (, says visualization is a powerful preparation tool for trainers. “When you visualize, you see the outcome that you want to have. We get, oftentimes, what we expect.”

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Visualization, which can take as little as 10 to 20 minutes, also boosts your confidence by settling your nerves, getting you comfortable at the front of the room, and putting you in a “relaxed, meditative state,” he explains. “Preparation begets confidence. The more preparation you have, the more confident you are.”

Visualization also reminds trainers to focus on learners during training—not just on themselves. “Most people solely focus on themselves.”

However, Papp says it is important to visualize learners as well—to “see” them engaged and excited about the training topic and to focus on what you want them to do (e.g., make eye contact with you, lean forward in their seats, laugh at your jokes, answer and ask questions).

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He recommends visualizing as many details as possible, including your nervousness before the session, how you present your opener and how learners react to it, pacing, timing, watching learners take notes, seeing them nod, and shaking their hands at the end of training.

For some trainers, using visualization once before a training session will be enough. Others, especially new trainers, might benefit from doing so several times, Papp says.

Why It Matters

  • Take preparing yourself for a training session as seriously as you take preparing the content for a training session.
  • That includes keeping yourself physically and mentally in good health and in a good frame of mind for training.
  • Visualization is one effective method you can use to prepare yourself to conduct an effective training session.

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