Showing Content Expertise
The manner in which you present the content will affect the learners' confidence in your abilities. For example, if you are not familiar with the course flow, the order in which topics are covered, and must continually read from a course manual, it gives the impression of being unprepared.
Before the day of your event, be sure to spend sufficient time reviewing the courseware. Familiarize yourself with the subject matter, the course plan, and the learning activities prescribed by the course designer. Perform the activities yourself, so that if learners have difficulty in class, you'll readily understand and know how to assist them.
In addition to reviewing the courseware, you can research topics beyond those covered in the cause materials. The more you prepare, the more confident you'll feel about the information and your ability to answer questions or handle problems that arise.
In your preparation, be sure to review any courses that follow yours in the learning series. Then be sure not to "over teach" and cover that material in your own event.
Beyond a thorough knowledge of the material, understand how the learner or organization will use the course skills after the training. Prior to the event, you can speak with an organization representative and ask them what they hope their employees will gain from the training. Before the class begins, ask each learner how they expect the course skills to transfer to their workplace.
This understanding can help you teach directly to those outcomes, thereby increasing the opportunity for success after the event. It can also help you relate to the learners, increasing their confidence in your ability to get them where they need to be.
With all of this groundwork, there might still be questions that arise for which you're not prepared. If so, don't be embarrassed or feel inadequate. This happens to all trainers from time to time. Not having an answer is not a failure. How you handle such a situation will determine your success and whether or not you lose credibility.
The worst thing you can do is make up an answer on the spot. At first, this might seem appealing because it gives the appearance that you know the answer. But if you're wrong and learners discover this, you'll lose credibility and trust instantly.
A more professional and successful approach is to acknowledge the question, for example "That's a good question, Tom." Next, admit that you don't have an answer at this time and tell the person what you're able to do instead.
You can open the question up to the class. Perhaps someone else can answer. Or you can tell the person that you'll research it on break, or consult a subject-matter expert and report back.
Another technique is to create a question parking lot, where you note unanswered questions to be addressed later. For example, if a question comes up that's out of scope, it's completely appropriate to "park" the question until it is better answered. Like outlining expectations, it's always better to set this expectation before class begins. Post the questions publicly assigning either a time or lesson when the question can best be answered. If the question is completely outside the scope of the course, it's appropriate to answer it after class since the learner will probably need the entire class as background and base knowledge.
Be sure to keep your word on whatever you've promised. In most cases, given a little time, you can successfully find an answer and expand your own knowledge in the process. It can be a win-win situation