Think about the last training session you attended. How much do you remember of the content, and how much do you remember about the experience of the day?
In most cases, those two things will correlate fairly strongly. If you have a great learning experience, typically you tend to remember more about the actual topic as well. Conversely, a poor experience will often mean little is learned, and even less is consequently put into practice as a result.
There are a lot of things that can contribute to our learning experiences. Topic and content are key ingredients. Existing understanding, natural talent, and other personal variables also play a role. Even the venue can have an impact – consider how much better you’d learn in a bright, inviting space, compared with a dank, crowded room.
But intersecting all these things is the skills of the person delivering the training. In many ways, the trainer delivering the content is the most important element of a successful event. With the right skills and experience, a great trainer can deliver even the most dry or complex information in an engaging, informative, and accessible way.
Equally, they can adapt the learning experience to capitalise on the pre-existing knowledge, expertise, background and natural talents of the individuals attending the session. They can even find ways to maximise the potential of the environment to deliver the best training outcomes.
What makes a great trainer is a complex mix of subject matter expertise, interpersonal skills, knowledge of learning design principles, an engaging presentation style, and the ability to adapt to a situation or environment.
They are also great at coaching and supporting people who feel less comfortable with a subject, and creating an inclusive and welcoming environment, where individuals can ask questions and engage with the topic without feeling any judgement.
It’s an impressive set of skills when you list them out, and most of us don’t even recognise these qualities in our trainers even when we’re participating in training. We just know we’re having an enjoyable learning experience. This in turn, makes learning easier.
These are obviously essential skills for professional trainers and educators to possess. But the skills and qualities listed above aren’t purely of benefit to training professionals. In truth, developing the skills that great trainers use day in and day out, can have a huge impact on our professional trajectory regardless of our role.
Many of us will, at some point, be asked to share our expertise and knowledge about a subject with others. It may be a formal training session delivered to your whole team, explaining a new process. It might be a one-on-one session with a new team member, helping them to use internal systems. It could even be something relatively trivial, like instructing people on how to use the new coffee machine or photocopier. You could also be asked to train up customers on your product or service, to help them get the most from it.
In all these scenarios you likely already have the subject matter expertise, which is a fantastic starting point. But what about the other skills that great trainers possess? Can you create a comfortable and inclusive environment for people across the business? Are you able to adapt your presentation style to cater to different learning preferences? Would you know how to respond if one team member just wasn’t ‘getting it’?
For some people, these kinds of skills really do come naturally – they just know how to communicate information in the best possible way, and connect easily to their audience. But, for most of us, it takes practice and focus to develop the skills of great trainers. The good news is, that it is worth it. From improving your presentation style, to understanding how others learn, and communicating well one-on-one, there are many ways to use your training skills in the workplace.
Keen to boost your own training skills?
We runn a two-day Train the Trainer course, where you’ll learn about the training cycle, how to assess learning needs, planning events, coaching, evaluating outcomes. You’ll also have to opportunity to deliver mock training sessions, and receive valuable feedback on your delivery style.
This two-day workshop is ideal for those responsible for delivering training of any kind to peers, customers, or other third parties.