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What Are the Characteristics of an Effective Trainer?

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What Are the Characteristics of an Effective Trainer?

What Are the Characteristics of an Effective Trainer?

A post from our Training and Coaching blog

Article author: Ashley Andrews
      Written by Ashley Andrews
Training adults is very different from teaching pre-schoolers. Kids have little world experience, so they absorb anything the teacher says.

However, most adults are world-weary and a trainer has to do a little more to get them to learn. Too often, the adult is processing anything new that they're hearing and subconsciously filtering what they are hearing through what they already "know". If it doesn't stack up, they don't absorb it. Or don't even seem to want to.

In general, adults learn best when what they feel the lesson taught is going to be useful. They may understand the importance of training, but they also need to experience its applicability. If they can't see its application in real life, they'll simply be going through the motions.

This is why trainers need to find ways to motivate adults to take part, and one of the best ways to do that is to find a connection between the training and their goals. Understanding how adults learn best can help trainers develop more effective training programmes. Trainer, instructor, facilitator, presenter; their nom de guerre doesn't really matter. What matters is how they can provide delegates with the knowledge to perform better at their jobs.

While training may sound like all talk, being an effective trainer is much more than that. Being a great trainer requires soft skills and a high level of motivation. Having the following characteristics is also a big plus:

Effective trainer

Excellent Communication Skills

It may sound obvious, but trainers should have great communication skills. The best trainers can break down complex ideas and explain them clearly to trainees.

But breaking down complex ideas in order to explain them is in itself a very broad term. A trainer with good communications skills will know how to explain something clearly using terminology that people can understand, but also realise that if a trainee is someone that is more visually oriented, know how to get the delegate to imagine the training concept as a picture, rather than with words.

That means that for one trainee who learns by seeing pictures, or imagining them, they would use far more in the way of adverbs and adjectives than they would with another trainee who is more analytical, and does not require the mental pictures.

So a good trainer's great communication skills often is reflected in a wide use of vocabulary, they have a lot of weapons in their arsenal when trying to describe something.

They also need to be able to listen actively, but also be sensitive enough to pick up on non-verbal communication that the trainees are giving, such as if they are bored, because the content is being addressed at a level that they feel is too low or simple. Or realising that the delegate is floundering because they cannot cope.

The training environment must also maintain open lines of communication, so trainees are comfortable enough to ask questions. Any extra training material must also be easy to follow and actually helpful to the trainee.

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Nobody looks forward to 'yet another training session'.

To get around this, trainers should use different methods to get trainees excited about taking the course. Whether it's changing the delivery format or the type of course material handed out, you should always aim to make your courses lively.

To keep training courses upbeat, great trainers always encourage student participation. Asking questions during training will keep trainees engaged, and it also helps trainers assess how much of the material the students are assimilating.

Adults learn best when they can practice what they learn. To be considered effective, training sessions must include practice segments.

Possesses Industry Knowledge

Good trainers understand the concepts and nuances that prevail in the industry. They know what makes the workforce and customers tick, and they also have an eye on its trends. This knowledge is crucial as delegates can quickly spot a trainer who's only reading from a prepared slide.

Having adequate knowledge also helps with designing an effective training programme. It can help trainers choose which training medium to use, the type of activities to include, etc. An added bonus is that a well-read trainer can always find an angle to make even the most boring topic lively.

This is actually one of the hardest areas for a full time trainer to stay up to date in. They may have become a trainer because they were an expert in their field, but the time actually spent training, and away from their field, means that unless they make a commitment to staying informed and up to date, they actually lose touch with their field of expertise.

It actually means that for the very best trainers, they alternate between periods of working in the field, and being a full time trainer. A good rule of thumb in this regard is about 18 months in each capacity. They're never too far from the industry, and can pick up what may have changed in the 18 months that they were training. In addition, by having breaks from training, they are unlikely to fall into the a rut that can occur to trainers that deliver the same material over and over again.

One final point in this section: occasionally a trainer will encounter a trainee that actually already knows a lot about the subject. There are a few reasons that the person may be on the course in the first place, but a common one is that an organization is trying to get everybody up to a certain level.

That often means that the person with a lot of experience does not get the chance to learn a lot. everybody is going through the training together, to get the rest of the people up to that person's standard.

Now, while that person may not be learning much of the actual course content, the trainee is still far more likely to get involved and commit to the course if they feel that the trainer does know their stuff. As soon as a trainee feels that they know more than the trainer, they switch off. Having good industry knowledge helps here.

Maybe the person recognises that they may not learn a lot, if they do appreciate that the trainer is knowledgeable, they'll feel happy that their colleagues will learn, and so joins in to facilitate that.
Lively presentation

Passionate About Learning

Trainers who are passionate about learning understand that it is an ever-evolving process.

Recognising the value of learning in their own lives, they spend time developing themselves as well. The passion they devote to honing their skills is reflected in the quality of the training they offer. They're not just going through the motions when they train, the genuinely hope to see each delegate improve, and even have their life changed.

Their continuous learning exposes them to different methods of engaging trainees and learning styles, too. Even different philosophies can influence a change in training techniques, so good trainers are always looking at new philosophies of training.

By keeping abreast of the latest insights in training, good trainers will remain in demand.

High Level of Professionalism

The best trainers understand that people learn at different speeds and in different ways. Regardless of how fast trainees pick up on the concepts taught, the trainer must always remain patient. They also create time to interact with each delegate to make sure they understand the material before moving on.

Excellent trainers are also open-minded and willing to listen to different points of view. They don't assume they know everything and will never talk down to their trainees.

Unfortunately, not every trainer is effective, and that is because not every trainer possesses these characteristics. It is not enough to simply talk to the trainees - a trainer must also be insightful, charismatic, passionate, and above all, have exceptional communication skills.

Without these characteristics, trainees won't be engaged and the training session will not be worthwhile. But a trainer who does have these characteristics will have the ability to convey clear messages, help people develop and potentially change someone's entire mind-set for the better.

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