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How to Become a Better Trainer

How to Become a Better Trainer

A post from our Training & Coaching blog

      Written by Ashley Andrews
If you're a trainer by profession, you might assume that you've learnt everything you need to know about teaching others.

This is, however, unlikely. In fact, being a good trainer involves continually seeking out ways to deliver a better experience for your trainees. It's as much learning as it is teaching – and it's a constant work in progress.

So what tactics can you employ to make sure you're delivering the best training possible? And are there any common pitfalls to look out for? Here are a few tips on how to become a better trainer.

1. Avoid the biggest trainer mistakes

Some of the most common trainer downfalls include:
  • Under-preparing. Cobbled-together content not only looks unprofessional; it's also really hard to digest. Under-preparing in any way for any aspect of a particular training session will always affect the results in a detrimental manner.
  • Giving generic training. No two businesses are the same, so it's important to differentiate your training program so you set your colleagues and company apart from the competition.
  • Not listening enough. A trainer's job is to engage his or her audience so that the message sticks. Not allowing room for interaction is a surefire way to lose your trainees' attention.
  • Not following up. The only way to be sure that your training is successful is to come back to it at intervals, rather than treating it as a one time only exercise.
We've more on how to avoid falling into these trainer traps, in this article.

2. Stay curious about your industry

Those who are the best at their game, whatever that game is, are the ones who make sure they keep their hand in. Whether it's design, music, science or indeed workplace training – you'll deliver a more engaging course if you stay up-to-date with what's happening in your industry.

You might consider networking events with others in your sector. It could involve ‘back to the floor' days, where you refresh your hands-on experience of the sales floor, for example.

In fact, a lot of great trainers choose to alternate between training and time spent in industry – by as much as 12 to 18 months ‘on' and then ‘off' again. Or it could be as simple as a bit of self-motivated internet research. Understanding the current trends and developments in your field will enable you to arm your trainees with the appropriate tools for success.

3. Get accredited

Learning is a significant part of the training game. Even those who feel they‘ve all the relevant knowledge to do their job can still pick up new skills by earning accreditations. And, in many industries, there's an increased expectation that individuals continue their professional development, in a formally recognised way – like a CPD training course. Getting certified in your field is basically your mark of approval, and it can go a long way in instilling faith in your services as a trainer. Not to mention the chance you'll have to really refine your skills.

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4. Keep developing your process

If you have the best content in the world, your training will fall short if you don't deliver it in a way that's engaging and meaningful to your audience. So, if anything, honing your process is even more important than what's actually in your training program. And it's also vital that your process doesn't remain static – what worked six months ago might not have quite the same impact now. We can look at social media as an example. It began as a page of static images and a few lines of posts. Now it's packed with fast-paced video content and largely visual, because that's more relevant to today's audience.

It's not always easy to know what works and what doesn't, so courses like Train the Trainer –  which cover not only the 'what' but the 'how' of teaching – can help you recognise the strengths and weaknesses of your delivery.

5. Look for patterns of success and failure

On that note, it's important to spend a little time self-reflecting. Those who are really successful at training others are the ones who look for patterns of effectiveness in their method. It's the same with sales, or any job really. The only way to get better at something is to spot where we're achieving great results and, perhaps even more importantly, where we can learn from our mistakes.

6. Ask for feedback

A trainer might avoid seeking feedback, for fear of opening themselves up to criticism. But negative comments are actually some of the most useful, in terms of professional development. So there's really no such thing as bad feedback.

Simple feedback forms are a great place to start. But you might also consider things like pre/post-tests, so you can really measure the effectiveness of your training. Pre/post-tests are designed to measure your trainees' grasp of your course content and, as such, their preparedness to utilise their new skills within the workplace. The tests demonstrate how much they knew before they were trained, and how much knowledge they've absorbed by the end of the course. So, if you're doing a great job, you'd expect to see a marked improvement by the time the post-test arrives.

This is a great way to spot gaps in your training, as well as to see which bits scored consistently highly and could serve as a template, in terms of delivery.

7. Use your senses

Location can have a real effect on how well we're able to learn. That might sound obvious – after all, we've all experienced how hard it can be to concentrate if there's a lot of noise in the room. But research has recently proven the positive impact that a ‘good' working environment can have in the context of the school system, and the same is true of any learning environment.

So it's worth starting to pay attention to the surroundings in which you deliver your training. Use your senses to point you in the direction of any improvements that could be made. For example: is the room quiet? Does it smell nice? How's the temperature and lighting? You might not be able to do a lot about the building site next to your office, but if your training room's located next to the canteen, for example, and there's another one available in a quieter part of the building, perhaps try using that one instead. Minor tweaks to a learning environment can do a lot to improve how well your training sticks.

It's important to remember that teaching skills aren't necessarily innate, but they can be developed. Learning to adapt to your audience and environment is the key to delivering a really great training program and even the best trainers can continue to hone their skills through something like a dedicated Train the Trainer course.

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