Becoming a great workplace trainer starts with three words (Part 1)

 May 09, 2014

Many, many, many years ago I attended my first ‘Train the Trainer’ course in Hawthorn, Victoria. Becoming a great workplace trainer starts with three words; structurevision and commitment. One of the things I remember the most about the course was the importance of structure, which is what I'll further explain today. They said that, for all of your training courses, you must always have an introductionbody and conclusion (IBC). How right they were. First things first though, you must find out two things before you start to plan your IBC:
  1. Find out how much time you have to run your training course or session e.g. 1 hr, 4 hrs, 6 hrs, etc.
  2. You must ascertain the objectives of your training course, in other words, why the training and what does it hope to achieve?
Introduction Let’s now talk about the introduction of your training course. You need a good strong opening, often referred to as the ‘grab.’ This could be a dramatic photograph on a PowerPoint slide, telling a quote, a short, relevant story, or a short personal story, using a prop, featuring a guest speaker, or showing a short YouTube clip, etc. Get creative. One more thing, don’t forget to establish your credibility with the group; adult learners need to feel comfortable and confident with their trainer. Other elements of your introduction include a duty of care statement, the course or session objectives, and most importantly find out from your audience want they want to take away from the course. Get them talking early; the more they talk, the less you talk. Above all, get them thinking! Finally, if you intend to assess their skills and knowledge of the content then let them know this in your introduction. Don’t spring a 30 question exam on them at 4pm! Adult learners dislike unpleasant surprises, especially late in the day. So keep your introduction clear, smooth and clean, and whatever you do, don’t go into the body of the training session during your introduction. This is a big no-no. Before moving into the body of your training session, say ‘goodbye’ to your introduction, for example, "that concludes the introduction, let’s now focus on our first objective which is..." Body Structure the body of your training session around your course objectives. So let’s say you have six objectives, this means the body of the training course contains six sections. Lean away from using the same training methods for all six sections. For example, for section one you might use four PowerPoint slides, demonstration and discussion. For section two, you might use a training DVD, role-plays and mini-presentations given by the students. For section three, you might use some props, a case study and a problem-solving activity. Just mix it up. In case you’re wondering why all the different training methods, it’s because adults generally learn in three different ways i.e. by listening (auditory), by observing (visual), and by doing (kinaesthetic). So ensure your training methods appeal to all types of learning styles, and not just one style, or worst still, the one you like the most! My final thoughts on the body of your training session is to PLEASE keep it moving. Remember the clock because time flies and adults easily tune-out, especially after lunch, if the section or discussion is not relevant to them. Try your hardest to keep everyone engaged throughout the course. Final, final point…before you move to the next section within the body of your training session, get into the habit of always using a transitioning statement. For example, “Well done everyone. Now before we move to section two, are there any thoughts, questions or reflections on what we have just covered?” Before we move on, let’s briefly touch on assessing their skills and knowledge of the course content. Before concluding a section or the whole body of your course, ask yourself, “Have I assessed or tested their skills or knowledge on the section and/or the overall course content?” Remember if you don’t conduct some form of skills and/or knowledge assessment then your training session is not a training session, it’s just a presentation. So, for example, if you were conducting a training session on Customer Service you might conduct a written test of say 18 questions that you conduct after the body of your session. You have options here. You can assess your students section by section, or at the end of the final section but before moving to you the conclusion. Don’t make the course assessment part of your conclusion. Conclusion Keep your conclusion sharp. Whatever you do, don’t go into new content; it’s too late in the day or the course is nearly over, so new content will not be well received. A good framework to use in your conclusion is the 'OFF model':
  • Outcomes e.g. "we have achieved what we set-out to achieve."
  • Feedback e.g. "well done everyone, terrific effort."
  • Future e.g. "I am running an advanced course in Conflict Management next week."
Remember you are also a salesperson so ‘sell and promote’ your programs to whoever, whenever and wherever you can. My last tip for the conclusion of your training sessions is to always finish with something that will ‘stick’ in the minds of your audience long after they have left the room. So the techniques you could use to open your session can also be used to close your session; a short story, a quote, a short, powerful video clip or my favourite, a rhetorical question. For instance, "To close the session, here’s a question, what will happen to you if you don’t start to delegate? Thank you for attending and have a great week." That’s it. Don’t dribble on, learn to stop talking. Use silence to deliver a thought-provoking end to your training session. So structure your training sessions and you will enjoy three main benefits as the trainer: calmness, confidence and control. In my next blog post, I'll discuss the other two elements that helps create a great workplace trainer - vision and commitment, so stay tuned!

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About the Author:

Stan Thomas  

Stan has been working in a professional training capacity for over 15 years and possesses a wealth of knowledge in the areas of adult education gained through both formal study and practical training delivery both nationally and internationally. As the Professional Development Manager for New Horizons Melbourne, Stan is responsible for the delivery, quality control and enhancement of existing and new programs at New Horizons.

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