5 Essential Training Skills to Keep In Your Back Pocket

 5 Essential Training Skills To Acquire To Become A Better Trainer

It's no surprise to many that I do a lot of training in one form or another. I tend to use the generic and all encompassing term 'training' to describe any moment I have the privilege to be in front of a group of people who want to hear me or when I develop the content people want to learn.

My 'training' activities are as varied as the topics I deliver. Naturally, my business is to design, develop, and deploy some form of training activity. I even just completed a Train-The-Trainer course for Lynda.com (LinkedIn Learning). So, I get to be in front of people quite often.

My team and I are conducting workshops, teaching university courses, instructing for Canada's professional accounting program. We are also delivering a keynote address, or simply directing a small team, and it's always a privilege to be in a position to share my knowledge with others, especially when it's something they want to know at all times.

I've been conducting training in some form for more than 25 years and I have never taken my role lightly or for granted. It's a huge responsibility when you're asked to develop the knowledge of others. Think about it, people are giving you permission to get into their heads.

It's a huge responsibility to develop the knowledge of others. Think about it, people are giving you permission to get into their heads.

So, why is it that when people just get into training, do 'get into training' thinking though that they can simply 'spray and pray' knowledge? Or why do those with years of experience just seem to get complacent or worse, lazy, and coast on past successes? This is a critical and essential responsibility. Therefore, it impresses me that 'trainers', new and experienced, really do this. Especially, when tasked with such a large and sensitive responsibility.

In the current business environment and for many organizational leaders, knowledge is more valuable than money. But while there is an exponentially increasing need and demand for knowledge, especially from employees, why does the perception of training by business leaders remain precarious? While some may find it easy to blame external factors or others, much of the responsibility and dare I say, accountability, must be on us, the trainer, or learning practitioner.

For many business leaders knowledge is more valuable than money.

Whether you're recent to the 'training' business or consider yourself a seasoned veteran, it's incumbent upon you to hone your training skills not only for your professional capacity but also exceed your audience's expectations. I always want to become a better trainer and will share the top 5 things I always strive to improve.

1. Know And Refresh Yourself With The Fundamentals

One lesson effective trainers discover early is to keep things simple. Doing so allows them to revisit essential fundamental training skills. They will address items such as:

  • Being aware of participant’s learning expectations
  • Aligning those learning expectations with the learning objectives of the course
  • Preparing themselves to focus on core content that addresses learning objectives

2. Be Aware Of And Manage Barriers To Learning

Effective trainers must be attentive to anything that may interfere with the learning process. For example, you should be ready to deal with participants with deep experience. You should be resistant to change, hidden agendas, and of course, to the fear of failure. It's your responsibility to reduce and hopefully eliminate the barriers.

 3. Always Plan The Training And Follow The Training Plan

Think back to a time when you attended a training session which seemed to flow effortlessly. Chances are you will also recall some key takeaways from the session. This didn't occur by happenstance. Rather it's how the trainer planned the session would unfold, how they executed their training plan, and how they were able to adapt the plan to the needs of learners like you.

Furthermore, a training session plan is a road map to make sure that you, the trainer, possess the required resources. It also helps you allocate your time appropriately.

4. Get ParticipantsTo 'Do' Rather Than To 'Hear'

Effective trainers recognize that lasting learning is to get people to apply the skill rather than simply listening or observing it. Yes, you will need to set up the learning context appropriately, so participants understand what they are doing. You should, however, maximize the time to get them to apply their newly found skill by implementing interactive training activities.

For example, let’s say you’re facilitating a session on conflict resolution. Set up the context for them to recognize why this would happen. Then, quickly transition to having participants role play handling a real-life conflict.

5. Continually Evaluate And Revise The Training

You're the trainer and it’s your responsibility to ensure participants have the desired skills when they complete the course. And it’s also your responsibility to continuously adapt and improve the course to the needs of your participants.

Effective trainers continuously seek to improve upon their training session, even if their last session was exceptional. During the session, these trainers quickly adapt to the changing dynamics within the group. They also focus on what's relevant to the group while they do maintain direction and the primary training message at the same time. Post session, they reflect on the session and identify what went well and more importantly, where they can improve.

While there are many innovative and unique training techniques available, successful trainers will always return first to the training basics before adopting any new methodologies.

If you're like me, conducting a training session is an overwhelming process. So, if you want participants to walk away with a positive experience, then remember to keep it simple and to always revisit these five concepts when designing and facilitating your next course.

Don't be complacent and refresh your training skills now. You can do it in 1-hour registering for this Lynda.com Train-the-Trainer eLearning course designed for both recent trainers or seasoned veterans. Learning is not only for your participants. As a trainer you must lead by example and be a learner yourself.