Not that we’re trying to do ourselves out of a job or anything, but one of the things on which my company Searchlight offers training is how to deliver training. Train the trainer courses are one of the more popular ‘soft skills’ workshops we offer.In practice, their main purpose is not to launch individuals on a full-time career as a trainer. It’s typically more about equipping knowledgeable people with the skills they need to share their knowledge effectively with others.All too often in the world of business, individuals are asked to pass on skills or expertise without a basic understanding of the best way to pass on what they know. It’s inefficient, and it’s unrewarding for everyone concerned.A one-day train the trainer workshop can be all it takes to equip someone with the basic understanding they need to communicate knowledge or skills professionally, effectively and confidently.As with many things in life, preparation makes all the difference when it comes to training. That’s why the first thing we impress on would-be trainers is the importance of working out in advance exactly what they’ll be communicating – and how they’ll be doing it.
The key to making knowledge stick is getting participants to apply their learning in practical ways during a session
It’s essential to be clear about both what learners are expecting from the training and the overall objectives of the exercise. This might involve conducting some kind of training needs analysis (which we obviously cover in our workshops) to identify what trainees do and don’t already know.Starting with a clearly mapped-out plan including approximate timings, helps keep training delivery on course. It also highlights what resources or materials a trainer is likely to need, whether that’s handouts, props, whiteboards, or audiovisual equipment.When we train would-be trainers, we always emphasise the importance of basic logistics. Not having the right environment or resources can throw a training session completely off course. Wherever possible, dry runs are advisable.We also emphasise that trainers need to be prepared to cope with obstacles to learning which might not normally become apparent until a session’s underway. How will they deal with disruptive or inattentive learners – or with individuals who may push back if they already know something about the topics covered?Different people learn in different ways. So trainers will typically need to vary their style of training during a session, to keep all participants engaged and motivated. It’s also important to understand how to adapt delivery for different groups and different training formats.The key to making knowledge stick is getting participants to apply their learning in practical ways during a session. We teach techniques such as mini-breakouts and roleplay to bring topics to life and make learning more sticky.It’s a quirk of human nature that we retain information we’ve correctly recalled in front of others better than information we’ve got wrong or not known. So setting participants up to provide a correct response helps embed what they’re learning.As well as keeping participants engaged and alert, it’s important to verify understanding before moving on – and then at the end of a session (or afterwards) to assess how much has really sunk in. Establishing benchmarks in advance makes testing meaningful.In our train the trainer workshops we take an exhaustively practical approach, looking in detail at everything from sourcing and developing content and resources, to room layout, types of equipment, and motivational techniques.There’s a vast hinterland of theoretical material on the right and wrong ways to train, and we cover some of this as well. But the key thing we hope people take away from our train the trainer sessions is a broad appreciation of the practical considerations and the confidence they’ll need to lead a training session.