Saturday, May 14, 2011

How to be a good trainer. 5 rules that always work


Trainings today form one of the core activities any organization plans, to excel in the industry. And so should be the case. We are living in a knowledge driven world. You simply can’t assume to hire the best of all available in this world. Most of us simply can’t whether startups or well settled conglomerates. And with regards to cost perspectives in startups it makes business sense to groom someone rather than throwing high paychecks to poach skilled teams.
Training again is not limited just to office teams. You train the customer about the product; you train the franchisee, the broker, the regulator, every one. And when training becomes so very important it makes sense to have a checklist of things that we are supposed to follow.

The very basic every training manager should know

At the outset we do understand that training is a kind of communication. So rules that you apply for good communication, applies to training too. But then there are certain parameters that weigh higher than others. Going through and conducting couple of trainings myself now-a-days at office, I have compiled a list of attributes that I found will enhance any training and make you a good training manager.
As I said there are certain parameters which will weigh higher than the others. I have mentioned them separately out here. Do save this post for future references and use it as a checklist whenever you are planning to train someone.

Qualities of a good trainer

1. Firstly who are you training

This can be always claimed as the golden rule of trainings. Since you have been chosen to train a group of people I am assuming that you know the subject you are going to train about and you are identified as an expert. That forms the lifeline of the training (Knowing the content). Post that, knowing the audience forms the backbone. All the strategies that you devise to train depend on your understanding of the audience.
That’s the prime reason most of the trainers ask the group to introduce themselves and describe the reason what motivates them to attend the training. Bottom-line, if you don’t know the profile of the audience simply do not proceed.

2. Humor adds life to your training

To better make this engrossed in your understanding let me say Humor adds life because It keeps your audience awake : -) A good joke cracked at the right time rejuvenates the whole environment. Though there are certain precautions to be taken on this humor driven communication (Will probably have a separate post for that subject).
I have attended classic presentations where humor was not just to make environment lively but also to increase the retention period of the topic. For example talking about the best practices of sales, rather than telling what’s wrong and what’s right; can you pull a joke of what will happen if something is blindly followed? Creating satire in the right way too makes a person remember. Bottom line Humor is important; it has to be timely, healthy and relevant.

3. Good Training is all about engagement

Training is an important activity but getting trained is not so exciting. Why? Because most of the times it is passive. People sit there listening to the trainer (Some even fall asleep with eyes wide open, I don’t know exactly how that is done). So first change the rules. Change the way the training is done. Engage them in every section of training, ask them questions, answer there queries in different ways. Push them to think new things.
Till the time the audience is engaged, the audience is active. As a trainer you have to maintain eye contact, rehearse the whole presentation, actively listen, move slides, use the whole area, and a bunch of few more things how can you concentrate and make sure that each listener is actually listening to you? Bottom-line Engagement is not a good to have quality it’s a compulsion.

4. Show them the real world

Try to answer this tough question, what is more interesting – watching Jurassic Park or understanding a new business process that your team has to comply to? Well that was easy. That’s what happens. If the audience understands the importance of the training and still is not active, the blame is on you. Try to create a Jurassic park!
Derive maximum examples as possible. Try to articulate the concepts to which the audiences connect. Tell stories, Create scenes, make relative analogies. That way you make the content easier to absorb. Bottom line if you draw pictures in their minds you ensure that they retain content.

5. Ask the right question

As trainers we are very much engrossed in answering the questions. Resolving doubts. Is that really required? Understand this – which concept would be retained more in the minds of the audience, the one which you answer or the one they understand? That’s a tricky question of course. I believe making the audience derive an answer by themselves will make them have a connect with it. Finally they have derived the answer.
How that is done? I tend to cross question the one who raises a doubt. While answering my cross questions I lead the person to derive answer to his question. That way not only he understands the concept far better, even I win an image of an expert for myself (whether I am or not? that really doesn’t matter). Bottom line, it’s not about the right answer, it’s about the right question.


There are a heck lot of more tips that are buzzing around my ears right now, but let’s put it to the part two of this post. Next time when we discuss this topic we would probably have tips as one liners and try to compile as much relevant tips as possible.
Up until then, what about your training experience, do you feel bored in some types of trainings. Have you been a trainer? How will you rejuvenate trainings in that case? The baton goes to you, comment on this post and let me know your views about the same.
And in case if you found this post worth, do pass share this real experience with at least one of your colleague. Now!

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