What Makes a Great Trainer?
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In this guide, we outline the most important attributes for anyone providing training and education to adults. If you are a trainer, tutor, teacher, facilitator or instructor, or you're interested in becoming one, we can help be one of the best!
Part of our criteria for granting accreditation is: does your organisation provide good trainers? This frequently involves our Train the Trainer course, designed to provide necessary subject knowledge and presentation skills. Passing this course demonstrates a trainer is qualified and capable in teaching others.
In order to accredit a centre, trainer, or course, we carry out a in-depth analysis of course materials and those who will be presenting these materials. We ensure high quality, checking trainers have appropriate qualifications, certificates and experience. If relevant, we will also check references and testimonials of former students.
The trainers we accredit should demonstrate the following attributes:
Knowledge and Expertise
Trainers require a strong understanding of their particular subject. They know the ins-and-outs of the industry, and know the course material like the back of their hand. A passion for the topic is always beneficial as it keeps learners engaged and enthusiastic.
Our accredited trainers will often teach professionals in their respective fields, and so learners are likely to have existing knowledge. The trainer should demonstrate expertise that goes above and beyond what learners already know. Otherwise, the training is pointless.
Often, our centres provide trainers from within their own organisation. This is very helpful, as they already have an understanding of the company, the sector and any relevant best practice procedures. This background knowledge helps trainers adapt lessons to each unique set of learners, and every individual classroom context.
However, these must be some balance here. While the trainer should be knowledgeable they must be able to simplify their topics. Learners respond to demonstrations, concise ideas, and real-world examples based on their experience.
Tip: Don't stick with the old. Continue to learn new things. Be aware of trends and current events relevant to your industry.
This is perhaps the most obvious and most essential to the skillset of any trainer. In presenting information, it is vital the learners can understand and process all of it. This means keeping things as simple, concise and easy to understand as possible. Be sure to check all learners are with you regularly. If someone is struggling, try to find other words or even some activity to help them understand. Switch up your methods, from presentation slides to videos to group discussions so that all learners stay engaged throughout the course.
Sometimes the course content includes sensitive information. You may choose to warn learners ahead of time if they will see or hear potentially distressing content. Be aware of your learner's reactions. A debrief at the end of each session, ensuring everyone is comfortable and content, can be helpful in these courses.
Of course, communication is not just talking, but listening too. Ask questions and encourage input from learners. Carefully listen to their ideas, questions or concerns and address them in full. From the beginning, create a welcoming and positive environment. Learn names, smile, and make eye-contact. Communication is about body language as well as talking.
Common struggles arise when training must be done online. Many people have difficultly maintaining focus in virtual classrooms. Try asking more questions to keep learners talking and avoid long stretches where you are the only speaker. Another challenge to communication is different learning styles. Read on for more information:
Learn by reading or seeing pictures Remember things they have seen
Prefer to see what they are learning
Often attracted by colour and images
Learn by hearing and listening
Remember things they have heard
Understand spoken instructions better
Often read out loud
Sometimes called tactile or hands-on learners
Learn by touching and doing
Remember things through physical movement
Learn better when some type of physical activity is involved
A trainer should accommodate for all learning styles in their presentation and materials.
For visual learners, show graphs, illustrations and diagrams. Colour-code and highlight keywords in blocks of text.
For auditory learners, read text aloud and ensure any videos presented include voiceover.
For kinesthetic learners, provide hands-on tasks and activities such as mind-mapping or role-play.
One of the most important attributes of a trainer is flexibility. You must be able to think on your feet. As every course, every classroom and every learner is different, trainers need to adapt their teaching appropriately. This could mean using more hands-on activities than you had anticipated in a classroom full of kinetic learners, or finding a new way to present course content if technology isn't playing ball. Creative problem solving is essential.
Often tensions and disruptions arise when a group gets together. It helps to be aware of different group dynamics, and how to accommodate for various personality types in a learning environment. For example, consider how you could encourage a quieter person to interact with other learners while also encouraging a louder person to actively listen.
Organisation and Discipline
While flexibility is crucial, it is also important to organise yourself and plan ahead. The key here is balance: know your plan, but don't be afraid of adapting it.
The first step here is understanding the goal of the training. Do learners need to practise skills? Do they need to know the information back-to-front, or is a broad overview more appropriate? Keeping focussed on the goal of training avoids wasting your organisation's time and money.
Trainers must be disciplined and able to keep themselves and their learners on track. This means arriving on time, taking appropriate breaks, checking all learners are up to speed, and behaving professionally at all times.
In order to become a great trainer, your goal should be continuous improvement. You must reflect on each training session, asking yourself:
What went well?
What could you improve upon?
How did learners respond?
Did you meet your goals?
Self-evaluation and analytical skills are a must.
If you are looking to become an accredited trainer, please contact us today. We are happy to answer any and all questions you may have.