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Trainer X factor

I have been asked a number of times what makes a great trainer, so I decided to come up with a few thoughts in my mind of what makes a great trainer based on my experiences of being trained.


I soon realised that this list was infinite and decided on the Top 5 qualities that make a trainer truly great.


The primary role of a trainer is to make delegates consciously aware of what they truly know, with regards to a certain topic/subject.


1        Passion


There is nothing in life that anyone can do very well and successfully without passion.


Passion cannot be taught, it is something natural within you, and is exhibited in every fibre of your being, the way you talk, the way you animate, your energy and enthusiasm, and your attitude.


With this passion, it means that the training will always exceed the expectation of the stakeholders of the training, including the organisation as well as the delegates.


At the end of the course great trainers may be physically, mentally and emotionally drained, but also be energised, with delegates leaving buzzing, more confident, not only itching to get back to work to try out their newly learnt skills, but with new ideas of how to implement the new skills in ways they had never of thought of before.


2        Curiosity


“Curiosity is the key to creativity” ~ Akio Morita


Learning is a dynamic thing, the day you stop learning is the day you die, so why should training just be restricted to the topics of the introduction and advanced courses.  If learning can be wherever and whenever you need to or the fancy takes you, then why should training be so rigid?


A great trainer should be curious about:


  • How things work,
  • Why things work? and if they do not work, why?
  • How can I improve thing?,
  • What works?
  • What does not work,  and why?

Curiosity makes you ask questions, to explore deeper, to understand better, thus it opens the mind to a myriad of possibilities of  knowledge, experience and insight.


Encouraging delegates to be curious, is another effective method to inspire them to not only find things out for themselves, but to give them the confidence and self belief that the answer to the question/issue/problem is within them.


It is from this that great trainers really excel, and create not only creative but interactive, innovative and fun training sessions.


3        Focus


Great trainers needs to not only focus on the subject(s) that they train on, but also making sure that the delegates achieve their learning outcomes and objectives


Training is not about showing off how much knowledge you have to give or how clever you are, but on ensuring that delegates met their training goals and outcomes.


Therefore there is an emphasis on focussing on results and delegates.


4        Openness


Most trainers will initially base their course on a pre-defined training plan or lesson plan, which would have been created/devised in a sterile safe environment, where everything works, so that there will be no nasty surprises during the course.


Delegates however will be applying the knowledge in a work environment, where there will be various restrictions, policies and other issues.


Therefore the training environment, is an melting pot for learning, knowledge, solutions and ideas not only for the delegates, but also for the trainer.


The course that I start with is normally very different to the course that I have 3 - 6 months later, as I have incorporated facts, issues and knowledge gained from previous courses, making it more rich and relevant to real life application.


It is OK not to know all the answers, when questions are asked, it is OK to make a mistake, you are human after all, but you should rectify this at the earliest possible chance.


Great trainers creates safe, interactive and fun learning environments for the delegates, that encourages learning between the all the participants of the training session, by enabling any question to be asked, no matter how trivial, stupid, hard or obscure.



5        Flexible and Adaptive


No two training courses will ever be the same, due to the dynamics of the components of the course, so a trainer cannot churn out the same content the same way course after course after course.


Great trainers not only think outside the box, but also on their toes, as unexpected situations will arise with hardware, software and delegates.


I remember I had a training assignment on an army base in Germany, and I was told I would be training Crystal Reports version 8, and so the course and manuals where all in version 8. When I got there they had version 7 installed, but said they could purpose a new version, within an hour.


They purchased a copy of  Crystal Reports 8.5, and we installed all 9 machines over the lunch hour.  Luckily I do not rely on training manuals for courses, but I did have to point out the different interfaces between the versions.


Onsite training, will always test the mettle of any trainer, but great trainers take this in their stride:


This is my list of what makes a great trainer, what do you think?


What would be your top 5 things that makes a Great Trainer?


What is your experience of great trainers?


Alan Bellinger

I think these are probably additions rather than alternatives, but I'd certainly want to include:- 1. Humour - absolutely essential! 2. Vision - to be able to position the skills one's transferring in the widest possible context; and 3. Application - not just the theory but also the practice. Go well Alan"


Hi Alan, When I started this the list was endless, so I decided to concentrate on the top 5 qualities, and then open the discussion up to see what otger think. Humour is a great ice breaker, and helps to set the scene, afterall learning should be fun. Thanks for your input Julia

Ian Sinclair

Hi Julia, You've set yourself a hard task in identifying the top five attributes of a trainer, especially as the rating of an attribute can change depending on the type of training being delivered. I'm thinking here of where a trainer may be involved in a business change project, such as an ERP system implementation, compared to a trainer delivering a short course. Being involved in the former scenario, I would Have to agree with Alan's comments re humour and application. It is absolutely imperative that the trainer has good practical knowledge of the system. The humour often helps to counter the biggest fear of the delegates - the fear of a new system. Regards, Ian


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