Weíve all read the usual advice about being a good trainer, but there are some key characteristics that arenít so obvious, which can make you a great trainer. Here are 5 to incorporate into your daily training sessions:
1. The Empowerment Gene: Aim to empower people with your knowledge:
One of the best feelings Iíve experienced is watching a group of trainees walk into my training room with that wary, almost fearful, look which says they donít know what is going to be expected of them. And, at the end of the training session walk out ten feet tall and fired up because they suddenly have taken on board the knowledge that is going to make their job easier, better understood and more enjoyable. Use your knowledge to empower!
2. Continuous Improvement of your Training skills:
What many people donít realize is that if you can train one thing well, you can train any product well, regardless of industry. Everything is just a product and you are selling it, whether it be a new IT application or a First Aid course. Doesnít matter what you are training Ėitís still a product. All great trainers can train any content as long as they have good training skills. So get your basics in place and then continuously improve on them.
What are the basics? Know your content, research it in more depth so you never get fazed by a question, provide anecdotes from your own experience or from others in the industry, and breathe enthusiastic humour and fire into your delivery for that magic combination!
3. Always learn your content at several levels and donít get arrogant about the delivery:
Iíve seen good trainers go bad overnight when they started to get arrogant about the content. There is nothing that turns a trainee off from learning faster than a trainer who uses their knowledge of the content in a supercilious manner, because they know it and the trainees donít.
Your job as a trainer is to take complex information and make it easy, understandable and of benefit to the trainee, without being patronising. If it was easy to begin with, the trainees wouldnít need a trainer. If you know your content so well that you find it boring, go and find something else to teach.
4. Have a nice voice: I know, it sounds silly, butÖ..
Itís so important to have a clear voice that is pleasant on the ear, if you are going to be a great trainer and build rapport with your trainees. So can that late night at the pub if youíre training the next day!
Someone once said to me that the most important thing he looked for when choosing a potential wife was the sound of her voice because he was going to have to listen to it every day for 30 or so years. If more women knew this, Iím sure voice lessons would be in greater demand!
Believe it or not, itís hard to build rapport with a group if you have a scratchy or irritating voice. They will feel uncomfortable and fidget and you will lose the power to capture their interest in what you are training. You want to be a great trainer? Get a few voice lessons to improve the resonance and tone of your voice.
5. Be flexible Ėlet them have that coffee Ėthey are adults!
Some trainers can be good at the delivery but behave in such a dogmatic, rules-driven manner that they get a few sycophantic trainees singing their praises while the rest of the group switch off and talk about them behind their back.
Being flexible is part of the true knowledge-sharing trainerís nature. While travelling around the country training many years ago I was initially surprised to see wives turn up in place of their husbands on my training sessions, as well as local residents who had heard there was a spare seat and wanted to learn what I was training. The reality is, if there is a free space and a local wants to use that Ėwhy say no?
This is how communities (particularly rural) share resources. If itís a local arrangement, donít ask them to leave, let it happen, just go with it!
Similarly, telling an adult not to take a cup of coffee into a training room is ridiculous. Yes, there are the occasionally spillages (I think Iíve had one in 20 years that was by no means disastrous!) Your trainees are adults and will generally behave with care, but if the occasional keyboard takes a hit, get over it. The IT department is always looking for an excuse to upgrade its hardware!
Master these 5 less overt skills and you will rise to the 5% trainer group who can pretty much command their own salary.