Cast your mind back to when you last sat on a training course.

What can you remember about it?  The key things that stand out for you?

Typically, things we remember are:

  • People we met – it may be someone who inspired us, or someone who liked the sound of their own voice and took all the attention
  • The room and facilities – the room was really cold, the coffee was awful
  • The Trainer – did they engage you? Or, did you just sit back for the ride?

It’s essential that you build a bond with your learners as soon as possible. 

This makes your ‘Welcome’ at the beginning of the session so important.  It can set the scene and the success of your course. 

Make sure you set the scene by:

  • Telling them your name
  • Providing an opportunity for them to introduce themselves with any information that may be relevant for you to know relating to the course, such as “Have you had this training in the past?”   Learners will engage and bond with you more effectively when you use their names.  You could use name cards to remind you. 
  • Break times and finish times are important to your learners
  • Mobile phones – silent/vibrate.  If they must take a call then ask them to do so outside the room.
  • Inform them of any other relevant information e.g. Fire evacuation, location of the loos.

Your Role as a Trainer

In general, I prefer to think of my role as being a facilitator of learning rather than trainer.  My reason for this is with the Facilitator hat you give yourself subconscious permission to plant a seed to see where your learners take it. 

You don’t have to be the one speaking and providing information all the time. 

When you’ve given your group an activity or discussion point:

  1. Stand back
  2. Watch and Listen
  3. Are your learners discussing and learning from each other?

If YES:  Pat yourself on the back..   it’s working.

If NO and they’re discussing what was on TV last night (it happens) cut it short and move on. 

Reflect on it later (not during the training as this can be distracting and self-destructive) 

Why didn’t it work?  Was it personalities in the group? The task they were given?  Too hard/too easy?  Not fun?

Have a think and try a different tact next time.

Delivering training is a never-ending learning process.  Allowing yourself the space and time to reflect on the successes is so important to YOU

Embrace those eureka moments and make a note of them somewhere so you can look back on them.

Where do you need to improve?

How are you going to do that?  Do you have a critical friend or another trainer you can have a chat with and share experiences.

Empowering learners to understand through activities and discussion can help to re-enforce learning points. 

Giving time for the group to listen and engage with each other is so interesting.  With experience you can pick up those with more understanding, those who are struggling, shy and need encouragement etcetera.

In some industries it may be the first time that a learner been given the chance to voice their opinion or how much they understand.  They may not have been able to express themselves in their usual workplace arena.  Through discussion we can discover hidden skills that are transferable to other parts of the business, or unusual things that people know or do.  That may build bonds within the group to create or improve relationships.

Work colleagues can see and hear a different side and appreciate each other more.

Be aware that when you ask an open question to your group, there may be silent moments where learners are thinking things through …..

Don’t allow the silence to force you to fill those gaps.  They can be a good thing.  A natural pause and moment for reflection, for you as well as your learners.

Course Development

When developing your course think about your audience:

  • What is it that the learner needs to be able to do or understand?
  • How will you gauge their existing level of knowledge and assess what they have learned throughout and by the end of the course?  What tools will you use so they know how to apply the knowledge or skills in their job role?

 [more on this in further information]

  • Are there any language barriers? Dyslexia? Or other conditions where a learner may require additional support? Do you know in advance so that you can prepare? [see further information]

An important part of your planning is to appreciate that we all learn differently.  Cover all bases and try as far as possible to plan to engage your group with a mixture of learning styles.

The VAK Learning styles are:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinaesthetic

To get an understanding of learning styles there’s a link below to a Free online questionnaire on the Personality Max website.  (I’m not associated with this business, it’s a Google search you may find useful) 

Take a look and get an understanding of your learning style:

Learning Styles Questionnaire

Another good resource is from Mindtools and here’s the link to more on VAK Learning styles.

This article is focussing on ‘How to Make Your Training Work’.  I’m sure you can appreciate there are many areas to consider when developing and delivering training.

Why not Connect to view more posts

“Enjoy your journey into training


Further Information

Gauging knowledge

What is your learner’s level of knowledge as they enter the room?

Try a Quick quiz at the beginning.

Experiment and keep notes on what you see works best for you.  Learners could do this on their own or in groups. 

If there are any workers with additional support needs, it may be better to work in groups, or use  verbal interaction rather than written.

How will you assess them throughout the learning process?

Ask open questions to promote discussion and ideas.  This keeps your learners interested and you can get an idea whether the information you give is being understood .

Ask directed questions.  This can be useful when you’re aware someone in the group is experienced in the specific area being discussed. 

You can also use directed questioning when you feel someone is ‘switching off’.  If they know they may be asked a question you are more likely to retain their attention.

If this is the case, can you adapt your delivery.  You may not be engaging them in their learning style.

A mini assessment at the end of a section of learning.  Maybe 3 questions that could be done written or verbally.  Written can be recorded and looked back on later.  Verbal allows the whole group to hear and re-enforce learning.  You can also clarify any points that have been misunderstood.

This is referred to as formative assessment and is a good way of keeping your training on track and enabling learners to check their understanding and ask questions.

How do you make sure they’ve met the learning outcomes you said they need?

Your choice of end assessment (summative assessment) depends on your learning outcomes. 

Where training is Knowledge based, decide whether you need them to achieve a Pass mark to demonstrate their level of understanding. 

This is essential where failure to apply learning is safety critical e.g. administering medications.

Methods of assessment include:

  • multiple choice
  • Fill in the blanks / which two are correct etc., or
  • More in depth written paper

The type of end assessment you use and the level of difficulty, will depend on how essential it is for them to ‘get it right’ in practice.  Another factor is the duration of the course whether this is a short one day course, five days or a qualification.

Are learners required to understand and demonstrate practical skills? 

This will require supervision and monitoring following training until workers gain the ability to work safely and to the required standards on their own.

For example:

  • Production line work
  • Working with dangerous machinery
  • Erecting scaffolding

But:  Remember that knowledge learned is not observable.  In recognising this, you may choose to carry out a written or verbal assessment to ensure they have retained and understood the knowledge aspects.

Additional Support

One thing to bear in mind here is GDPR.  The learner may not have disclosed, or you may not have been informed as this is personal information. 

However, with experience you may be able to spot when a learner is struggling.  I’ve found that by giving an opportunity in your course Welcome to say that if anyone would like to come and have a chat in the break if they would like any support, some people will come forward.  On occasion a learner has offered up this information prior to the start of the course by asking “Could I have a quick word”.  Always make time for this as they request it if possible.  It has taken a lot of bravery for them to trust you with this information. 

As a Trainer we have a duty to ensure that training is accessible to all regardless of any barriers to learning, such as disability or language barriers. 

This is a whole new area for discussion, and I won’t be covering it fully within the information here.

However, reasonable adjustments may include:

  • Additional time for assessment
  • A scribe
  • Use of a multi-lingual dictionary
  • A signer for those with hearing impairment
  • Learning and assessment materials printed on a specified colour of paper or font/size

Where training is accredited the policies and procedures of the awarding organisation must be adhered to.  Failure to do so would result in malpractice and likely withdrawal of any certification.

Produced by Jayne Hayward

May 2020


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