Besides being a subject matter expert, there are specific skills a person should have if he or she will be training others in your organization. This is an overview of what you might find in a train the trainer session.

Help trainers to establish confidence.

A trainer’s professional behavior communicates loud and clear to the audience whether he or she is engaged and knows the subject matter. Speaking in front of a group is often one of the worst fears of many.

Confidence is communicated through a trainer’s words, his or her tone and especially through body language. Exuding confidence helps trainers instill a sense of trust.

How do we do that?

  • Always be honest. For instance, if you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t make one up. It is better to say “I don’t know. I will look that up.”
  • Keep your training balanced and free from bias.
  • Support the information with your own facts and experiences. Use the participants as a resource since there will be various levels of experience in your class.
  • Invite questions and discussion from the participants.

As you know, first impressions shape the experience. As a trainer, you must make it a positive environment, one that is conducive to learning.

Develop Effective Communication Strategies

Understand the role of “Ice Breaker” Activities. Short activities referred to as “ice breakers” can help energize your audience and enable them to gain a sense of comfort with each other; help to ensure everyone is engaged.

Defining Rules of Engagement. Rules at the start of your training define how participants will interact with you as well as each other. These are things such as: be a good listener, respect the opinions of others, be honest and open, and it’s okay to disagree but not be disagreeable.

Don’t inundate your audience with rules but do give them a voice in establishing them.

Active Engagement. It doesn’t work well just to talk AT your audience and, quite frankly, you will lose their attention very quickly. Training should be interactive, involving the participant and their experiences. Those that are actively engaged are more likely to retain, recall and remember what you are teaching them.

How do you get your attendees to be actively engaged? Ask questions to open up and foster discussions. Rephrase what someone has said. Allow new perspectives to be introduced.

Active listening includes encouraging, paraphrasing, clarifying, reflecting, summarizing and validating.

Lead the discussion, do not direct it. You want to draw ideas out of your participants, not dominate with your own experiences. You can do this counting to ten to let participants think about an answer or response before jumping in. Use open-ended questions or “think back” questions.

Skilled trainers recognize that participants have a varied experience level and know how to build on their participants’ contributions.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, when it comes to the skills trainers require. It isn’t enough to just be a subject matter expert.

Training the Trainer is part of my expertise. I am the lead instructor at the OSHA Training Institute in Kansas City; I train those that will be doing the safety training in your organization.

Check out my other blog posts on train the trainer.