A Better Way to Train the Trainers

Many organizations struggle with the concept of “training the trainer.” Many train-the-trainer sessions are merely delivery mechanisms for content, with little time spent on the “how” of delivery.

lingos logoBut the theme that emerged during a roundtable discussion at the LINGOS Global Learning Forum in Little Rock this week is that those sessions need to closely mirror the expected behaviors of trainers post-training. The best organizations focus on how content is delivered and offer engaging learning content for a richer learning experience.

A similar conversation this morning (Oct. 14) with learning leaders from Samaritan’s Purse and Plan International focused on mentoring and coaching, but the gist of the discussion was the same: how can we not only tell people what to do, but also show them how to do it the right way?

Train the Trainer? Not Like This

One attendee asked a question about how to improve their train-the-trainer sessions. When questioned, she said that the company typically brought together the people, shared content with them, and then told them to go back and share the content with their respective populations. If asked, many organizations would admit to doing something very similar.

The ensuing conversation revolved heavily around the method of communication and how the message was shared. I don’t believe a single person in the group mentioned anything about the actual content itself, because that is secondary. Think about it—if the message is poorly constructed and delivered, then it doesn’t matter what the content entails because people will never see it.

Modeling, Peer Reviews and Interactivity

Some members of the LINGOS team talked about how they deliver their own program management training. They rely heavily on exercises, simulations, and modeling the appropriate behaviors. The experience builds over the three-day course with participants steadily improving through peer review exercises and hands-on practice.

How do participants know how to deliver the training effectively? The main way is by watching the facilitators from the initiation of the training leverage exercises, games, and other interactive elements to boost understanding and audience engagement. In addition, the participants have the opportunity to critique the performance of each other, offering advice and learning from the observations of others.

Finally, the participants wrap up the training session by delivering a 45-minute presentation without the use of PowerPoint slides. After several days of observing proper delivery and seeing how to create engaging learning experiences, participants learn to avoid the “crutch” of slide content and instead focus on the learners and generating peer discussions. This is how great instructor-led training is delivered.

This is a nuts-and-bolts kind of discussion, but it’s one that organizations constantly seem to struggle with, no matter the industry.

What challenges does your organization face in terms of training the trainer? How could you improve that experience to get better results?

Ben Eubanks, Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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