Training small groups - What makes an effective trainer?

An effective trainer will encourage learning and create an environment which facilitates learning.

Whether you are training one-on-one or a small group the first step is to develop a sense of mutual respect and trust. If you can not develop that, then you may as well pack your stuff and go home - because as far as achieving a successful outcome is concerned - it's all over red rover.

Recognise that while the trainer has certain skills and knowledge, so does each participant. If the individual abilities of each person are valued and used in a supportive way, the whole group benefits and the learning experience is enriched for everyone.

This two-way approach respects the contributions that each person in the group can make and acknowledges that everyone has something from which others can learn.

A sense of trust and safety is essential in a training group because learning will not happen easily when people in the group are concerned that things they say and do might be gossiped about, laughed at or judged.

In addition, effective trainers:

Know their subject

Trainers who know their subject well make clearer presentations. They are able to answer effectively participants questions without being vague and evasive.

Can train for transfer

They can show how learning in one situation can be transferred to another.

Are well organised and give clear presentations

This includes having both materials and the session organised so that it is easy to follow and makes sense. Clear presentations and explanations will facilitate learning.

An effective communicator

An effective trainer can communicate clearly and effectively. They will take time to listen to participants and respond effectively. They write clearly, speak clearly and their body language matches their message.

Can motivate learners

Are able to arouse interest right from the start and through a combination of methods, resources and activities maintain that interest throughout the session. Remember, training groups is not just about whiteboards and overhead projectors!

Incidentally, somewhere in this article, I deliberately did something trainers should avoid. Can anyone spot it?

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