I have designed train-the-trainer and presentation skills workshops from scratch. I have facilitated train-the-trainer workshops that others have developed. The following outline dissects what I’ve found to be the most important elements of a train the trainer workshop. Please drop a line in the comments section if you think something is missing.
Why? Having learners begin to think about the session before they come can generate enthusiasm and pique curiosity. I try to keep any pre-work short and simple.
- Learning Style Inventory
This is the form I’ve found to be helpful. Instead of taking up 10 valuable minutes of the actual workshop time having learners fill this out, I like to have them fill this out beforehand. I also am sure to have a few extra copies on the day of the training for those who forget to do this or forget to bring it with them.
- Survey with four key questions
How do you know if your learners are “getting it”? How have you gotten training to “stick”? What is your learning style? What are you expecting to take away from this session?
These questions help me to gauge where my learners are coming into the session. If I can’t email my learners with these questions beforehand, I’ll hang four flipcharts around the room and ask my learners to write their answers to these questions as they enter the room at the beginning of the day.
Train the Trainer Workshop
To get through the following will take at least one full day. If you don’t have a full day to work with your audience, you’ll need to prioritize. It’s a bad idea to try to fit all of the following content into a 1- or 2-hour session.
- Part 1: Welcome/Introductions
Why? It sets the tone and models the atmosphere you’d like to see your learners create when they begin a training session. This is an opportunity to make sure your learners know what they’re in for, to announce where the bathrooms are, to briefly de-brief the pre-work and to generally break the ice.
- Part 2: How training sticks
Why? It’s very important that train-the-trainer participants understand their role in whether or not training will be transferred onto the job… and that they understand that even the best-designed and best-facilitated training will not guarantee transfer to the job. I often refer to this short article by Bob Pike in order to frame this conversation.
- Part 3: Adult learning theory
Why? If trainers want to be able to deliver high quality learning experiences consistently, then they’ll need a foundation in what works and what doesn’t in how adults learn and process information. Here I like to introduce the work of Malcolm Knowles and Jane Vella. This is also where I delve into the idea of learning styles.
Warning: GO DEEP INTO THEORY AT YOUR OWN RISK. While adult learning theory may fascinate people in the learning and development field, most others don’t care. Any adult learning theory needs to go light on the theory and heavy in the application. When I discuss learning styles, I have participants brainstorm how they’d touch on each style in their next presentation. When I talk about Knowles’ concept of relevance, I insist that participants give me an elevator speech about why their audience should care about their topic.
- Part 4: Instructional Design Basics
Why? This is actually an optional section if your train-the-trainer course is designed to teach others how to facilitate a curriculum that’s already been developed. But if your train-the-trainer audience is made up for people who are responsible for creating and delivering presentations, then instructional design basics is a must-have element.
- Part 5: Practice with Feedback
Why? This is where the rubber meets the road. Are the trainers that you’re training actually any good? You won’t know until you challenge them with getting in front of an audience and practicing their delivery. Providing structured, specific feedback is key to making this effective. Often participants (and some train-the-trainer facilitators) are hesitant to provide feedback that could be construed as critical. Having a feedback form that identifies specifically what successful facilitation looks like could help mitigate this factor.
- Training Evaluation
I don’t spend too much time on this particular section as post-training feedback forms offer little value and deeper training effectiveness is often more the responsibility of a manager than a trainer. If trainers will be responsible for training evaluation, training in this area would require an additional, significant chunk of time.
- Additional Content Review
Sometimes it helps if the trainer knows a little more about the topic he/she will be facilitating, especially if it’s a technical subject or a new piece of software. Training on sensitive subjects such as diversity will also benefit from a facilitator with a deeper understanding of the complexities of the issue.
Don’t forget to leave your new and aspiring trainers with tools to help them remember this learning experience. The following items can help significantly with transfer of skills to the job:
- Job aids such as templates, lesson plans or training design checklists
- Foundational resources such as books, magazines, trade journals or professional associations
- Just-in-time resources such as your email address or quick reference materials like this blog
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