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So you want to be a trainer?

When I think back to how I first got into training, I have to admit I never realised it was as tough as it is and I really did think that anyone with knowledge could train.  I have since found this to be complete nonsense.  People often think trainers have an easy job, after all they know the subject and all they have to do is stand there and show everyone else but there is so much more to it than that.  It is hard work and to be effective you need to ensure that you are top of your game.  

If you don't know what the latest developments, techniques and tools there are, how are you going to continue to be an effective trainer?  If you don't understand how people react and behave, how can you empathise and adjust your training appropriately? If you never strive to improve because you feel there isn't any need, then how do you know you are successful? 

In short you don't!  Just because you deliver a course does not mean that you've delivered it! Training is about people, it's not just about the subject, it's about growth and development, change and behaviour, evaluation and analysis. 

When interviewing potential candidates for trainers I have built up a list of key competencies that have been successful in appointing excellent trainers.  You don't have to have all the core skills to be a trainer as you can build them with experience but the base ones you need to have are: 

  • Personable - even the best trainers in the world will not be liked by everyone but as a trainer you are often at the forefront of change.  You are the key to new experiences and learning, if you cannot be approached then you cannot teach in a manner where people will listen to you.
  • Change & Flexibility - The willingness to learn, the willingness to impart knowledge and embrace the change that is happening.  Development and training is all about change, if you cannot accept change then how are you supposed to assist others in this process?
  • Self Awareness & Empathy - understanding that people learn differently and understanding what each person is going through enables you to adjust your teaching style to the way that people learn.  As people learn differently and their emotions often overtake their rationale, basically means that you need to be able to empathise with people to get the best from them.  Self Awareness means that you need to be sensitive but aware to it.

  • Positivity - training is often working in environments where people are forced to train, and there are times where it is because of a requirement that has to be done because of change.  Generally people find change difficult and it can lead to negativity.  A positive stint on any situation reinforces the benefits and not the requirements for the training.
  • Presentation & Creativity - the ability to be able to talk in a sensitive and uncomplex way, without being demeaning.  The ability to create meaningful and interesting visual aids that will engage the people you are training.  To be able to make the most boring subject seem interesting is very much down to presentation and how creative you are with how you relay that information

  • Patience - probably one of the most important traits a trainer can have as people learn differently.  You may be lucky to only have to train one person but when you have a group of people, they will all learn at a different pace.  There are some people that need to understand things several times before it finally sinks in that means that your whole structure could be thrown out.  Is keeping to your times more important than ensuring everyone benefits from what you are doing? No of course not, however being able to relay the same message several different ways is more beneficial than just repeating yourself.  It means you don't sound impatient and you are also testing out the different styles that someone learns by.
  • Sense of Humour - probably the second most important trait, there are days when everything can go wrong, nothing works, your class is unresponsive and your subject is death by powerpoint.  A sense of humour will always get you through and on the plus side your classes become more entertaining. 

So do you think you have the skills to become a trainer? Training is a passion and in some respects its a natural path. I find the best trainers are the ones that have that passion naturally, if you force it, training becomes a chore and who wants to do a job that is a chore? More importantly who will listen and learn when it is.