What makes a good trainer?

& how to be better...

At the moment I’m spending an average of one day each week delivering training.

Thankfully, I also get to go on some training too – as a learner!

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Kakso (adapted)

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/Kakso (adapted)

So what makes a good trainer?…

Before I start I want to say that my own training technique is very much a work in progress!

So the comments here are the things I value in other trainers, NOT the ones I think I’ve achieved myself. Still working on that…

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In this first post on training, I’ll be looking at the things I admire in the person doing the training. Them as a person – not their technique. That’ll come in a later post.

The likeable trainer…

OK, so here goes – what are the things that make a trainer a person we can listen to?

If we know these things, we can think about how we can embrace these for ourselves when we’re the one at the front!

  • Humanity – when I’m listening to someone talk, I want them to be someone who’s human. Not human as in “not an alien” – but human as in someone I can relate to. I like it when I know a little bit about them. Do they have children? Hobbies? I’m looking for something I can relate to. Something normal. Sharing this stuff with an audience has a way of levelling things – I like that.
  • Humility – being at the front of the room and training others is a privilege and a responsibility. When I get the impression that a trainer is impressed with themselves or, worse still, has a superior attitude, I switch off. I want someone who is still learning and isn’t afraid to admit it. Someone who scores the odd own goal – like me – and talks about it. This levels things even more!
  • Humour – there are few things more endearing, for me at least, than someone who can laugh at themselves. I learn as much from someone telling what didn’t work for them or what they got wrong, than when they lay out the right way to do things. If they look a bit daft and share that in training, I’m sold. Imperfection, I can do!

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  • Honesty – when someone is waffling, we can tell, right? So I love it when someone asks a question in training and the trainer says, “I don’t know,” or “I think it’s this… but I’m not sure.” All this just seems refreshingly real to me and makes me more open to what else they have to say.
  • Honouring – It’s also great when they can step down off the pedestal and draw on the expertise of other people in the room. Good training draws on other knowledge in the room. This shows respect for colleagues and overtly says, “I don’t know it all.” Or, “I don’t have all the answers.” I also like it when trainers give credit where it’s due – to other people, authors, colleagues, people who’ve trained them, etc.

I reckon we learn most of what we need to know about training from the people who’ve trained us. Both the good stuff and the bad stuff.

If I don’t like it when I’m being trained, then it’s likely others won’t like it from me, when it’s my turn to stand at the front.

Final word…

Maybe one way of summarising all this is to say that good trainers tend to be secure enough to be themselves? They don’t come across like it’s an act or a role they’re playing in order to impress us.

That said, I’ve been very sobered and learned an awful lot from watching video footage of my own training or listening to my recorded voice. One thing is absolutely certain – I can improve what I do when I’m training others. A lot!

How about you?

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What do you think?…

  • What characteristics do you like in a trainer? What drives you nuts?
  • Please let me know your thoughts…   Leave a comment below or click here.

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© Jonny Matthew 2016

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  • Thank you again Jonny for a stimulating piece about the role of the trainer. It helped me to reflect upon my own training delivery & what I might do to improve – continuous improvement is my motto & your article was a timely reminder.

    • jonnymatthew

      Thanks Alex, glad it helped! I’m so aware of the need to stay self-critical, as you say. Onward and upward to better training, better practice and better outcomes for kids. Go for it, man! :0)