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Aug 06

what makes a great trainer - tell a story

Published by Scott Fraser

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Have you ever asked this question or been asked?  As you can imagine, I have on many occasions, and my answer is always the same: Many attributes are used in tandem to become “great”, but for me, there is one major stand out factor:

I remember as a young man being trained in my early days in the RAF by quite a few instructors who were responsible for training my course mates and me with becoming operationally competent in our trade; no small task!  In those days, the lessons were predominantly based on the old acetate OHP slides and I distinctly remember that sinking feeling when the instructor would walk in with bundles of slides; in those days we got “Death by OHP” instead of the modern PowerPoint version we’ve all experienced these days.  I remember being fascinated with the fact that all of the Corporals that were training us had “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt” etc and would at every opportunity ask for them to tell us a story or experience related to the very dry facts, figures, phrases and paragraphs we all had to learn.  Unsurprisingly, we would not only get a fascinating and inspiring story/experience but more importantly, something memorable that helped us link the dry parts we had to remember to pass our exams and become competent in our jobs.  So how does that relate to you delivering training?  Well, I want you to think of the most important part of my story above which is the fact that we were told a story/experience that was fascinating, inspiring and memorable.  This for me is the part that makes the trainer “great” as it’s highly engaging and always reminds me of one of my favourite parts of junior school – Storytime!  So here are my tips for you to do the same when you deliver training:

Share your experiences – The chances are that you are highly qualified and skilled in the field that you are delivering training on, so tell your audience all about the things that gave you the experience!  Don’t stand telling them just facts and figures and expect them to learn when you aren’t going to try and inspire, motivate and engage; facts and figures are more likely to get retained if you link them with a memorable experience/story.  Also, always encourage questions from your audience when sharing to encourage further motivation and engagement.

It’s not just about you – Get your audience to share their experiences and stories as you might not be the only person that can bring something memorable to the table.  Asking members of your audience to contribute promotes discussion, further questions and multiple avenues of consolidating learning. Remember that the very best training sessions are facilitated with group engagement, not those sessions where someone stands and “broadcasts” to you in a “Death by” type scenario.

The bonus of both of the above is that by “Throwing the Monkey” you are helping learning take place by engaging and inspiring in a manner that if you suffer from nerves, you will have so much more time to think and keep your composure as all eyes aren’t permanently on you!

Scott Fraser is a Master Trainer at Target Training and delivers our PTT Train the Trainer courses and our Advanced PTT Train the Trainer courses.  You can read more about him here.

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