One of the biggest mistakes I see bad trainers make is that they write and deliver the training on what they perceive the audience will need rather than what they actually need; this then makes the training all about them and not the audience.  Fantastic trainers do it completely differently...

One of the key attributes every fantastic trainer uses is that they understand their audience and can write, deliver and then even adapt dynamically when they need to.  To fully address what the audience needs, there are some crucial steps I’ll always take in the preparation and then delivery which I’ll share with you:

1. Ask the right questions before you even start! – Most of us have had a time where we’ve started something only to be told to stop or make massive changes.  Remember how demotivating this feels so why start something before you have all the facts?  Whenever I’m tasked to do a training project, I will ask some critical questions like, “What’s the real training need and what’s driven the requirement?” I’ll always want to see some solid evidence of why we need to train rather than make something on the whim of someone saying, “We need training on that” as too often this ends badly.

2. What level of ability will your audience be? – I’ll always ascertain who will be attending the training to ensure its pitched at the right level; after all, you aren’t going to try and train someone who’s got good advanced skills all of the foundation stuff; well I hope not anyway?

3. Don’t be frightened to adapt – It’s very easy to get “scripted” and caught up in what you’ve prepared, even when it seems, or you know it’s not going right.  The easiest thing is to carry on with what you’ve got, but then it ends up disengaging, ultimately being a huge waste of everyone’s time.  If you feel what you’ve planned isn’t working, then go with a plan B.  Ask your audience questions like “What have you experienced?” and “What would you do/like to see?” and get them to share examples/knowledge/ experiences.  Don’t forget you’re human and by doing this, you’ll be far more appreciated and will get a far better result than if you just pressed on with what’s not working. If you are delivering your training properly by engaging your audience, these should be the type of questions that you’ll be asking naturally anyhow so adapting when you need to should be quite natural.

Understanding your audience is just one of the key attributes of many that every fantastic trainer uses but such a crucial one; omit it at yours and your audiences’ peril!

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.