How to train adults effectively

Corporate trainingUp and down the UK every day, people are training other people: explaining things, demonstrating things, passing on their knowledge and abilities. Sadly, all too often this exercise is a waste of time and a cause of frustration because the trainees are not learning what the trainers hope they are. Most of the time, this is nobody’s fault. Both parties are acting in good faith but the trainer, while probably an expert in the subject, has never been trained in how to train adults effectively and is not going about it in the right way.

One of the myths that surrounds public speaking is that you shouldn’t need to be taught how to do it. It’s just speaking but to more people than usual. How hard can it be? A similar misconception exists around training. You just tell the trainees how it’s done, right? Actually, as I’m quite sure you’re well aware if you’re reading this post, effective teaching or training is (like public speaking) a skill that great practitioners make look easy but, to the uninitiated, is a mighty challenge.

Successful training is a lot about empathy. Before you begin, put yourself in the position of the person or people you’re going to be training. What do they already know about the subject? What will they want to know first? Do you need to be putting the training – or elements of it – in context or will it be obvious to the participants what you’re all doing (and why)? If you think through the course from the point of view of the trainees, this will guide you to explain things clearly and in a logical order.

Be open to the trainees’ questions and be patient! You may be thoroughly familiar with the subject but to the trainees it’s new and perhaps somewhat bewildering. Remember how long it took you to acquire the knowledge or know-how you’re teaching. If you’ve been doing this for years, you can’t expect newbies to pick it up and appreciate the finer points instantly.

Give the trainees time to think about what you’re telling them. Ask them questions to check they’ve understood correctly and are reflecting on it. Beyond that, the trainees need to get hands-on (as is well described in this article, Telling isn’t training). Give them ample opportunities to put what they’re learning into practice.

If you’re a trainer and finding it difficult, a few hours’ training in how to train adults effectively can turn that around. I provide one-to-one coaching, customised to meet your specific requirements and to suit your own style. This isn’t something you have to struggle with on your own: help is at hand! For the support you need to become an inspiring, empowering, fulfilled trainer, contact me and let’s arrange it.