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5 Effective Training Skills

Whether classroom-based, e-learning, webinars, or coaching, training is the generic and all-encompassing term to describe any moment when we’re in front of a group of people who want to hear us or when we’re developing content that people want to learn. For most in the training profession, our activities are as varied as the topics we deliver. 

It’s a huge responsibility when you’re asked to develop the knowledge of others. Think about it—people are giving you permission to get into their heads. Whether you’re recent to the training business or consider yourself a seasoned veteran, it’s incumbent upon you to hone your training skills, not just for your professional capacity but also to exceed your audience’s expectations. 

Here are five ways we call strive to improve.

Know and refresh yourself with the fundamentals

One lesson effective trainers discover early is to keep things simple. Doing so allows them to revisit essential fundamental training skills. They will address items such as the following.

• Be aware of participants’ learning expectations. What does each participant want to learn?
• Align those learning expectations with the learning objectives of the course. Are you able to adapt the learning to the needs of the participant?
• Prepare learners to focus on core content that addresses learning objectives.

Be aware of and manage barriers to learning

Effective trainers must be attentive to anything that might interfere with the learning process. For example, you should be ready to handle participants with deep experience, resistance to change, hidden agendas, and of course, fear of failure. It’s your responsibility to reduce and try to eliminate barriers.

Always plan the training and follow the training plan

Think back to a time when you attended a training session that seemed to flow effortlessly. Chances are you also recall some key takeaways from the session. This didn’t occur by happenstance; rather, it’s how the trainer planned the session to unfold, executed their training plan, and was able to adapt the plan to the needs of learners like you.


Furthermore, a training session plan is a road map to make sure that you, the trainer, possess the required resources and allocate your time appropriately.

Get participants to “do” rather than “hear”
Effective trainers recognize that lasting learning gets people to apply the skill rather than simply listening or observing it. Yes, you will need to set up the learning context appropriately so participants understand what they are doing. You should, however, maximize the time to get them to apply their newly found skill by implementing interactive training activities.

For example, let’s say you’re facilitating a session on conflict resolution. Set up the context for them to recognize why this would happen but then quickly transition to having participants role-play handling a real-life conflict.

Continually evaluate and revise the training

You’re the trainer, and it’s your responsibility to ensure participants have the desired skills when they complete the course. It’s also your responsibility to continuously adapt and improve the course to the needs of your participants.

Effective trainers continuously seek to improve upon their training sessions, even if their last one was exceptional. During each session, these trainers quickly adapt to the changing dynamics within the group, focusing on what’s relevant to the group while maintaining direction and the primary training message. Afterwards, they reflect upon the session and identify what went well and where they can improve.

Conducting a training session is overwhelming process. So if you want participants to walk away with a positive experience, then remember to keep it simple and to always revisit these five concepts when designing and facilitating your next course.

Visit our Train-the-Trainer e-learning course to learn more.

© 2017 ATD, Alexandria, VA. All rights reserved.

About the Author
Ajay Pangarkar is is a co-founder of and, and co-author of The Trainer’s Balanced Scorecard: A Complete Resource for Linking Learning to Organizational Strategy. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and a Certified Training and Development Professional (CTDP).
About the Author
Performance management expert Teresa Kirkwood is co-founder of and With Ajay M. Pangarkar, she is co-author of The Trainer’s Balanced Scorecard: A Complete Resource for Linking Learning to Organizational Strategy.
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