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Key Skills for a trainer


The subject is two fold I'm organising a development plan for a new person joining the team and also writing my final project report for the CTP and with both areas I need to consider the key skills a trainer needs in the training room. I have my own thoughts on what is needed but am interested in what other people think are the key skills.

Thoughts, comments, debate welcome


Stuart Farmer

12 Responses

  1. Trainer Skills
    Hi Stuart,

    I have recently got the trainers that work with me to do a skills set assessment which we are using to identify areas of development for their PDP’s.
    Am happy to send it on to you if you would like it?



  2. Trainer skills
    Hi Stuart, interesting question!

    Good trainers have these attributes hard-wired into their muscle memory:

    1. They know what the learning outcomes are that they want the learners to achieve for every sentence, phrase, exercise, session and period of learning.

    2. They are able to set sensory based indicators which tell them when the learners are achieving the planned learning outcomes, or not.

    3. They constantly focus on the learners, not needing to think about the content which they could deliver in their sleep and so they are flexible with the programme in order to achieve consistent outcomes for the learners.

    4. They adopt a position with their learners of guide and facilitator of learning and not the fountain of all knowledge and request the learners to accept an equal responsibility for their own learning.

    5. They enable the learners to generate self-motivation for the learning and provide clear input explaining the subject being covered and how to apply it.

    6. They have the ability to deliver training and be aware of their own performance tracking the responses from the learners and then assessing these responses in order to generate improvements to future sessions.



  3. Trainer Skills
    Here is my list (for the training room and beyond).

    Role skills:

    Presentation – structuring and communicating ideas, using visual and other aids

    Facilitation – managing activities, eliciting contributions and learning

    One-to-one – coaching, counselling, mentoring, advising, assessing

    Consultancy – investigating, diagnosing, advising, evaluating, partnering

    Trouble-shooter – insightful, innovative, dogged, a skilful rebel

    Design – designing programmes, materials, activities, opportunities, e-literate

    Personal skills & qualities:

    Communication – listening, questioning, explaining, giving feedback

    Interpersonal – building relationships, sensitivity, handling conflict

    Assertiveness – confidence, challenging and supporting, negotiating

    Flexibility – responsive, creative, adaptable, manage change

    Expertise – knowledgeable, experienced, insightful, up to date

    Organisational skills:

    Team working – egalitarian, supportive, dependable, collaborative

    Self-management – managing stress, time and work, self starting, learning

    Influencing – instigating and driving change, transfering learning into performance, winning support

    Strategic – co-ordinating, planning, leadership, linking, thinking

    Problem solving – getting things done, working with operational difficulties

    Business – financial, marketing, customer care, managing info.


  4. Key Skills
    As well as the below mentioned list I would also add:

    sense of humour – being able to enjoy a good joke (or in my case a bad one) with delegates often helps overcome nervousness

    humility – knowing your not perfect and admitting to development areas

    multiple personalities – knowing which ‘personality’ to use and when with different participants to ensure they all go away having learnt (at least) one thing.

    Andrew Miller

  5. Sorry Nick
    A good trainer perhaps wouldn’t use phrases such as “have these attributes hard-wired into their muscle memory” 😉

    An ability to empathise as well as being excellent at conveying the message in the correct language for the audience.

    Soz Nick – from your previous postings I suspect you are an excellent trainer.

  6. Use of Language by trainers

    Hi James, I agree with you that the language we use as trainers when training needs to be appropriate for the audience.

    I deemed the language used in my description was appropriate for the typical population of the training zone based on the many contributions I have read.

    I am sorry if you had any difficulty with it.

    In case there is any confusion what I meant to say was that a good trainer will know the content they are delivering without having to consciously think about it.

    This is called unconscious competence and that is what I would describe as being hard-wired into the muscle memory.

    An example might be how some people describe the experience they have when they drive to work on the same route every day and on somedays they arrive and park their car and cannot really remember, consciously, how they got there.

    I think that is cleaner than the first attempt? Thanks for the prompt.

    As for being a good trainer I always leave that to the people who I work with and for at least one guy I got it right and there was no mention of hard wiring or muscle memory:
    Quote from a client “Having sat through so many session at XYX company which have been mind-numbingly boring / wholly irrelevant and utterly incomprehensible (and often all three) today’s’ training was a pleasant change and I enjoyed it Nick. You focused on us, were jargon free and made us think about the issues for ourselves. Excellent morning well spent”.


  7. Trainer Behavioural Traits
    Using our behavioural questionnaire we’ve developed a “job template” that we use to compare an individual against a position to determine how suitable they are for a role. For a trainer the traits are as follows;

    Essential (The more the better)

    Public Speaking

    Desirable (Too little of these traits hinder performance)

    Pressure Tolerance
    Takes Initiative
    Wants Challenge
    Manages Stress Well
    Tolerance Of Structure

    Traits to Avoid (too much of these traits are counter productive)

    Forceful Enforcing

    Stuart, let me know if you want a copy of the report – it gives more info on how it all fits together.

  8. Andrew
    Hi andrew,

    Thanks for offering the info. I can’t seem to find your email address.

    Would you mind if I used it as a reference in my project report?

  9. Questioning
    Willingness to challenge the status quo and ask difficult questions. Some call it rebelliousness.

  10. Mega chameleon
    To be a successful trainer: in word (or three or four) you need to be a passionate, mega energetic, arrogant, enertaining, iron-willed and imaginative chameleon. How does that sound?


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