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Trainer’s Tip: Selecting an External Trainer


Selecting an external trainer can be hard; even if you've had a recommendation, can you be sure they will deliver for your organisation? Graham O'Connel has some advice.

You should have criteria for selecting the trainer/provider. For example, if you want to do a high level CPD event for seasoned project managers then you will need someone well qualified, with both breadth and depth of experience, who may have experience in your sector, and who has good credentials as a trainer. If you want a quick intro to the topic for junior managers who contribute to occasional projects, then your criteria can be less stringent. Applying these criteria should help weed out some unsuitable candidates, but it does not guarantee that those who get through can actually cut the mustard.

Ideally get a recommendation from someone your trust and who used the person in a similar capacity (some trainers are great for certain types of work but may be less suitable for others). You can check references but people are unlikely to offer up a referee who is going to criticise them.

You should meet with them and you can see samples of their materials. Good materials do not equal good trainer, but it does not harm to make sure they fit your needs. Discussing the the design of an event is usually the most revealing - you'll get a good steer about their approach and the rationale behind it. A good design is half the battle. You should also make sure you give them a clear and helpful briefing about the event, why it arose, any hidden agendas, about the group and about what success should look like. Some failures are not about poor trainers but poor client conception and briefing.

Finally, get them to run a short session or a pilot before committing to more. Make sure the key presentational and facilitational skills are in place. You can be a bit more forgiving if they don't know all your internal jargon, for example, but if those times of things emerge, at least you can give them some help before they do any more work for you.

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Choosing external trainers

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