Train the trainer course – what to look for?

17 things to looks for in a Train the Trainer course…

Search the web for a train the trainer course and you are provided with a long list of websites which all appear to meet your needs – but do they? What is a train the trainer course? are they all the same and will they meet your needs?

What is Train the Trainer?

Lets first look at what a trainer is. Today in 2010 a trainer is a little different from those 10-20 years ago, indeed even the language has changed.

There are in essence 4 types of ‘trainer’ :

  1. The full time ‘all skills’ trainer within a company or organisation
  2. The part time trainer who has another role – often a “Subject Matter Expert” (SME) or “Subject matter Resource” (SMR)
  3. The “training Officer” or “Learning and Development Adviser” a person that supports training (learning & development) in an organisation
  4. The “Training Manager” or “Learning and Development Manager” who manages the function and provides strategic input and advice to the organisation.

(note in many organisations a wide range of terms is used, and indeed in the last 5-10 years the term “training” has been dropped in favour of “learning and Development” as a sign of the focus shifting from the organisation driving the requirements to the individual taking increased responsibility. In reality that does not often happen but that is the subject of another article!)

For each of these “trainer” roles different training and skills are required.

For the first two groups, a short course in design and delivery is often all that is required. The “Training officer” role requires a more rounded  skills set beyond basic analysis and delivery. And finally the manager has considerably different needs.

Just to add some confusion there is a new type of “trainer” and this one is called the “Instructional Designer”. This is a skill which has always been required in those that deliver training, however increasingly organisations are using e-learning and this is where a resource is needed that understand the basics of learning psychology to be able top construct the content for a technical specialist to fully configure.

Which of these 5 are you looking to develop? Knowing this can save a lot of unnecessary expense and save a lot of time.

What skills are needed in a trainer?

The ability to look at a task, break it down into manageable chunks and then design a range of ways of being able to communicate and test that knowledge and ability in others.

As the person physically delivering “face to face” a wide range of skills is required from rapport building, asking questions and interesting and engaging delivery.

The skills needed to run training day after day are different from running occasional sessions. In addition if your ‘experts’ are running training for clients it needs not only to be factually accurate, but it needs to engage people so that they listen and learn. There is nothing worse than have an expert in-front of you, doing their thing and you are bored out of your skill as they have the communication skills of a walnut.

If the course/ session is only 1 Hr long we can all suffer poor style (but we shouldn’t) – longer than that and style is just as important as content.

So once you have decided on the content you need then you need to find a provider:

What to look for in a short Train the trainer course:

  1. A small number of participants (less numbers = more interaction)
  2. Between 3 & 5 days ( anything less and experience cannot be built)
  3. Provides participants the chance to practice at least 4 times
  4. Includes an assessment of performance which is undertaken at the end (and that some people do not pass!)
  5. Uses accelerated learning or “brain friendly” techniques (i.e. takes account of weel researched learning psychology)
  6. Flexibility in delivery approach (we don’t want ‘robot’ trainers)
  7. Something that can be built on if and when the role develops
  8. Included one to one skills training and group work
  9. What is included in the price e.g. manuals, web material, certification costs, ongoing costs?
  10. Provides support beyond the training event for free (reasonable support)
  11. Check that the trainers are aware of different learners needs (learning styles, pace etc) and that the course accommodates these
  12. Are they able to provide testimonials from previous participants?
  13. Is the course accredited by relevant bodies (if relevant)
  14. Check that the trainer is themselves qualified
  15. That the trainer undertakes continued development
  16. That the course does not include any debunked theories ( eg Myths/ miss-quotes: Mehrabian, Yale/ Harvard goal setting, “Learning Pyramid”, only use 10% of our brain, practice makes perfect, left brain/ right brain)
  17. Have a money back guarantee (if a public programme)

In the UK there are a large number of “train the Trainer” courses including:

CTP (Certificate in Training Practice – from various suppliers with varying content and accreditation including the CIPD) TMPA, TAP, ELF PTTLS and many others. In a series to follow in 2010 we will explore some of these courses in more detail.


Management and Leadership development are importent to you and of course to the team here at RapidBI. We hope you find this information valuable, if you do please tweet or facebook like this page. Thanks

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About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.

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