Whether we are developing a large curriculum or delivering a single workshop, our clients often ask us how to train the trainer. The “trainer” is oftentimes not a trainer at all, but a subject matter expert with extensive knowledge in their field.

While having an “expert” be the trainer sounds great, these individuals may be new to facilitation—and new to streamlining their content so learners get what they really need to know.

Often, their technical knowledge is more advanced than what learners are capable of mastering in a few short sessions. That’s where having some instructional design and facilitation experience comes in handy.

When we are not delivering Train the Trainer sessions for our clients, we host internal sessions to sharpen our own skills and help new team members learn best practices for facilitation. I had the opportunity to attend our Make it Memorable workshop last summer, and the concepts I learned have greatly improved my presentation skills.

Start With Honest Self Assessment

Both our standard Make it Memorable workshop and custom Train The Trainer workshops usually start with a self assessment. We ask learners to individually write down the top three challenges they need to overcome to improve their facilitation skills. After one minute, learners pair up and compare lists. Then pairs share with the large group.

We also get the learners out of their seats and moving early by having them stand on a “human plot line” to assess their past facilitation experience and current comfort level.

7 Truths about remembering

We teach a “7 Truths” model to show how people best retain information. It’s not that only seven truths about remembering exist, but well… the number seven is part of the point. Ever wonder why phone numbers have seven digits? Research conducted in the 1950’s by cognitive psychologist showed that seven—plus or minus two—is the maximum number of “things” we can remember at any one time.

Our seven truths about remembering PDF is a tool we use to quickly gain insight into how the brain works. By teaching these truths in a Trainer the Trainer session, you are enabling your own trainers. They’ll be able to link the new to the familiar and see the importance of eliminating unnecessary content.

Demonstrate First, then Let them Practice

Throughout a train the trainer session, we carefully space the learning out into manageable chunks and break the workshop up into a smaller activities.

A short lecture, followed by a breakout session, followed by a chance for learners to practice, helps them learn the content more effectively and demonstrates some best practices for how they can run their own sessions in the future.

So while the workshop starts with us demonstrating strong facilitation skills, it ends with learners delivering their own short training experience to their peers. We film the presentation and give it to learners after the session, along with some helpful feedback.

This allows learners to apply what they learned to an actual topic they will be teaching. It also allows them to receive structured feedback so they can continue to refine their skills going forward.

Set an Action plan and follow up

We talk all the time about the need to reinforce training, and these train the trainer sessions are no different. We have participants create an action plan for how they will apply what they learned. They are asked to review the plan within 24 hours, and again in 7 days. Finally, participants are encouraged to schedule a meeting with their manager to discuss how they will implement the action plan within the next 30 days.

You can download our “7 Truths About Remembering” PDF below: