Train the Trainer Tips: 7 Truths About Remembering (Free Download)

Whether we are developing a large curriculum or delivering a single workshop, our clients often need us 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.

Our Manager of Instructional Design, Jennifer Bertram, shared four tips for Training The Trainer in a 2011 blog post, and they are a great place to start. Short, simple, to the point… just like the training you will (hopefully) be teaching trainers how to deliver.

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 pick up 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 the custom Train The Trainer workshops we create for our clients 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 and learner retention 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 7 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 7, plus or minus 2, is the maximum number of “things” we can remember at any one time.

Our seven truths about remembering are tools we use to quickly gain insight into how the brain works when facilitating and designing instructional content.  By teaching these truths in a Trainer the Trainer session, you are enabling learners to do things like linking the new to the familiar, eliminating unnecessary content and more.

You can download a complete guide to our 7 truths by filling out the form below.

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 we start the day by “going first” and demonstrating strong facilitation skills, the workshop ends with learners delivering a 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 the things they learned to an actual topic they will be teaching in the near future, and 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.

  • rick

    Steven, you might want to rethink your “7 Truths” since the premise is based on old research that has largely been superseded by recent research. See:

    • LessonsOnLearning

      Hi Rick,

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Yes, newer research has come out in regards to the 7 plus or minus 2 idea. However, I’m assuming you did not download the actual guide, as none of our other “truths” are listed on the web page you provided.

      And while 7 plus or minus 2 may not be an absolute, we do use it as a guide to help facilitators think about the volume of content they are presenting to learners. The general idea of limiting content to a more manageable amount is still highly useful and applicable.