It’s often said that “the mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, and the great teacher inspires.” Almost anyone who’s ever wondered how to be a good trainer has also wondered how to inspire learners to perform at their best. And when it comes to delivering an effective training program, the qualities of a good trainer can make all the difference.
Many people think that training is as easy as knowing the subject matter and being able to communicate well. While you absolutely need both of these qualities, they’re hardly enough to make an effective trainer.
Learners’ reactions to training hint about whether your training is successful or not.
“If learners think it looks bad, you may have lost a good percentage of the battle in getting them to pay attention.” Patti Shank, learning designer, researcher, and author, says. If learners find the training unappealing, it could hinder their engagement and attention during training.
So, what trainer qualities and skills do you need to become a good trainer?
The core qualities of a good trainer
Are you wondering how to become a good trainer and whether you have what it takes? Well, the good news is that inspiring, superstar trainers are made, not born.
So, what makes a good trainer?
Effective trainers continuously practice and develop qualities that improve their understanding of learner and organizational needs. They understand that the more they exercise these qualities, the better equipped they’ll be to deliver training with accuracy and engagement, create an active learning atmosphere, incorporate current learning trends—and the list goes on.
Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to be a good trainer:
1. Be a good (and patient) listener
Some of the qualities of a good trainer are absolutely non-negotiable. The ability to listen, ask the right questions, and understand the needs of the learner are at the top of this list.
What is needs analysis if not the process of carefully listening to the target audience and unpacking what they need most? A talented trainer is able to listen so closely to what their audience thinks they need, that they can clearly see what they actually need.
For example, a group of sales associates might report that they need product training so they can close more deals per month. A good trainer might determine that sales staff actually have sufficient product knowledge already, but really need negotiation training to win over customers more quickly.
2. Approach training strategically
A strategic trainer knows that training is only effective if it’s within budget and delivers a desirable return on investment (ROI). Sounds obvious, right? Well, unfortunately, these factors are easy to forget once complex training tasks start to pile up.
One of the most important qualities of a good trainer is their ability to keep their eye on the goal and handle limitations without compromising on training quality. This is best achieved through partnering with various roles within the organization, such as department managers, operations, and human resources.
No strategic trainer will start a project without first understanding the costs, desired ROI, and benchmarks involved. This knowledge arms them to deliver the most effective training they can, with the full support of key stakeholders.
3. Encourage engagement
Turning training into a two-way street (rather than a one-person show) is at the core of what makes a good trainer. Yes, being entertaining is a fantastic quality in any trainer. But getting learners to absorb and retain new skills goes way beyond entertainment.
For skill development to really happen, learners need opportunities to share their ideas, answer questions, and practice what they’ve learned. The traditional “top-down” lecture style simply isn’t effective for achieving meaningful learning, even if the lecturer is a blast.
The best trainers encourage learners to ask questions, get involved in activities, and be active in their learning rather than passively consuming the material. Also, they incorporate interactive and participatory elements into their training to keep learners engaged. Even in virtual or hybrid environments.
4. Be organized
Some trainers are gloriously inspiring one day, and lackluster the next. This is usually due to a lack of effective organization. Want to be consistently great? Take time to plan your training materials and delivery carefully.
Well-organized lessons and materials help you to remain focused on the topic at hand, instead of jumping around. This prevents facilitated sessions from becoming dragged out and losing the audience’s attention.
The role of the trainer as a project manager shouldn’t be underestimated, either. Keeping stakeholders up to date on the training project’s progress is important to remaining strategic and delivering effective training.
5. Appreciate good instructional design
The ability to design well-structured courses and build fit-for-purpose content is one of the frequently overlooked qualities of a good trainer. Rather, a trainer’s in-person presence and delivery are often mistaken as the determining factor of their effectiveness.
Truthfully, a lot of work goes into planning training programs that meet all the organization’s training goals and create seamless learning experiences. But this work can make all the difference to learners’ results and long-term behavioral improvement.
A top-notch trainer will have the savvy to design courses that suit the mode of delivery (e.g. face-to-face, blended, or fully online), and create a wide variety of materials that engage and motivate all learners.
6. Be adaptable
Adaptability is an essential trainer skill in the modern workplace. It involves the ability to seamlessly adjust training methods and content to accommodate various learning styles. Plus, respond to the ever-changing needs of the workplace.
With this skill at hand, trainers can attune to the unique learner preferences and capabilities. And then, ensure that the training experience is tailored to maximize comprehension and retention. Also, in a dynamic, tech-driven world, where industry trends evolve rapidly, adaptability is key. Trainers must remain flexible in updating content to stay current and relevant.
By embracing adaptability, trainers create a responsive learning environment that also aligns with the demands and challenges of the modern workplace.
7. Have a finger on the pulse of learning trends
Another aspect of instructional design know-how that elevates a trainer from ‘just okay’ to great, is an awareness of the latest training trends. Effective trainers keep up with current research in adult education and digital delivery and look out for opportunities to incorporate proven trends into their training.
Does this mean that knowing the difference between microlearning and gamification is the be-all and end-all of how to be a good trainer? Not quite.
While exceptional trainers need to know which trends are gaining traction, it’s much more important that they have the ability to be critical about which trends they choose to incorporate.
For example, if you see that webinars are trending as a content format that boosts collaboration over long distances, is it smart to incorporate a webinar in a one-week face-to-face course? Incorporating trends just because they’re trendy is a slippery slope, and easily undermines the effectiveness of training.
8. Analyze and improve again, and again, and again
Self-improvement is one of the most impactful qualities of a good trainer. Because great trainers are not only focused on developing their learners, but also developing themselves. You can improve your performance by taking advantage of surveys and other forms of feedback. Don’t shy away from constructive feedback but take it as an opportunity to re-examine your methods and do better the next time around.
Also, good trainers don’t just improve themselves. They evaluate their training materials regularly, too. Old or irrelevant materials are phased out in favor of content that is more engaging and aligned with learner feedback about the course.
9. Use the right tools
Selecting the right tools is a strategic move that transforms training sessions into immersive learning experiences.
The appropriate training platforms act as the canvas where exceptional trainers give life to training content with multimedia to capture the attention of learners. An LMS allows integrating quizzes and interactive elements to assess comprehension and keep participants actively engaged. In this training environment, learning isn’t a passive activity but a dynamic exchange.
Think of it as a director choosing the perfect stage for a play. Each feature of the software becomes a prop, a cue, or a backdrop that enhances the overall performance (and experience.) So, trainers should recognize that the right tech support allows them to transcend the limitations of traditional training methods. Whether it’s adding VR for hands-on simulations or using collaborative tools for group activities.
For modern training, the right tools are the catalyst for creating an impactful and unforgettable learning journey.
At the same time it’s necessary to build the skills to make the most out of the right tools. Enter tech proficiency. It’s the superhero cape of exceptional trainers in today’s workplace. It’s about rocking the latest tools and platforms to turn virtual and digital training into an interactive spectacle that fits the unique rhythm of remote or hybrid work setups.
Tech-savvy trainers aren’t just clicking buttons. They’re creating meaningful learning experiences and a digital culture while breaking down geographical barriers. In this era of flexible work, being tech-proficient is essential for creating training sessions that captivate and resonate with learners.
10. Prize lifelong learning
If you’re wondering about the qualities of a good trainer, you should know that, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. Don’t expect that you can take a single course once and rest assured you reached your goal. The best trainers constantly ask themselves: “what makes a good trainer?” Because, who better to deliver training than someone who is constantly learning themselves? That’s why lifelong learning is one of the important characteristics of a good trainer.
Trainers who regularly undertake their own learning are more in touch with the struggles and triumphs of the everyday adult learner. This makes them more effective in choosing content types, topics, and convenience features like mobile learning when planning a course.
Lifelong learners are also inherently inspirational. Their passion and thirst for learning is infectious and can make all the difference when the topic they need to teach is dry or obscure.
11. Value inclusion
Inclusivity isn’t a buzzword in the world of exceptional trainers. It’s the guiding principle that shapes every aspect of the learning experience.
Inclusive trainers don’t go with the one-size-fits-all approach. They embrace diverse learning styles and backgrounds and celebrate the uniqueness of each learner. Whether it’s visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or a combination of these.
Beyond adapting content, they create a welcoming space that respects different cultural perspectives, backgrounds, and ages. They foster an environment where every participant feels valued and understood.
With this skill, trainers ensure that every learner feels empowered and engaged in the transformative process of learning. Regardless of their individual journey.
Equip great trainers with the best equipment
The skills and qualities of a good trainer shouldn’t be viewed as just checkboxes.
They’re the ingredients that can turn a training program from good to exceptional. From dull to downright engaging. Plus, trainers should not just own these qualities. They should also apply them.
Learners shouldn’t just complete their program. They should thrive, actively participate, absorb knowledge like sponges and apply it daily. And this is the tangible impact of dedicated trainers.
Plus, to catapult training into the realm of next-level, exceptional trainers need the right software to unlock innovative features. The right tools are the trainers’ active collaborators in creating these immersive learning experience that capture learners.
So, if you’re a trainer on a quest for excellence, combine these qualities with the right software to dive into a world of limitless training possibilities and results.