8 Habits of Highly Effective Trainers

8 Habits of Highly Effective Trainers

What is the secret to becoming a successful trainer? What makes a trainer stand out from the competition? Have you ever attended a course that you were so impressed by the trainer that you thought this is how you want to teach?

How about your past teachers? What did your favourite teacher do that made you interested in a particular topic? In fact some teachers are so effective in their teaching that they come to influence us for the rest of our lives, perhaps even going as far as following a career in the topic they taught.

It turns out that effective trainers have certain good habits that lead to their success. If you want to become a great trainer, all you need to do is to adopt these 8 habits. Let’s see what these habits are:


1. Effective Trainers Explore the Significance of a Subject First, and then Explain it

Before embarking on a subject, top trainers’ first priority is to explain why people need to listen to them or care about learning that subject. They know that if participants don’t care about a topic, they will not put any effort in learning it. Trainers who jump into a topic without making their audience feel excited about it, risk losing them as soon as the topic becomes a bit more involved.


Before explaining how to praise others, it is important to explain why praising is significant, why we are so deprived of it and why it helps you stand out from others.


2. Effective Trainers Seek First to Understand the Needs, Then to Teach

Training is subjective. Good trainers know that before explaining how something should be done, they need to first understand what their audience needs and which areas they have difficulties in. By carefully understanding the needs both before the training course and during the course, effective trainers can provide a tailored training solution that addresses specific requirements. By knowing the needs, you can focus on addressing weaknesses and make the training course much more efficient.


Interview the leader of a team and ask him to highlight communication issues. Next, interview the team members and see what they think of their team’s efficiency. Next, prepare a course based on identified needs by focusing on problematic areas. Deliver a course and get delegates to interact with each other under your strict guidelines so you can bring out workplace interpersonal communication issues and explore techniques that can be used to overcome such issues.


3. Effective Trainers Do Not Lecture

A top trainer is not a lecturer who constantly speaks with an aim to only pass information. A training course is about learning skills. People learn skills by doing them. A verbal unidirectional approach will have little short term effect, let aside any long lasting skill transfer. Top trainers are engaging; they raise interest in a topic, they demand participation, they guide, they provide feedback and monitor progress. They are ready to help people try, practice and demonstrate skills.


Provide games and memory exercises on giving feedback to each other at workplace. Use interactive conversational exercises so delegates can see how misunderstandings happen and what they should do to correct each other before a misunderstanding escalates. Use experiential learning methodologies to boost training while simultaniously make life easier for yourself as a trainer.   


4. Effective Trainers are Knowledgeable and Prolific

A good trainer is not necessarily a person who knows the most about a particular technical topic. The most important quality of a successful trainer is to know how to train well. Because of this, good trainers usually train people on many topics, because they are good at the art of training and helping others progress towards an ideal objective. Top trainers are usually prolific, have in depth knowledge of several topics and know how to train people on them.


Provide a variety of courses on related soft skills subjects and use your knowledge in one course (such as time management) to help delegates in other courses (such as leadership skills). In-depth knowledge of topics will help you be concise and to the point when covering a new topic so you can raise interest and awareness, teach something new while not moving away from the main topic.


5. Effective Trainers Analyse Their Performance

Successful trainers are very sensitive about their performance. They want to be the best and remain the best and the only way they can do this is by measuring their training performance and also measuring how much trainees learn. They are eager to hear back from trainees after the course. They habitually update their training materials, exercises and trainer’s script after every single course delivery so they can improve on their course every single time. No chances are ever lost in learning something new about training and how people learn.


Was the pace appropriate? Did anyone struggle with any slide? Was any topic too involved or too complex? Was any topic redundant? Were delegates already familiar with a topic? Did they find a particular topic or exercise boring? What can you do to lighten up the course and make it more entertaining?

Use well-designed feedback forms at the end of the course to gather opinions about your performance. See our guide on how to design a feedback form for more details.  


6. Effective Trainers are Lifelong Learners

Top trainers deal with knowledge and knowledge transfer. Learning and teaching is in their blood and they cannot possibly imagine themselves in a world where they are not constantly learning. They are eager to find the latest in their field and remain up to date. They are usually avid book readers and love research. They are interested in people and what helps people to learn better and progress more.


Read as much as you can, but be selective in your choices to save time. The more you read, the more you know. There is no such thing as negative knowledge. Use social media to network with other trainers and domain experts to stay current in your field. Read about the latest learning methodologies, tools and technologies and use them in your courses.


7. Effective Trainers are Consistent

Good trainers start slowly on a topic the progress forward in a consistent way. They don’t jump from topic to topic and remain focused. They immerse their audience in a topic and lead them to learn the desired skills. They know that an inconsistent approach will only confuse the delegates which in turn increase the likelihood of non-participation.


Explain why delegates need to learn a topic such as assertiveness. Explain the topic in simple terms, such as the contrast between being assertive, aggressive or passive. Explore each type in more detail so that people can relate to these categories. Provide conversational examples of aggressive exchanges, so delegates can see where a conversation fails. Provide step by step techniques on how to be assertive. Move on to more complex examples on resolving difficult conversations while remaining assertive. Use consistent examples as you move forward, so delegates can see how a conversation is improved and relate back to their world.


8. Effective Trainers Plan Ahead

Successful trainers know that planning is absolutely critical when it comes to providing an effective course. They plan the courses based on the training requirements set by their client. They research the topics to find content that satisfies these requirements. They obtain training materials and use their previous related courses to derive a tailored training course specifically designed for their delegates. They plan the pacing, the sequence of topics to explore, the overall tone of the course, subtopics, auxiliary topics to cover in case of gaps and so on. Everything is carefully planned with one objective in mind: to maximise skill transfer in a given time.


You have a public course on customer service skills. Find out who is attending before the course and which industries they are from. Some may need more telephone skills while others benefit from more face-to-face skills. Find out about their typical everyday roles. Tailor your content based on their roles to avoid talking about irrelevant topics. Select customer service example conversations from your collection of examples that are related to their line of work so you can use this as a basis of your training. Similarly, select appropriate exercises and games which are meaningful for their roles.

Use our guide on how to design a training course for more details. 


Maximising skill transfer is an art and successful trainers manage to do this by adopting the 8 highly effective habits which guide them in their careers and help them to continuously grow and become better at training others. You can be one of them, if you are not already one, and become better at training by maintaining these habits.

Do you know other critical habits of successful trainers? Please share your thoughts with the community using the comment section below.




By Ben @ Wednesday, November 2, 2011 2:54 AM

Really good article. Sums it up. Now we just have to do them all.

Phyllis winn

By Phyllis winn @ Wednesday, April 3, 2019 3:31 AM

Do you offer classes to bevome a trainer?

Chelsea Elm

By Chelsea Elm @ Wednesday, April 3, 2019 9:42 AM

Hi Phyllis

Yes we have train the trainer courses as well as books on how to become a trainer. See the following in-depth train the trainer resources.


By abdel @ Tuesday, January 14, 2020 6:24 PM

thank you so much that's helps me

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