What Trainers DoPosted: December 1, 2009
As you grow older you cant resist giving advice. I suppose i am reaching there if not already there. A colleague is moving into the field of technical training and we had a discussion over lunch about what it is that is required from a good instructor. This got me rambling and since this blog is also somewhat about ramblings, why not.
Technical knowledge is definitely important for a trainer. The trainer needs to know the subject well. Question we were discussing was about communication skills. How good a communicator should a good trainer be. The question was that if given a choice between a trainer who is very good technically but not so good in communicating and one who is reasonably good technically but has a very good way of communicating with participants in the training, which one would have the larger impact on the audience.
The way i see it, a good trainer has to do a number of things. The trainer needs to understand a complex concept well. Having done that the trainer needs to be able to distil the concept in a way so that they are able to simplify the ideas enough to be able to explain them to someone who doesnt know the subject while at the same time also retaining a flavour of the complexity of the subject. Having done this the trainer then needs to communicate these simplified concepts to the participants in a way that while they are able to understand the concept (which would mean communicating them in a way which is understood by the participants) they are also able to appreciate the complexity of the concepts and be able to move from the simplified view to the actual complex view of the subject. And having done this the trainer then needs to ensure they get enough feedback to be able to refine, re-explain build upon these ideas if required.
So, in a nutshell the trainer needs to understand, simplify and articulate in a way so that the concept is understood in a simple way while at the same time build appreciation of the complexity of the concept. This of course requires technical skill, communication and a way of presenting in a language which is understood by participants. Any of these components missing takes awat from the value of the training.