Monday, 29 December 2014

Qualities of a Good Trainer

Train the Trainer
One of the activities I include in my Train the Trainer courses is to get participants to think about the skills and qualities needed to be a good trainer.

With this in mind, I’d like to offer you the three qualities that I think are the most important to be successful in the training room. This, of course, is in addition to having an excellent subject knowledge.


I’m going to start with communication. This is the key to ensuring a dynamic and effective training session. Good communication skills help build rapport during the vital early stages of the session, and ensure the training remains on track. 

Perhaps the greatest communication skill a trainer can possess is the ability to listen. As simple as this sounds, listening to what is being said by your group (and, in some cases, what is not being said) is paramount in creating a perfect harmony in the training room.

Communication is also the key to adapting your training to meet your participants’ needs. For example, you might deliver an employability skills course that covers such things as CVs, application forms and writing speculative letters. But don’t expect to be able to deliver it the same way with every group. You need to listen and communicate with your participants. Do they already have good CV writing skills but need more help with application forms? It’ll change from group to group, and communication will help you decide the appropriate amount of time to allocate to each part of the course.


A trainer who lacks patience is in the wrong profession. Patience is the underlying quality that drives you to try different ways of teaching the same thing when the first approach didn’t work. Patience is what makes you succeed with a learner who has behavioural problems. Patience is at the heart of supporting a learner who is struggling with self-confidence issues. Without patience, you will fail miserably in these and many other areas of the profession.


Although empathy is, itself, a wonderful quality, it goes hand-in-hand with patience in the training room. The key to helping your group in a learning situation is, firstly, to accept they are all different, and then to empathise with the different barriers that each of them are facing. For some, it might be difficulties with reading or writing. Others might struggle because English is not their first language. Or maybe they have a medical condition such as poor eyesight or limited hearing. Additionally, they may have barriers to actually being there in the first place. This could include problems at home, resistance because they don’t see why they’re there, anticipated boredom, or unable to see the relevance. A trainer with empathy will consider all these issues and see things from the participants’ perspective to find solutions.

When I’m working with a group that has these types of barriers, I will often put 30 minutes aside (or more, if required), to get these concerns “out in the open.” This is where the combination of communication, patience and empathy is at its peak. Get things right at this stage and the rest of the session can be plain sailing.

Empathy also links closely to learning styles. When you’re working with a group, you’ll have participants who absorb information in different ways. This will include visual learners, auditory learners and tactile learners who prefer a “hands on” approach. With an empathetic approach, not only to their barriers, but also to their learning styles, you’ll develop training sessions that meet the requirements of all participants. 

Gary Bedingfield is the owner of Gary Bedingfield Training, based in Glasgow, Scotland. A fully qualified trainer with more than 15 years experience, he is the author of the amazon best-selling "Training for Trainers Manual". His Train the Trainer courses are among the most popular in the country and used by voluntary organisations to the world’s largest conglomerates. Visit email or call 0845 003 9571 to find out more about training that will meet your needs.