Corporate trainers advice and tips
  • Advice or key tip for freelance and corporate trainers. 100 – 300 words.
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Life as a classroom or corporate trainer is not always easy, particularly given the variety of people you might be teaching from across the corporate world.

Whether you are providing training workshops for a company or for workshops you yourself have organized, these 10 tips from 10 corporate trainers from around the world, you might find very useful!

1. Keeping Training Simple

From Paul of – DDA Training.

Keep teaching simple in the corporate world and cover the basics first.

What I have found is that it is very easy to try and over-teach as a corporate trainer.

By this, I mean that as an expert in a given niche or topic area (wayfinding in my case), it is too easy to assume that others speak the same discourse and will easily grasp the same ideas.

I think that taking care to simplify whatever you are teaching and starting with the basics and making sure that you teach a solid foundation in the subject you are providing training for is essential.

The difficulty, of course, when teaching in-house i.e. in a corporate location is that the people you are training often have such a wide range of skills and understanding in the first place.

Even the students who already have good knowledge of the topic already will often pick up some new ideas and ways of seeing the topic area though if you start with the foundations.

Of course though, if you know from the start that this is an advanced class in terms of knowledge around a topic area, then you can start off with just teaching advanced stages.

2. Making the Workshop and Corporate Training Fun

From Valeria of – Training for Bloggers.

Learning in a fun environment

For me, making the workshops fun, fun and more fun is what I find makes the training memorable for myself as a trainer and for the participants.

Now I am not saying that the quality of the training is not vital as it is, but by making sure that activities and games are embedded in the training, the training has that much more impact.

I enjoy making interactive activities a key part of any training I give in person. Combined with my teaching at the front of the class, it helps in terms of participants’ different learning styles (pedagogy).Activities also make it easier for participants to meet others and to relax.

Activities also make it easier for participants to meet others and to relax.

3. Making the Training Structured

From Luke of CMAS Learning

Structured training

I have been creating training programs for many years and I have also attended tonnes of training and workshop sessions over the years.

One of the biggest issues I have seen over the years is that far too many trainers fail to create a proper structure for the training sessions they hold.

Clients pay a lot of money to attend and providing quality training is the best form of marketing to get repeat business.

There are plenty of off-the-shelf structured and quality training packages so there is no need to try and approach providing training without a well-structured training program.

Including the right mix of activities and games, and timing the training to accommodate breaks, registration and end of course round-up, and so on, should be planned accordingly and properly.

4. Elicit Feedback So You Can Improve in the future

From Paige of Florida Atlantic University where they teach Corporate Training.

Corporate training courses in Florida and giving feedback

It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly useful and worthwhile trying to get feedback is from those who attend any workshops that I hold.

Teaching corporate trainers and being a corporate trainer myself, teaching adults can really be quite different compared to teaching in a school, college or university.

The existing knowledge of participants, as you can imagine, if always going to be higher amongst adult learners and in the business world. So, having a different approach to providing training is often needed.

And the best way I always find, for knowing how best to direct and guide training days and workshops, is to continually ask and get feedback from anyone who attends one of your workshops.

Just create a one-page questionnaire with only a couple of questions on it and make them open-ended. Give users a chance to say whatever they wish to.

You might also want to give the trainees the opportunity to complete the forms anonymously so that they are more relaxed to say what they want to freely and without any concern over what they say.

Be open to feedback, learn from it, and let it shape you into an even better trainer is my advice!

5. Make Sure You Accommodate Different Learning Types and Styles

Pamela of GBS Corporate.

Learning styles and using different ways to offer training in the classroom

We all learn in different ways and understanding this is vital if you want to be a great trainer and classroom teacher.

Some learners really get the most out of auditory learning, that is, for example, through the trainer verbally or vocally teaching. Some learners are great listeners and absorb knowledge this way.

Other trainees can be visual in how they best learn and so, using PowerPoint presentations and other graphics and ways of using sight for learning, is the way to go.

The idea and understanding of kinaesthetic learning is also gaining traction. Learning by touch can be a powerful way of learning. A corporeal method helps some people learn through this physical memory and recollection.

The key and my tip here is to remember to adopt a variety of tools and activities to engage all trainees by using a variety of methods to engage all learning styles. Mix it up!

6. Pay Attention to the Classroom Layout

Lynda from Personal Impact.

Training room layout

Whilst classroom and training room layout is just one aspect of providing a good workshop, I have seen many training sessions lose momentum and not go as well as they could have because attention was not paid to the layout of the training room.

Use the right training day seating plan,  (i.e. use the right seating plan such as chairs around tables if you want students to cooperate in small groups).

The temptation, for some trainers, can be to just use the seating setup and classroom layout that already exists in the venue.

It can be well-worth though scoping out the venue and taking a moment or two to consider what seating layout would best suit the course you are teaching.

7. Giving Students a Chance To Talk

Dr George Jennings, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

A student in a busienss workshop giving feedback

People like to talk!

It makes them happy and more engaged with the learning process. This talk can be even more enjoyable and productive when it is for a specific purpose.

I have found during my years as a university lecturer and English teacher that both students and clients work best when they are given room to speak about a variety of topics over a term or course.

We as trainers like to perform, make jokes, present and share our knowledge, but this is the conventional method of speak, present and deliver: something often associated with long lectures and classes based around textbooks.

Having worked at several universities, I have received comments from students about me “lecturing” in seminars and not breaking up the delivery with plentiful discussion.

I then attempted to bring discussion and group work into each class through practical worksheets tailor-made for the exact module or company I was working with.

I learned this in the corporate world, where I had lengthy conversations with business leaders and executives in Mexico City for five years.

Although English language grammar books were helpful for beginners, more intermediate and advanced speakers wanted to do just that: speak, and about many topics relevant to both their professional work and the surrounding social world that drives it.

Prompting clients to prepare for a talk and treat the conversation as a practical project helped students commit and actually help plan the content rather than being passive recipients of it.

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8. Use Pace to Your Advantage

From Michael of Skillset Skills.

Teaching speed

Teaching at the right pace, at a suitable speed, is very important. The perfect speed depends on the participants, the topic and the knowledge that participants have of it.

In any case, if your pace is too slow learners will become bored and distracted. If it is too fast, they will also lose motivation as they will not be able to follow you.

Assessing what the right pace is, is not easy. It comes down to experience, trial and error and, most of all, from observing how the learners react.

After a while, you will be able to see if they get distracted and restless and you will be able to adjust your pace. Also, a very good way to check if you are going too slow or to fast is to ask participants directly by eliciting feedback.

9. Create a Comfortable and Safe Learning Environment

From Jill of In2Motivation.

Comfortable classroom

For people to learn well and be able to concentrate, a safe and comfortable environment is vital. By environment, I mean both the physical and mental environment.

In terms of the physical environment, ideally, there should be enough natural light, the temperature should not be too hot nor too cold and the seats should be comfortable.

Also, the setting should be such that everybody should be able to see and hear properly and the room should be accessible for people with mobility issues. Check also that there aren’t any health and safety hazards (such as trailing cables, for example).

The mental environment is just as important for learning as people should be made to feel welcome and put at ease. Everybody should be able to express themselves while respecting others, and feel that their opinion is taken into consideration.

10. Try and Show Passion for What You are Teaching

From Julie of Norcal Business Coaching.

Teaching in a positive manner to inspire

For me, when teaching, passion is key. After all, when you teach somebody, you are also trying to inspire them. Otherwise, they will get bored and switch off.

If you, as the trainer, are not passionate about the topic you teach, then why should your participants want to learn?

I understand that it is not always easy to come across as passionate. You may be teaching a topic that you are not very interested in yourself but your client requested it. Or, that day, you might be feeling tired or unwell.

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When you are not feeling very inspired, try to hype yourself up a bit before teaching. Remember the reason why you are a trainer in the first place. That is, that you love to teach and give people additional tools to improve their lives!

If necessary, when you are on your own before the session, try to raise your energy levels by jumping up and down a bit or listening to an inspiring and energetic piece of music! It works for me!

11. Make the Ground Rules Clear for the Training Day

Tip from Mark Jenkins, a freelance trainer from Wales, UK.

Training tips and advice from a freelance trainer

At the beginning of any training day, workshop or event, I strongly recommend making the ground rules really clear.

With adult learners, the best way to do this is to make an agreement with the learners by getting them to suggest a charter for the rules of the session.

In the end, you still end up with the same rules but it is as though the participants then buy into the ground rules more easily.

Rules such as no cellphone usage during the session, everyone must be back on time from breaks, and so on, will help to make your training event go more smoothly.

12. Always Make the Learning Objectives Clear

Simon Newman (Freelance Trainer) from Exeter, UK.

Making the lesson easier to visualise in terms of the learning objectives
Make the structure of the lesson or workshop clear from the start.

In addition to the great tips already covered, another thing that I consider important when providing teaching and in fact, any form of teaching, is to make the learning objectives clear from the start.

After the initial greetings and welcome, I recommend having on the projector a simple list of bullet points that clarify what the learning objectives for the day or for that session will be.

You only need three to five objectives, enough to give the students a roadmap as it were, of how the lesson is shaped. This roadmap gives clarity and direction so that the students have a better understanding of where what you teach leads.

This clarity makes it much easier for the students to visualize the topic you are teaching.

13. Learn How to Use Silence as a Trainer

Submitted by Bob Jones from the London School of Business and Finance.

Silence during training is fine.

Rookie corporate trainers, often panic when they experience silence in their classroom. They panic and anxiously try to speak and fill the gap and they talk too much!

Do not be afraid of moments of silence! In fact, you should use them as a trainer!

A pause is often a sign that people are thinking such as when you have just asked them a question. Do not expect the class to always respond instantly. Allow them a little time to consider the question.

Likewise, make use of pauses and small silences to provide emphasis on important points when teaching. Use silence to drive home key points!

14. Consider the Hierarchy of Needs In Training

Advice from Sarah Taylor of IDM.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs in training
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

Whilst Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is something that is normally taught in psychology classes, it is also extremely useful to understand as a freelance trainer.

To simplify and make the point briefly here, at the very core and bottom level of your participants’ needs, will be the physiological needs.

In training, these physiological needs include thirst, hunger or fresh air, for example. So what does this have to do with training you might well ask?

The attention you pay as a trainer to ensuring that participants have the right times breaks such as for lunch, to use the toilet, to grab a drink is very important in the training planning!

The class will really struggle with attention and focus if their physiological needs are not met so make sure that:

  • food is provided on time and of good enough quality (if food is being laid on)
  • you allow enough toilet (restroom) breaks
  • there is a good flow of fresh air into the room (if possible)
  • water is available in the room if possible (ie glasses and water jug)
  • the lunch break starts on time

15. Allow Time at the End for Any Feedback

Tip from Alison Blackhurst (Freelance trainer)

Office training workshop

I have found is amazing how valuable the 10 – 15 minutes at the end of a training session can be. Let me explain!

As the students leave the training room, some will inevitably have questions, some just wish to say thank you, and others have feedback.

It can also be an amazing time for networking as a trainer. I have actually got several jobs as a result of the business cards I have received from those attending my workshops.

I always allow 15 minutes spare for myself so that I can answer any questions and so that I get the feedback, network and to genuinely help anyone I can by answering their questions.

The positive feedback I often get also mentions how I was willing to answer any questions and was very helpful. I say this not to blow my own trumpet but just to emphasize how valuable this time is.

Getting Involved

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Valeria has been involved with education for over 16 years. She has taught in the UK at the University of Bath and Cardiff Metropolitan University (where she got her PhD), in addition to working as a researcher at Exeter University. Valeria additionally has several years of experience of also working with Ofsted and Cardiff University in management roles.

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