Tips for Being a More Effective Trainer

Classroom or instructor-led training is still the most popular training method because of its personal interaction and flexibility. Here are tips for getting the most out of classroom learning:

  • Outline lecture notes; don’t read them.
  • Design each part of the lecture to reinforce a training objective.
  • Always use visual aids, such as overheads, flip charts, or slides.
  • Encourage trainees to participate by giving them note-taking guides and handouts to follow during the lecture.
  • Break up the prepared presentation by inviting trainee feedback and telling stories to illustrate points.
  • Whenever possible, combine lectures with other classroom methods such as workshops or role plays to reinforce and illustrate points made in the lecture.

Well-designed handouts serve many useful functions in a training session - but only if they are well thought out and used appropriately. Here’s how to create helpful handouts and make the most effective use of them during training:

  • Make your handouts look professional by using quality paper and a good printer or high-quality copier. If you have the budget, use full-color handouts.
  • Leave plenty of white space on handouts by keeping information simple, straightforward, and uncluttered. Give participants room to make notes.
  • Use large type that is easy to read. Don’t mix typefaces.
  • Use bullets and borders to organize information and make points easy to follow.
  • Use headings for important issues and titles.
  • Use graphics whenever possible to illustrate important points.
  • Use different color papers for handouts on different topics.
  • Number handouts for easy reference when going over them with participants.
  • Wait until the end of the session to pass out handouts that you will not discuss in class to prevent distracting participants during the session.
  • Remember: Handouts supplement a presentation, they are not the presentation itself.

PowerPoint presentations are one of the most popular and powerful training tools in use today. As with any tool, there’s a right way and a wrong to use it - and the tool’s effectiveness is directly proportional to the way it is used. Here’s how to get the most effective use of PowerPoint presentations:

  • Outline your presentation’s main points and message before creating a single slide. Story comes first, then slides.
  • Keep slides simple. Use only three to five bullets and one or two graphics per slide.
  • Keep animation to a minimum. Don’t use it just because it’s there. The software allows you to make text and images move, blink, fade in, swoop over, etc., but most of this movement is only a distraction and actually hinders audience retention of the points you’re trying to make. Trainees may pay more attention to the pretty colors or the impressive effects as words come flying in than to the information those words contain.
  • Limit the number of slides to between 20 and 30. This is generally a comfortable amount of information to give out in an hour-long presentation. Fewer slides may not cover a topic adequately and more slides may cause information overload in trainees.
  • Run your completed presentation a few times on your own computer to fix any glitches. Also run it a few times on the computer you will be using in class to make sure it works smoothly on that machine.
  • While running your presentation in the training room, figure out the best place to position yourself. Choose a spot that gives you easy access to advance slides as well as availability to audience members so that you can see whether they want your attention to ask questions or comment on a slide’s points.
  • When rehearsing your presentation, experiment with lighting in the room to make sure that slides are easily visible and that there’s enough light for trainees to take notes.
  • Begin each session by giving a brief overview of the topic and/or asking participants what they expect to learn before getting into the slide presentation. This establishes a connection between you and the audience in which you can set up an atmosphere ofinteractivity before lowering the lights, which could inhibit audience members from speaking up if you haven’t set the stage for them to feel free to do so.