Train-the-Trainer Course Outline

Before you jump in, you may also want to check out our new take on this in the Train-the-Trainer Lesson Plan.

What is a Train-the-Trainer Outline?

This train the trainer program outline is designed to help non-training professionals or part-time trainers design and/or deliver a presentation that can be more engaging than a traditional “I speak and you listen” training format. By inserting more engaging learning activities, every presenter has a better chance that their content will be retained, and therefore acted upon.

The following train-the-trainer workshop was developed by working with groups of full-time and part-time trainers.

Train-the-Trainer Pre-work

Why?  Having learners begin to think about the session before they come can generate enthusiasm and pique curiosity.  I try to keep any pre-work short and simple.

Survey with Four Key Questions

How do you know if your learners are “getting it”?  How have you gotten training to “stick”?  What is your learning style?  What are you expecting to take away from this session?

These questions help me to gauge where my learners are coming into the session.  If I can’t email my learners with these questions beforehand, I’ll hang four flipcharts around the room and ask my learners to write their answers to these questions as they enter the room at the beginning of the day.

Train-the-Trainer Workshop

To get through the following will take at least one full day.  If you don’t have a full day to work with your audience, you’ll need to prioritize.  It’s a bad idea to try to fit all of the following content into a 1- or 2-hour session.

Part 1: Welcome/Introductions

Why?  It sets the tone and models the atmosphere you’d like to see your learners create when they begin a training session.  This is an opportunity to make sure your learners know what they’re in for, to announce where the bathrooms are, to briefly de-brief the pre-work and to generally break the ice.

Part 2: How Training Sticks

Why? It’s very important that train-the-trainer participants understand their role in whether or not training will be transferred onto the job… and that they understand that even the best-designed and best-facilitated training will not guarantee transfer to the job.  I often refer to this short article by Bob Pike in order to frame this conversation.

Part 3: Adult Learning Theory

Adult learning theory in train-the-trainer

Why? If trainers want to be able to deliver high-quality learning experiences consistently, then they’ll need a foundation in what works and what doesn’t in how adults learn and process information.  Here I like to introduce the work of Malcolm Knowles and Jane Vella.

Warning: GO DEEP INTO THEORY AT YOUR OWN RISK.  While adult learning theory may fascinate people in the learning and development field, most others don’t care.  Any adult learning theory needs to go light on the theory and heavy in the application.  When I discuss learning styles, I have participants brainstorm how they’d touch on each style in their next presentation.  When I talk about Knowles’ concept of relevance, I insist that participants give me an elevator speech about why their audience should care about their topic.

Part 4: Instructional Design Basics

Why? This is actually an optional section if your train-the-trainer course is designed to teach others how to facilitate a curriculum that’s already been developed.  But if your train-the-trainer audience is made up of people who are responsible for creating and delivering presentations, then instructional design basics is a must-have element.

I do not touch on instructional design models such as ADDIE here.  I do however spend time discussing training session design steps, training lesson plans and the importance of learning objectives.

Part 5: Practice with Feedback

Why? This is where the rubber meets the road.  Are the trainers that you’re training actually any good?  You won’t know until you challenge them with getting in front of an audience and practicing their delivery.  Providing structured, specific feedback is key to making this effective.  Often participants (and some train-the-trainer facilitators) are hesitant to provide feedback that could be construed as critical.  Having a training effectiveness checklist that identifies specifically what successful facilitation looks like could help mitigate this factor.

Optional Train-the-Trainer Add-ons

Training Evaluation

I don’t spend too much time on this particular section as post-training feedback forms offer little value and deeper training effectiveness is often more the responsibility of a manager than a trainer.  If trainers will be responsible for training evaluation, training in this area would require an additional, significant chunk of time.

Additional Content Review

Sometimes it helps if the trainer knows a little more about the topic he/she will be facilitating, especially if it’s a technical subject or a new piece of software.  Training on sensitive subjects such as diversity will also benefit from a facilitator with a deeper understanding of the complexities of the issue.

Future Use

Don’t forget to leave your new and aspiring trainers with tools to help them remember this learning experience.  The following items can help significantly with transfer of skills to the job:

  • Job aids such as templates, lesson plans or training design checklists
  • Foundational resources such as books, magazines, trade journals or professional associations
  • Just-in-time resources such as your email address or quick reference materials like this blog

7 thoughts on “Train-the-Trainer Course Outline

  1. Hi Brian,
    In my instructional plan they are asking for a “content outline” do you have a template of this? I am really confused on this. The description on the instructional plan reads as follows:

    Content must be consistent with sound theories of child development, professional development competencies, quality standards, best practices, and licensing regulations. The Instructional Plan should include specific information regarding the content to be presented and the way in which it will be presented. Applicant should include: • Content outline (with narrative to clarify • Reference information (title, author/producer, publishing
    when needed) company and date) of DVDs/videos or audio segments used
    • Handouts to support training
    • PowerPoints

    I am also in need of advice with creating the time and sequence. How am I to format the Time and sequence my training is 120 mins long. I know that is many formats, but could you help me with a template that can help me create the time and sequence

    Time and sequence should be:
     Based on length of training
     Based on education and prior training of participants
     Based on needs assessment
     Logical and clear in sequence
     Flexible to adjust to the needs of participants, giving time to process information

    Time should be included for each activity and be based on the general training categories mentioned in the Instructional Plan.

    Thank you sooo very much!

  2. Great distillation Brian. One other thing that I like to include in train-the-trainer courses is a connection back to the manager after a program. As you mention, it is the manager’s responsibility to help training transfer, but not all take this responsibility to heart. To help facilitate this, I like to send certificates of completion to the manager along with some key questions to prompt discussion. When the manager awards the certificate to the employee, a new connection is made and there is now a support process that can be there to help the learner put knowledge into practice back on the job.

    Keep up the great posts!

    • Thanks Scott – you’re absolutely right on. I love the idea of distributing the certificates of completion through the attendees’ managers – it’s super important to make sure there is a connection with the manager. While I’ve suggested to participants that they sit with their managers in the week after the training in order to de-brief, I’d never thought of actually having the certificate distributed through the manager. Fyi – I’m planning to steal this idea…

    • I am just in the process of creating a “Train the Trainer workshop” and wanted to know how much content do delve into and the details. I am looking to have a 2 day program and feel that I might overwhelm them with information.

      • Hi Therese – this is a GREAT question, to which I unfortunately cannot give a simple answer. How much content and how many details will depend on the following factors:
        1. How experienced is the audience when it comes to facilitation skills? (If you’re putting together a program for skilled and engaging facilitators, then you can get into the actual content for whatever training curriculum they’ll be learning how to train; if they’re novice facilitators, then you’ll want to start with basic facilitation skills, then into the content of the training curriculum they’re learning).
        2. How big is the audience (this will tell you whether you can easily offer small group breakouts or even individualized attention)

        Regardless, the key will be to begin by clearly outlining your learning objectives – what should the learners be able to do by the end of your two day session. Then you’ll want to chunk your content – give a little content, then create an activity to show you that the learners get it. And of course you’ll want to make sure there is enough time (perhaps the entire second day) for your learners to practice their facilitation skills and get feedback.

        Good luck!

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