What’s the value of a train the trainer session?

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One of my favorite topics to design and deliver is presentation skills. When people present better, they have the opportunity to change the world.

Over the past few years, as I reflect on these sessions, I’ve begun to question the value. Is a presentation skills or train the trainer session worth the investment of time and money? Too often, when I peek in on what people are doing after attending such a session, I would have to say: no, the investment of time and money wasn’t worth it.  

The single biggest reason I feel this way is the same reason that many other training programs – from sales training to leadership development and all sorts of other topics – are also poor investments of time and money. After the training wraps up, people go back to their desks or their offices, and they play catch-up on emails and phone calls and other work. Any enthusiasm they had for applying newly learned skills fades away as the demands of their day-to-day job take hold.

Recently I had an opportunity to design a workshop and try to reverse this pattern. InsideNGO recently asked me to help put together a follow-up course to their foundational Training of Trainers program.

There are two things I like about this project:

  1. It’s completely online. This means that content can be fed to participants in their natural environment – at their desks, during the work day. Principles of adult learning and key concepts to engage people will be in front of them during the natural flow of their work day.
  2. It supports real-world application. While foundational training programs are necessary, all too often that’s where the learning stops, and learners are asked to go back on their own and perhaps try to maybe apply something they learned and hope they get it right. This course will challenge participants to put their foundational knowledge of presentation skills to use on a real-world presentation. Participants will receive support and feedback from course instructors and their peers in order to continue to build and advance their presentation skill set. After all, if you don’t use it you lose it.

If you’ve been presenting for a few years and want to sharpen your skills or if you just want to engage with some others who are at the same point in their training delivery journey, feel free to check it out and see if this might be something you’d be interested in.

Whether you’re relatively new or extremely experienced in the world of learning and development, I’d love to hear from you, too. What are some strategies you’ve put in place to boost the odds that participants will apply what you’ve taught them?

4 thoughts on “What’s the value of a train the trainer session?

  1. I do T3s for SMEs here at my job, and the most valuable part is the classroom observation (like Kirkpatrick Level 3) for each attendee, including being video taped. I have a detailed rubric of things I’m looking for in their training session, and a high expectation of performance in order to certify them (90% or above). Most SMEs don’t do well at all the first time out, and many take 2-3 observations before stuff starts sinking in. The basic lesson is that classroom training isn’t enough – you have to hold folks accountable back on the job, and YES, it takes more of my time, and YES it’s resource intensive, but the folks that stick with me and do several observations get better and better each time. We are making huge changes here at my agency from our T3 program, I’m proud to say. I’m not a fan of virtual training for anything, especially T3 stuff. Best in person.

    • That sounds like a very well-designed program, Jenn!

      In your final note you suggest avoiding virtual T3 stuff. It’s an interesting conversation that I had with the InsideNGO folks. What thoughts do you have about serving participants who are in remote/satellite offices and coming together in person isn’t feasible?

  2. Moving from corporate to Higher education L&D the main thing is ‘constructive alignment’ …that is, the content acts as scaffolding to learning on the job. Less spoon feeding more development of the critical thinking that supports making the right decisions (context= managing and leading at work).

    • Yes, I like that concept.

      The reason I say that I’ve soured on having people sent to training of trainers or presentation skills courses is because concepts such as constructive alignment take practice and intention. Too many SMEs who are sent to TOT or presentation skills courses return to their work and don’t have a lot of time to apply such concepts consistently, so the transfer to the workspace is low and they default back to mainly telling people what they know.

      Unless there’s some sort of follow up, support, structure and accountability, it’s tough for any training – such as a TOT or presentation skills training – to stick (no matter how well designed or how motivated the learners are).

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