Best Practices For The Question-And-Answer Session After A Presentation Include Turning Subject Matter Experts Into Expert Trainers

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Turning Subject Matter Experts Into Expert Trainers

It takes more than being an SME (subject matter expert) to be a good trainer. Being knowledgeable in the cold is an important attribute of a good trainer, but it’s just the beginning. Trainers with an “edge” continuously read the room, engage participants, manage time, and check knowledge transfer. Here are three areas to consider when selecting people who have the potential to be good trainers.

** Attributes of good trainers

Describe carefully the criteria for the type of person who can be great trainer for your environment.

Obviously, the trainer must know the cold content. However, as we say in the training business, you need to take some steps with the student first. At the same time, training is not about being the smartest person in the room. Training, or ‘facilitating learning’ is about engaging people and making content memorable.

Who makes the best trainers? It might be tempting to think that people who don’t enjoy the spotlight don’t make good trainers. While it’s true that being comfortable in front of a group is important, great trainers come in all personality types.

What skills or qualities make a good trainer? Here’s a quick one list:

  • Have good relationships with others

  • Respected by coworkers and peers

  • Credibility/knowledge in their field

  • Have a positive attitude

  • Really want to help others shine

  • Eager to continue developing their skills as a training facilitator

** 5 Things Great Trainers Do

1. Focused on learning. Trainers who focus on themselves tend to ‘present’ more than train. The most effective trainers don’t try to be the smartest person in the room. Good trainers elicit ideas, questions, and conversations from participants.

2. Time management. It takes practice and experience to balance the amount of time allocated for training. Tangents are the biggest cause of training derailments, and skilled facilitators learn how to handle various types of such derailments.

3. Manage their energy. A lot goes on inside a facilitator’s head. At any given moment they are delivering a message, reading the room, planning the next fun activity, and checking the time. It can be exhausting for even the most seasoned trainer. Maintaining high energy throughout a session, whether it’s 2 hours or 2 full days, takes effort. This may require new habits, such as keeping high-energy snacks, or trading afternoon coffee for a glass of water.

4. Practice. Practice can help people who don’t like public speaking to overcome the anxiety that appears in the first 5 minutes. Practicing also helps the trainer create examples and stories that help make their point more clearly. Good trainers practice presenting complex ideas in an easy-to-understand way.

5. Test the knowledge. (see next tip)

** Good trainers are constantly testing knowledge

There are three main types of tests that can convince the facilitator that the audience ‘gets it’. These are pre, embedded and post-tests. Trying to transfer knowledge doesn’t have to be complicated. Work with the resources you have, whether they are index cards or a complex LMS (learning management system).

Pre-tests provide a baseline for the knowledge level at which people go into training. Reviewing the gaps in the pre-test can shape the trainer’s focus areas.

You can choose to do a simple 3-question self-reported survey, up to a full 360° survey involving a dozen respondents.

Placed test takes place throughout the training. These come in the form of paired segments, group discussions, written questions, or oral group questions. The key to using embedded testing is to read the room to make sure most people ‘get it’. Reading body language and facial expressions is an important skill for a trainer.

Post-tests occur at the end of the training and answer the question, “Did they learn it?” Comparing post-test scores against pre-test scores is a good technique for measuring learning. Again, it doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t require a full LMS to be effective.

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