Tip #358: Learn From Other Trainers

“Learn from everyone, copy no one.” Don Shula

“When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.” Anatole France

Similar to many trainers, I began training others long before I ever had a formal train-the-trainer program. The only way I could improve was by observing and learning from other trainers.

Here is a small sampling of what I have learned:

When I was in high school, my mother, Merle Levine, was a social studies teacher. She was the first “trainer” I ever saw use role plays and simulations to bring history alive for her students. She also put comic strips on handouts to make key points in a humorous way. It was because of her that I always add colorful comic strips to my audiovisuals.

I don’t recall his name, but his generosity imprinted on my trainer’s soul. Back in 1988, I attended a consultant’s workshop at the International Conference of the American Society for Training and Development. As we walked in the door, we were each handed a small Hawaiian orchid! I was completely awed by the speaker’s thoughtfulness and kindness. To this day, in homage to this wonderful man, I always bring candy and gifts and do my best to treat my participants as my guests.

Jeffrey Anthony taught me two wonderful techniques. First, to create an agenda process wall map to keep me and the participants on track in a visually interesting and colorful way. Second, to take digital photos of all flip charted work during a session rather than carting all of the flip charts back to the office and transcribing them. When I send copies of the photos to the participants, there is the additional benefit that the handwriting and marker colors evoke the original workshop experience for them.

Sharon Bowman taught me many things about meeting the needs of kinesthetic learners and getting everyone on their feet with pair shares, pop ups and gallery walks. She was also the first trainer I remember observing who created colorful borders on flip charts to make them more visually appealing.

Elaine Biech also taught me many creative ways to engage participants. Two of my favorite activities are a relay race between participant teams to check their comprehension and a “Yes, And..” oral relay that allows participants to vent both sides of an issue. Both activities meet the needs of aural, visual and kinesthetic learners and are a lot of fun for everyone.

As trainers, why not learn from the best and use what works?

Janis Taylor, Technical Training Director for Patient Care and Clinical Informatics at Philips Healthcare, responded to this Tip:

“Play music. If you want to get people’s attention have something lively, like George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” playing as people arrive. Good fodder for lighthearted jokes too. I learned this from you Deborah!”

Janis, thank you!

What have you learned from other trainers that helped you become better at your craft

May your learning be sweet.


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