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Better Trainers

By Ashraf Al Shafaki

Even a good trainer can become a better trainer by continually sharpening the saw and upgrading himself or herself. The method set forth here allows a new or established trainer to move ahead on a path to excellence.

Road to Excellence

If you have the desire to become an excellent trainer on the long run, here is a simple plan to get you there.

The idea is to learn from your daily training experiences and document what you have learnt after delivering each training course. You might think that just by experiencing the process of delivering training you will accumulate training wisdom and become a better trainer. This might be true to some extent, yet documenting what you have learnt and squeezing your mind after each course you deliver in order to come up with what you have learnt during such experience can improve your training skills remarkably.

The Plan

The plan is to prepare very well 80 percent of the training session you are about to deliver while leaving the remaining 20 percent of the session content without preparing it thoroughly. You might just look quickly at outlines for such remaining part. During the session, you will be able to skillfully and confidently communicate to students the 80 percent of the content which you have thoroughly prepared. As for the remaining 20 percent, you can use your creativity, background knowledge and outlines you have read to thread together content for such part. By stretching your skills, you might be able to cover most of the remaining 20 percent of the content or let's say 15 percent.

The remaining 5 percent will not be covered. There is no problem to tell a student that you do not know the answer for a specific question or that you will be looking it up. In fact, this is an essential part of the training process, to let students be aware that the instructor does not know everything and that knowledge can be searched for and not necessarily found instantly in the brain of one person. Yet only experienced instructors would have the confidence courage necessary to give such response to a student. Newbie trainers might try to delude the question, answer it using guesswork or escape from it altogether which is a big mistake and causes the student to loose faith in the trainer upon finding the correct answer to the question.

The reason why it is a good idea to leave some percentage of the content unprepared and to allow a 5 percent margin of it without coverage is to allow yourself to learn while you are teaching and improve yourself constantly as a trainer. This margin of unprepared content allows you to stretch your skills as a trainer and supplies you with extended flexibility.

Documenting

After you complete delivering each training course, sit and write down what positive things you have done during that course then list the negative things that you have done as well. As you deliver one course after the other, you will find yourself accumulating heaps of experience in delivering training. The process of squeezing your mind after each course to extract the essential lessons you have learnt can be a tiering yet highly rewarding process on the long run. You might think that you will remember such lessons without writing them down, but this cannot be further from truth, humans forget and not writing them down you will just keep relearning the lessons each time and perhaps falling into the same mistakes or forgetting to use or expand on something positive you once did. Revising such documented gems before delivering a new training course can boost your performance in such course.

Sharing

After documenting your ongoing discoveries and experiences as a trainer, the best next step is to share them with others. Sharing your knowledge with others is the best way to climb up to the next level and further improve your skills. The upward learning spiral cannot be complete without sharing what you know with others.

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