From time to time, I’m asked to go out for coffee with someone who is new to corporate training. The one question that always comes up is: How did you learn how to be a trainer?
Following is my list of 26 corporate learning and development that I either I did or wished I’d done in order to learn how to be the best trainer I could be, as quickly as possible:
- Join the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
- Join your local ATD chapter and go to a meeting and learn about the kinds of projects that other local training professionals are working on.
- If you’re going to dabble with elearning, join the Elearning Guild (the basic membership is totally free)
Read about Learning & Development
- Read TD magazine (ATD’s monthly magazine that is included in your ATD membership), cover to cover, each month to learn the basics of training as well as emerging trends in the field.
- Read Bob Pike’s Creative Training Techniques Handbook.
- Read Will Thalheimer’s Performance-focused Smile Sheets.
- If you’re going to dabble with elearning, read Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning.
- Read Jane Vella’s Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach,
- Read John Kotter’s The Heart of Change (because training is truly about change management).
- If you’re going to join the Elearning Guild, then be sure to read Learning Solutions Magazine, too.
- If I may make a shameless plug… my book What’s Your Formula? is designed to give a big picture overview for professionals who are new to the L&D space.
Learn from Others in Learning & Development
- Find an experienced training professional to go out and have coffee with on a semi-regular basis and ask all the questions you can think of.
- Follow these folks.
- Watch some TED Talks to observe the different strategies that some master speakers use to engage their audiences (if you’re looking for some place to begin, try this one and this one
- Join a course with established L&D experts like the L&D Pro Academy. The fundamentals course is designed to help you build the skills you need to be successful and feel confident in your new role.
- If you’re already dabbling with elearning, and specifically if you’re dabbling with Storyline, be sure to try your hand at Articulate’s weekly elearning challenges
- Before you open PowerPoint, use some sort of presentation planning template (like this one)
- Remember that you may not always need to use PowerPoint
- Things you write on flipchart and hang on the wall will last through your entire session… information on PowerPoint slides is gone the moment you advance to the next slide
- Invest in a pack of Mr. Sketch markers
- Write notes to yourself lightly in pencil on flipcharts so that you can remember key points
- Creating a safe environment doesn’t mean that your audience will necessarily have to be comfortable (in fact, some of the most powerful learning experiences are when people in your audience need to get out of their comfort zone… in a safe way where it’s ok to not always succeed)
- You don’t always need to come up with original activities… borrow them from other people (here are 20 activities you can borrow right now!)
- Just because you’re new doesn’t mean you don’t have amazing ideas. Share your ideas with your colleagues or with the larger learning community through LinkedIn posts or start your own blog!
- If you have something truly amazing, reach out to one of the editors at TD magazine and pitch an idea for an article.
- Have fun, because if it’s not fun for you, it definitely won’t be fun for your audience