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26 tips for anyone new to the field of corporate training

Are you new to training? Here are some things I did (or wish I had done) to carve out a career in this space.

From time to time, I’m asked to go out for coffee with someone who is new to the corporate training field. The one question that always comes up is: How did you learn how to be a trainer?

Following is my list of 26 things I either did or wished I’d done in order to learn how to be the best trainer I could be, as quickly as possible:

  1. Join the Association for Talent Development (ATD)
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Read Bob Pike’s Creative Training Techniques Handbook
  5. Read Will Thalheimer’s Performance-focused Smile Sheets
  6. If you’re going to dabble with elearning, read Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning
  7. Read Jane Vella’s Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach
  8. Read John Kotter’s The Heart of Change (because training is truly about change management)
  9. 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
  10. Again, if you’re going to dabble with elearning, join the Elearning Guild (the basic membership is totally free)
  11. And if you’re going to join the Elearning Guild, then be sure to read Learning Solutions Magazine, too
  12. 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
  13. Sign up for Twitter, then be sure to follow these folks
  14. Before you open PowerPoint, use some sort of presentation planning template (like this one)
  15. Remember that you may not always need to use PowerPoint
  16. 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)
  17. 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
  18. Invest in a pack of Mr. Sketch markers
  19. Write notes to yourself lightly in pencil on flipcharts so that you can remember key points
  20. Try using Kahoot to boost energy in the room
  21. Or PollEverywhere in order to take the pulse of your audience
  22. 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)
  23. 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!)
  24. 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!
  25. If you have something truly amazing, reach out to one of the editors at TD magazine and pitch an idea for an article.
  26. Have fun, because if it’s not fun for you, it definitely won’t be fun for your audience

Are you new to training? What’s the best piece of advice on this list? Drop me a note in the comment section.

Are you an experienced training professional? What’s missing from this list? Please add to this list in the comment section!

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