How to Be an Effective Trainer

Posted by Phil Weber on February 22, 2015

Recently, a colleague of mine started a new job. For the past several years, she had been a corporate learning and development manager; now, for the first time, she would be responsible for training IT people. She asked me if I could recommend any publications or other resources devoted to IT training. Here’s how I replied:

Hi, Mary: Congratulations on the new job! It sounds interesting and challenging.

I am not aware of any resources (publications, blogs, etc.) specifically about IT training. The principles of effective training are the same for IT as they are for any other field:

  • Focus on the learner. Make the training relevant and practical: What should the learner be able to do (not know) after attending the training?

  • Avoid information dumps. If the information is available in written form (documentation, etc.), there’s no need to present it verbally. Instead, the training should focus on practice: tasks the learner will need to perform back on the job, practice finding information in the documentation, etc.

  • Look for alternatives to instructor-led training. This is especially important if you’re a one-person show and you need to scale: The fastest way to develop a class is to not develop it; a document, screencast, or job aid may be sufficient. You can typically create these much more quickly than an instructor-led class, and once created, they can be used and re-used without requiring any more of your time.

I have found the following resources valuable in learning these principles and selling them to stakeholders:

  •, especially her posts about Action Mapping and using scenarios.

  • This blog is mostly about e-learning, but I like their ideas about moving on from ADDIE, and their Context, Challenge, Activity, Feedback (CCAF) method to keep training focused on the learner.

What advice would you give my friend?

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