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train the trainer Glasgow Edinburgh presentation skills

Train the trainer: how to coach others

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re an expert in something.

And as a result, your organisation will want to you to pass your skills onto others.

More and more, we’re being asked about ‘train the trainer’ sessions.

So this week, we look at how to coach people and how to train people in a group setting.

First, you need to create a positive, encouraging atmosphere that makes people feel comfortable.

As trainers, we’ve done that over 4000 times in the last 29 years, across 24 countries.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

Use people’s names

train the trainer Glasgow Edinburgh presentation skills

A person’s name is their single favourite sound.

We’re conditioned from a young age to respond to it.

And when we hear it, you have our undivided attention.

To do this, you need to learn people’s names. And to do that, you need to ask for them.

Every week, I’ll hear the phrase:

“I’m just terrible with names”.

I was too. But I learned the importance of them.

So I’ll bank the names of those I meet for the first time and if necessary, ask for confirmation around the training table before we begin the session.

And yes, I’ll often use the wrong name, twice in five sessions in the last week (Paul, Ramon, if you’re reading this, sorry).

But to let the fear of using the wrong name stop you is to underestimate its importance.

So if you’re coaching a group, learn the names and ask for confirmation if you need to.

Now build them into the interactive sections of your presentation.

Train the Trainer tip: write names down and use them as a map around the table. 

Find out what each person wants to achieve

train the trainer Glasgow Edinburgh presentation skills

This is often overlooked.

You have a set agenda and you’ve been asked to deliver a set of training.

If you simply launch in, you’re missing a trick.

Simply ask those attending:

“What do you want to get from today?”

You’ll hear back sensible suggestions and now you can tailor your material towards it.

Let’s say the majority of the group says they want to learn how to use Powerpoint effectively.

Yet that section is buried at the end of your seminar.

If you make them wait until the end, you’ll lose them.

If you reorganise your session to lead with Powerpoint tips, they’ll appreciate it.

And now you’ve listened to everyone, everyone will be far more likely to listen to you.

Train the Trainer tip: note aims down first thing and ask at the end if they’ve been met.

Ask questions about each person

train the trainer Glasgow Edinburgh presentation skills

“What challenges do you face in your role?”

“How did you feel when you saw this in front of you?”

“Why did you decide to join the organisation?”

Open, personal questions have a great impact on building rapport.

And as long as the question is relevant, the rest of the group will be happy to indulge you.

You’ll find out a lot about that person’s character, desires and goals.

So whether it’s over coffee informally or during the lunch break, get to know people.

As a trainer, your job is to absorb these aims, goals and motivations into your seminar.

Train the Trainer tip: if the group is 10 or above, ask these questions of one or two before the session starts.

Make each training session unique

train the trainer Glasgow Edinburgh presentation skills

There was a phone-in on Radio 5 Live last month on the subject of the decline in UK concert venues.

One caller claimed he was at the first ever Oasis gig at the Boardwalk in Manchester, 1991.

Over the next hour, seven people texted in with seven different accounts of having been at the first Oasis gig.

The trouble was, they all cited different venues.

For 27 years, they’d been telling their friends and family they were all at the first gig, yet at least six of them were wrong.

We love to feel we’ve been part of something unique.

For your presentation, this takes far less time than you’d imagine.

All you need is a fresh start.

Train the Trainer tip: link to a topical news story to make a fresh, relevant point early on.

Encourage challenges

If you really want someone to adopt something new into their life, encourage them to challenge you.

Ask questions, debate a point, even describe why they’re uncomfortable doing it.

Chances are that if they raise their point in a group setting, they’re up for the debate.

Now your job is to turn them round.

At the very least, ask them to ‘throw themselves in’ for the day and see how they cope with the new skill.

This works incredibly well if you’re confident enough to host a short debate around the table.

It’s gold dust for audience engagement.

Train the Trainer tip: let people know before you begin that you encourage debate

Create a clear Call to Action – and stick to it

At the end of the training, ask your audience to do something.

Be specific.

“Keep doing what you’re doing”

is vague.

“Knock on my door with any questions, and I’ll answer them”.

Now you have to live up to that, of course.

Be visible and allow your audience to feel that the training will continue after the seminar has ended.

Train the Trainer tip: have just one clear Call to Action. Here’s why

Be the last person to leave the room

train the trainer Glasgow Edinburgh presentation skills

Whenever we finish a session at our Glasgow studios, I’m always careful to make sure I hang around until the last person is ready to leave.

They’ve given you your time, so you can give them theirs.

Rushing off at the end gives the impression you were there to do a job.

Hanging around and shaking people by the hand as they leave shows that you care about them, as well as the training.

Train the Trainer tip: take five extra minutes to answer people’s questions, even if it means missing your train. People will appreciate it hugely.


If you’d like to find out more about our Train the Trainer sessions in Glasgow, Edinburgh or beyond, simply ask.


Andrew McFarlan is the Managing Director of Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can view his full profile here.


Photos by Edwin Martinez1 / CC / CC BY-NDfreschwillCC BY-SA; all on

20th September 2018 Featured in: Blog, Communication skills training blogs By:

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