When we see a great trainer in action, it’s magic! They effortlessly intertwine wisdom, passion, and have a unique gift of being able to pass on value to their audience without it feeling boring or painful.   So, what separates good trainers from great trainers? Here are the top 7 training skills that all great trainers should possess.


Great trainers will have their unique specialisation, interests and knowledge base to draw from and understand that you don’t need to be a ‘jack of all trades’.   It’s important to realise learning is always context specific and effective trainers tailor a solution which can meet their client’s requirements, using relevant business-based scenarios in context for their clients. One size does not fit all.. ever, where effective learning delivery is concerned.


This conundrum has been around in education, corporate training, HR for decades, and if the training can be isolated and linked to performance gains, easy…. but if not, then how do we measure return on investment? Conducting surveys, sending out questionnaires and assessing clients through observation in their jobs and impacts on business activities, are all useful ways to determine if you are achieving results through learning delivery. And as far as I know, there is still no easy way of doing that. The often cited Kirkpatrick model does indeed provide a useful heuristic but it’s still really challenging measure any causal link at levels 3 & 4 and I would argue you still need coaching and reinforcement in the systems to ensure an embedding of new behaviours at level 3 anyway. Keen to hear from you on your solutions.


Great trainers understand the importance of ‘soft’ training skills. Emotional intelligence, resilient thinking, self-regulation and adopting a growth mindset, will help you with developing successful and sustainable working relationships with yourself and others. Strengthen this area through developing your interpersonal abilities. These may include active listening empathic questioning skills, problem-solving, adaptability, decision making, analytical observation and conflict resolution skills. It will not only make you a better trainer, but it’s a valuable skill set to model and pass onto your clients and will aid all types of training.


Great trainers think outside the box.   Regardless of specialisation whether it be in Accounting, IT, or even Marketing, there are always ways to help you to become more creative and innovative.   It’s about looking at your training process and your client’s needs from different perspectives, trying out things even though you aren’t sure it will work and learning how to get ‘unstuck’ when you’re fresh out of ideas or you need an infusion of energy and enthusiasm. I recently introduced a lego-based simulation into one of my training workshops and in the lead up many were questioning my choice and while I had a few wobbles, I backed myself and the results were fantastic from both engagement and learning perspectives.


Great trainers love to learn! It’s like breathing air, and they recognise that learning is a continually evolving process. Their passion for ongoing development including latest insights on how they can improve, develop and grow as trainers and individuals, fuels how well they train others. By way of tips, I find the IDeL Meetup is invaluable, as well as attending learning events in all kinds of forms. TEDx Sydney, Edutech, IDEO online, Viv’d talks and shows. Board games. Sleep, exercise, HBR and BRW articles and crossing over with other work areas and specialities like marketing, design thinking, startups and digital retail all make for diverse ways of learning and staying creative in design and delivery. I’m currently fascinated by how people, AI and business will intersect and how to up my digital literacy in delivering multi-channel learning solutions. What are you learning about at the moment?


Great trainers know how to manage their time and are always looking for ways to do it better. If you look around, everyone has a full and often overflowing plate of commitments, and part of being a great trainer is understanding how to organise your time so that you prioritise and get what you need to be accomplished. Embrace efficiency, delegate those tasks that are non-essential and understand how to manage your most valuable resources – your time and energy. Lots of great advice out there on this so the couple of things I’d say does the worst task first to get it out of the way and that small daily ritual have to lead to greater positive changes rather than always waiting for that elusive dedicated block of time to “really focus”. 5 minutes of exercise or meditation every day is far more realistic for me, given my work changes every day, than “go to 1-hour class 3 x per week. How about you? How do you make sure you put first things first?


Great trainers have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.   Understanding and connecting with your clients and audience and being able to communicate your message effectively is essential for all trainers. When your audience feels that you provide value, that you are approachable and have a genuine interest in their goals and success as individuals, they will continue to be loyal.

Be your authentic best by honing your stagecraft, questioning and process delivery skills and adapt them according to whether you are delivering a keynote, training workshop or facilitating. I am at my best in a two-way training situation and least comfortable “telling” as in a keynote. While it is great to challenge my mindset around that, it’s also useful to play to my strengths. Where do you perform best on the tell to ask continuum?

A favourite quote from Aristotle has helped inform my approach to design and delivery for many years.

“The fool tells me his reason; the wise man persuades me with my own.”

What quote drives your approach to training design and delivery?