Top 10 Attributes for an Effective Trainer: Top 10 Keys for Effective Training-Part 2/2

In a discussion I had with Thomas Moore, a top-tier developer, consultant, trainer and author, I asked him to share his 10 tips for trainers and for training. In part 1 of this two-part series, Thomas describes those attributes that have made him a well-respected trainer.

Here are Thomas's top 10 attributes for Effective Training:

  1. Effective training begins with the ability to establish a rapport with your audience. You must be able to analyze the group you are working with and come at the material from an angle they will understand and be able to relate to.
  2. As an effective trainer you must establish yourself as an expert in the field early in the presentation. Sometimes this is simply an introduction of yourself and what you do but in a classroom where the students are more knowledgeable you will need to go deeper into your background and accomplishments.
  3. Know the material you are presenting and lay it out in an orderly fashion. If you feel comfortable doing so, practice in front of a mirror or present the material to your peers. Practice your examples and demonstrations so that you know them by rote.
  4. Being able to think on your feet is an important aspect of a successful trainer. Inevitably things will go wrong in a presentation and you will have to be able to cope with the issues and work through them with many people watching your every action.
  5. Be honest with the group you are presenting to. If you don't know the answer to a question, admit it. You can always respond with: "I'm not sure but I will check into it". You gain the respect of the audience and establish yourself as a human being, not some kind of hero. Always, however make sure that you DO check into it and that you get back to the individual who asked the question.
  6. Have a purpose for your presentation. Share your expectations with your audience. Divide any presentation into segments and establish criteria for each segment that you attain with the group you are presenting. Ensure that the subordinate goals are reached by the audience before leaving a section to move on to the next.
  7. When training you must keep topics on track deviating very little from the scope of what you are presenting. You will receive queries from your audience that will provide for some minor wandering off topic but you must be able to steer the material back to the original content.
  8. One key to a quality presentation is to have an assortment of examples and analogies. It is often helpful to draw upon your own experience even when in unrelated areas. To illustrate complex concepts you must draw comparisons to a variety of easily recognizable elements.
  9. In front of the classroom you must be able to express each concept in terms the student can relate. Often this will require restating information using a more elementary perspective. When questioned you may even need to express the thought in a third or fourth manner. A great deal of patience will assist in handling this diversity.
  10. A strong finish is needed for any delivery to be successful. You must be able to summarize, restate and clarify the entire lesson in a concise manner. Using some posing queries you must analyze the audience to ensure that they have captured the material and will be able to apply the concepts learned.

I welcome your comments here or send me an e-mail at

Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P.

Comments (9)

  1. jointer says:

    Thomas, the 20 points that you have listed reads like a manifesto for teaching/training and clearly demonstrates the practical knowledge that you have gained. As someone who teaches myself, I would dearly love to aspire to all 20. I know that I will be going through the list and trying to assess myself against each one to identify where I need to be better.

    In many cases I have small classes so what I try to do within the contraints of time and the program is to customize my sessions to make it as directly relavant as possible. A good example might be if I am teaching Access or Excel, I will try and get the class to work on a much simplified version of a real world project brought by one of the students. Pre-canned examples may illustrate features but don’t hold anything like the same degree of interest, and therefore learning effectiveness.

    I also like to ask the students questions on a regular basis about something that has been covered earlier, especially in context of any new material. It provides feedback for me as to whether I am getting the message across and useful revision for the students. Some repitition never hurts when it comes to remembering!

    Many thanks for your very useful contribution.


    Graham Jones

  2. MARIE says:

    Interesting points from a trainer’s perspective. I usually find that the most effective trainers keep to topic but are flexible/dynamic enough to keep all participants (of various abilities) interested.

  3. Jing Chen says:

    Once upon a time, I was asked to teach a middle-aged lady to learn how to use Windows. So we sat together and we started up Windows. When everything was up and running, she pointed to the icons on the desktop and asked, what is My Computer?

    I said, why don’t you try it?

    So she tried different mouse clicks until the right-click popup came up. Then she looked at the popup menu options and said, what does Open mean?

    I said, why don’t you try it? You can figure it out.

    Well, you get the idea. After an hour of trials and errors under my protection, she completely figured out how to navigate around Windows, and more importantly, she realized that this Windows thing was completely within her ability and reach, and that she could figure out the basic things in the future by herself if necessary.

    So the question is, if I had "taught" and "trained" her how to navigate around Windows, could I have inspired the same degree of self-confidence and self-reliance in her? Mmm?

    Well, I think the answer is obvious. Precisely because she figured out things by herself, she gained self-confidence and self-reliance. Any "teaching" or "training" on my side would just reinforce her (false) belief that she could not trust herself to figure things out on a personal computer.

    I believe in any interaction with human beings, we need to consider the following two objectives:

    1. We need to help them to solve their immediate problem

    2. We also need to inspire them to solve similar problems or even more difficult problems on their own down the road

    In my opinion, any teaching or training approach will need to be inspected against the two objectives above.

    So from this perspective, you may be starting to see the moral of the story – I was able to accomplish both objectives with minimal action on my side. In fact, NO action except some questioning like "why don’t you try it"? Now this is strange – how can I possibly accomplish so much with so little? This sounds like a paradox, especially for those coming from a traditional model of education, where the sole objective is to transmit knowledge to the trainees.

    That is an interesting question.



  4. Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS,I.S.P., says:

    You bring up many great points Graham including linking to prior experiences, knowledge. I was brought in as a troubleshooter at two different colleges when they had teaching issues. I can search for the training materials that I created to support the training of other teachers. If there is interest, I can blog about this.


    Stephen Ibaraki

  5. Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS,I.S.P., says:

    Those are good points Marie. An effective technique is to solicit the areas of interest at the beginning of the training session when students introduce themselves. Then make a point of tailoring your topic to address a particular hot point for each student. This keeps the material relevant and the students engaged throughout the day.


    Stephen Ibaraki

  6. jointer says:

    Hi Jing,

    I like your comments about the old lady. You are absolutely right, learning by guided discovery is definitely the best. Unfortunately, economies of scale tend to intervene. Like so many things in life we end up having to compromise. I have taught in the traditional classroom situation and in the facilitator situation, which is what you describe.

    On a purely personal level, I much prefer and enjoy the latter. You can form a ‘relationship’ with the student and readily reinforce their successes, providing the confidence and encouragement towards increasing self-reliance. I have commented in a number of blogs here about the importance of creating self-reliance. Eventually it becomes a self-reinforcing process; successful self-discovery brings more confidence and so on!



  7. Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS,I.S.P., says:


    Interesting approach and it does represent one model for education. Good training and effective instruction long ago abandoned the unicast method of training—one-way broadcast with no interaction or “transmission of knowledge to the trainees”. Now it encompasses things like Blooms Taxonomy of learning, Gardner’s different intelligences, and learning orientation (kinesthetic, visual, auditory, interactive, mixed mode). You tend to get this kind of progressive training in commercial centers and in colleges but not in universities. Alverno College is making some headway and receiving a lot of attention. Also, Gates is sponsoring experimental programs that show promise. However, you must mix practicality with theory in terms of teaching methodology.

    A good exchange of ideas.


    Stephen Ibaraki

  8. Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS,I.S.P., says:


    Learning attitudinal shifts are like making cultural shifts in organizational behaviour. It can be a challenge at times and doesn’t always scale well. As you indicated, economics drives many decisions. Personalized instruction could have a better future with Web 3.0 and it’s build-out plus with the evolution of the Semantic Web. It’s worth watching for. I’m also excited about some of the things Microsoft is doing in the Live environment and this is something Jing works in. Jing any comments you can make for the future?


    Stephen Ibaraki

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