What Makes Good Training?

by Mike Clayton  - March 12, 2014

I spent much of the last twelve years in training rooms around the UK and sometimes further afield. �Every trainer has their own approach, though not every one of them has thought through what is their philosophy of training and how their practices reflect it.

I have some clear ideas that do not wholly represent the mainstream, but I do know that they work for me and the people I train. My over-arching philosophy is summed up by:�

Make the people in the room feel smart, and also a little wiser

I will never dumb down or present less sophisticated ideas than I would want to use myself, were I in the situation my participants are in. Early in my professional training career, I was told by one assessor at a company I hoped to deliver training for (as an associate trainer) that I was too clever for their participants.

Nonsense. I felt no need to come across as any less clever, but I have spent the last twelve years refining the way I articulate my messages and design my exercises, to make sophisticated ideas easy to assimilate.

However, I digress.The question at the top of this blog is ‘what makes good training?’ There are three things, for me.


Firstly, I think great training helps participants to build connections between new knowledge, skills and ideas, and their existing knowledge and experiences.� When we make connections for ourselves, we learn powerfully and I enjoy seeing that �aha moment� in people at my courses and seminars.


Training needs to be practical. Not that I denigrate learning for its own sake in any way: it is a passion of mine. But that�s learning and education. Training applies the same skills and techniques to helping people learn new practical ways of being effective and succeeding So I always strive to make my training and seminars immensely relevant and practical to my audiences.

Rich and Authentic

I think these two things go together.� Training needs to be rich in content and experience, giving participants more than just a simple throw-away session with a few ideas they could have gleaned from the workshop manual. To do that, the training needs to be truly authentic to the trainer, based on their own real and deep experience.� I do deprecate training given by people who have �mugged up� on a subject and have no real experience to back up their content.

So… what do you think?

Now that I spend more of my time delivering seminars, I apply these same principles but to an even greater degree – I have to, because my seminars are three hours long, instead of a day of training. Consequently, I put even more time into researching and crafting my seminars, to create the connections, practicality, richness and authenticity I believe in.

What do you think makes great training or a great business seminar?

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