What’s the difference between good training and bad training? What’s the instructor’s role in the perceived success of a training session? What makes learners feel like they’ve had GREAT training? How can I, the instructor, take training from bad to good and good to great?

Take a moment and think back to training sessions you’ve attended in the past. This could be professional training, sports training, or educational training. Think about a training experience you remember as good training. What was good about it? Was it the content? Was it the environment? Was it the instructor themselves? I remember taking a class related to industrial power generation. I thought it was great training. The classroom setup was good, the course materials were good, and I understood the topics presented.

Take another moment and think about a training experience you’ve had that wasn’t so great. What was wrong with it? I recently attended training to become certified for certain first-aid tasks. I understood the skills being demonstrated and received my certification. I look back at this training as not particularly good training. The classroom was fine. The materials were fine. The subject matter was appropriate. As I think back on this training experience, I realize it was the instructor that made me feel like the training could have been better. I had another experience attending training regarding statistical based process improvement. Again, the classroom was fine. The classroom was great. There were beautiful views of Mission Bay, San Diego. The materials were fine. This time it was a combination of a poorly prepared instructor, with a topic that was irrelevant to my career that made me feel the training was no good. I was so unimpressed with the learning that I felt my time could be better spent enjoying the views of Mission Bay.

If I try to narrow my experiences down to a single key aspect, I would say it boils down to student engagement. I, the student, was not engaged with the training I perceived as bad and I was highly engaged with the training I perceived as good. I can say, this instructor KEPT me engaged.

Throughout my career as a Technical Training Instructor, I’ve had the opportunity to see for myself what keeps students engaged with the learning process. I’ve been able to try different instructional techniques across a wide variety learner profiles and personalities. I’ve learned through trial and error how to keep the students engaged with the learning process. I’ve figured out how to keep adult learners focused on the learning objectives during classes that are an entire week of eight-hour sessions. It’s been my experience when students are fully engaged with the learning process, both the learner and the instructor are excited for the journey. Student engagement enables both parties to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Eager students sitting on the edge of their seats, fully participating in the knowledge transfer, is what keeps us in the game.

It’s our goal to share these experiences so that others can benefit and continue to improve their training sessions.


Posted by Josh

I've been a Technical Training Instructor for over a decade, teaching a wide variety of classes across the globe. I have a passion for creating and delivering high-quality training content in a way meant to fully engage the learner. "Planet Speaking" is our version of a Train the Trainer model based on our experiences as trainers and instructional designers.

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