Delivering Training Sessions – What Role Should You Play?

You have always dreamed of a career in training and development and now you have arrived. With your TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training & Assessment certificate adorning a wall in your home, you are preparing to manage your very first workshop.

The path you traveled to reach this point was not an easy one. You skimped and saved to cover the tuition and invested long hours in classroom training and individual study. As you sit down to review the leader’s guide for the workshop, it all seems worthwhile.

On the first page, you see you will be making your stage debut with a 15-minute course overview followed by a group discussion task. And then another group discussion, and another and another.

When do you get your time to shine?
When will you have your opportunity to dazzle the seminar participants with how much you know and how insightful, entertaining, and witty you are?
Was this what you worked so hard to achieve?
Nothing more than a trained parrot that simply reads the instructions to the students and sends them off into their discussion groups?

Welcome to the modern world of business education and training. Active learning is “in,” and expert presentations are “out.” Gone are the days when seminars involved a series of slickly designed and delivered expert presentations. The role of today’s seminar instructor is better characterized as learning manager rather than knowledge expert.

Obviously, this depiction is an overstatement and somewhat of an oversimplification. Contemporary educational theory on adult learning is a part of most certification training programs. Newcomers to training and development should be well aware of the importance of active participation from the students in relevant and meaningful tasks. The role of the trainer has changed dramatically.

However, it is one thing to have an understanding of the underlying theory, but the practical implications are sometimes overlooked until that first day you stand in front of a group and wonder what it is you are supposed to do once you turn them loose on a group activity.

To answer that question you need to do something many people find difficult to do – look at yourself in the mirror and objectively assess your own attitudes towards learning in general and the role of the teacher in particular. Notice we said your own attitudes, not those you read and studied in your certification training.

While no one denies the power of an enthusiastic and energetic presentation from the seminar instructor, there is sometimes a fine line between satisfying the needs of the teacher and fulfilling the needs of the learners.

Ideally, one can achieve both, but a seminar instructor with high needs to be the center of attention may find it difficult to avoid constantly interjecting himself or herself into a group discussion once it has begun.

Truth be told, it is difficult to successfully stand up in front of any group without some need to be heard. The trick is to measure your own satisfaction from having the spotlight of attention shining on you against the learning requirements of the situation.

Are you sure the spotlight belongs on you at the moment, or might it better be shined on the group?

Dr Bryan A. West is the owner and manager of Fortress Learning
( ), an Australian Registered Training Organisation who consistently generates greater than 90% student satisfaction ratings with their range of online courses. Learn more by visiting