• Nonprofit Learning Lab

The Power of Investing in Yourself As a Trainer

Updated: Sep 9


Many organizations and professionals will tell you their careers turned a corner only after fully investing in themselves. That same practice applies, and is arguably more important, for trainers and educators. We have compiled the top four approaches you can take to perfect your skills as a trainer for adult participants. Your trainees and managers will thank you for it!

  1. Be a Trainee First and a Trainer Second

  2. Reflect on past experiences where you were the trainee, instead of presenting at the front. What worked and what didn’t? Plan how to set up your workshop room to match your goals. If online and using breakout rooms, have everyone already set into groups so you know who is going where. Communicate with attendees well in advance so they are prepared, and align your presentation to the technology available. Think about the projectors you may need, how much wifi bandwidth your attendees have access to, and if they need any hard or soft materials or handouts to participate as fully as possible.

  3. Investigate New Ways of Engagement

  4. This tip is especially important while organizations continue to navigate in-person, online, and hybrid experiences. Learn how to incorporate concepts of engaged and deep learning and connecting activities to learning objectives. Understand how to manage different learning styles and use a variety of different kinds of activity to challenge and more deeply engage different learners. Optimize handouts and supplemental learning tools to your group - if there are worksheet styles your organization is used to, think about whether it’s worth it to reinvent the wheel.

  5. Refresh Your Knowledge of Theory and Trainings Practices

  6. Do your research to understand how to craft learning objectives that focus on results rather than knowledge dumping. Your trainees want to walk away with new skills they can put into practice, not a list of fun facts. Assess whether or not your learning objectives match the content provided. Learning objectives are imperative for trainers and trainees alike to understand what deliverables they can expect after participating in training sessions.

  7. Understand how to develop content that is applicable from theory to concept and how to design content in a workshop so that adult learners can apply what they are learning.

  8. Understand how to develop content that is applicable from theory to concept and how to design content in a workshop so that adult learners can apply what they are learning

  9. Invest in Yourself First

  10. Your participants will want to know why you are someone they should trust as an expert on the topic at hand. Know your strengths as an instructor and lean into them. Feel more comfortable in a more chaotic environment? Plan for more breakouts and think-pair-shares for an active classroom. More confident with a set schedule? Make sure to practice your timing and leave room for transitions so you stay on schedule. Make sure to identify areas for growth in your training skills, and do your best to avoid any related pitfalls while keeping your learners’ preferences in mind. Trying new tactics you may be unsure about might be a great opportunity for you to improve!


As always, one of the greatest skills you can have as a trainer, facilitator, presenter is preparing for any outcome you can foresee. If you are prepared, you should finish any training with participants armed to implement their new skills and knowledge. To get a jump start on building your trainer toolkit, check out our Train the Trainer workshop, available virtually and in person in a city near you. This training will help equip you with skills and knowledge to further your training abilities. We hope to see you there!