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The best things I learned in training: the roles of a trainer

The first corporate training program I attended was Facilitation For Results, really it was how to plan and lead meetings. But it taught me about the power of planning and using the right behaviors at the right time

Fast forward 6 or 7 years and I attended another program - Tools for Trainer Excellence - which shared the following model as part of it's introduction


In any training program the trainer is playing one of three roles. Each role drives certain outcomes and is used at different times in the session. Get them right and you have an excellent session, get them wrong... not so


Administrator. Instructor. Facilitator


The Administrator leads participants through the program’s activities. There are many elements to this role. They include:

  • Introducing activities and share desired outcomes

  • Provide instructions that are both clear and complete

  • Connect the dots when introducing an activity with the topic at hand

  • Effectively manage all activities

  • Write information and ideas generated by participants on flip charts

  • Stay on time


The Instructor ensures learners understand concepts and know how to use skills correctly. In this role you are required to:

  • Answer questions about concepts or skills

  • Provide examples to clarify learning - the more tailored to the audience the better

  • Be willing and able to model the skill being taught

  • Summarize key learning points

  • Provide balanced feedback and recognition to coach skill use

  • Use questions to verify participant understanding of the materials


The Facilitator guides learners in making discoveries, allowing them to share insights, experiences and feelings. The facilitator also discusses how learners will use their new skills after the workshop. In this role you are required to:

  • Create an exchange of participant ideas, opinions, and feelings about the program - learning is social and the facilitator enables this

  • Ask questions to spark thinking on how to apply the skill son the job

  • Surface any barriers to application learners might foresee and work through how to overcome them


What I particularly like about this model is that you can use it to self diagnose in the training room, if a session is not running as well as you want it to, you can check yourself with which role am I in right now? and which role is most suitable right now? if the answers differ you have a possible cause and next steps for an adjustment

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