Creating a trainer's guide


Anne Bradbury, L&D Consultant Last Modified  23 August 2016

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Background information
A trainer’s guide helps you to make the necessary preparations before the training course as well as enabling you to successfully navigate your way through the training as you deliver it. On the day of the training, the trainer’s guide gives you a route map and stage direction so that you can concentrate on course participants rather than being distracted by what comes next. 

If you are running a one off programme that you have written yourself, your guide may be as simple as a few pages of notes. However if multiple trainers are going to be delivering the programme across multiple sites on an ongoing basis, a more formal trainer’s guide will probably be required.
What are the benefits of a trainer's guide?
The main benefits of a trainer’s guide are:

Preparation for the course A trainer’s guide helps the trainer ensure they have made the appropriate preparations to deliver the programme. This may include assembling all the necessary resources including equipment and materials, creating prepared flipcharts and printing hand-outs and workbooks.

Consistency of content
If you have done a thorough training needs analysis, you will have designed the course to meet agreed business outcomes and learning objectives. You cannot be sure these outcomes are achieved if different trainers deliver different content around a very loose theme. Of course, no trainer wants to be tied to a formal script which is delivered verbatim, but when key messages need to be conveyed there does need to be some consistency in delivery style and content. The goal is to seek a balance between allowing each trainer to use their creative flair and personality and providing enough guidance to ensure that all participants receive key messages and achieve agreed outcomes.

Clarity about what to do and when Having a route map for the day, enables the trainer to focus on helping participants get the most out of the course rather than worrying about what comes next. Participants will not have the best learning experience if the trainer is disorganised and hasn’t prepared a flipchart or set up the props for an interactive exercise. 

Timing Having a trainer’s guide with approximate timings for each session helps the trainer ensure that each section is allocated the time it needs. Having guidance about what needs to be prepared or set up in advance also means participants can go straight into each exercise or activity without valuable being time lost on set up.

Training the trainer programme A well-written trainer’s guide provides the basis for any ‘Training the trainer’ programme that may need to take place. If multiple trainers are running a course across multiple sites, it may be necessary to run a ‘training the trainer’ programme where everyone practices delivering the programme, gets feedback and has the chance to have any questions answered.
Step 1 - Creating a checklist
Use the Checklist for creating a trainer's guide to help you consider what you may need when you put together a trainer's guide. This checklist is intended to help your thinking rather than being used as a definitive document. It has been created with a view to creating a trainer’s guide for a course that will be delivered on an ongoing basis by multiple trainers, across multiple sites on an international basis. 

You should use the guidelines set out by your own business, if there are some available. If not, use this as a guide to prompt you to consider what may be needed. The level of detail you provide in your guide will vary according to how many times the course will run, by how many trainers. Clearly you would not create a comprehensive trainer’s guide if you are running a one off, one day course. However, you would still need to map out an overall plan to ensure you deliver a coherent, well organised programme.
Step 2 - Version control
When you are designing a course that is going to be run by multiple trainers across multiple sites on an ongoing basis, you will need to ensure that your trainer’s guide has a version control. Version control is important because you may make improvements and changes to the trainer’s guide as a result of business changes or feedback from the course evaluation process. Each trainer needs to have the assurance that they are using the most up-to-date version of the content.  

You should ensure that you follow the version control guidelines set out by your own business or you can use the Version control table available in the Support material section to help you. The version control should be summarised at the front of the trainer’s guide and put on the footer reference of each page of the document.

If you are running a course where you know the content will need to be updated at a set point, diarise a reminder to ensure you do this. For example, if you are running a finance course where you show the annual end of year accounts, these will need to be updated when appropriate. Watch out for changes in legislation, product develops and anything else that you may need to keep the course content current. Failure to keep the content up to date undermines the credibility of the programme and can distract participants from their learning.
Step 3 - Creating a front cover and contents page
Your trainer’s guide should have a front cover consistent with your company’s house style guidelines. If you have a logo and specific colour scheme for your course, this should be used on the front cover.

To ensure that your trainer’s guide is easy to use, you should have a contents page at the front with page numbers for each section.
Step 4 - Explanation of how to use the trainer's guide
When you are writing a trainer’s guide for multiple trainers to use across multiple sites, you should provide an explanation about how to use the trainer’s guide. Many organisations have a standard layout they adhere to when they create a trainer’s guide. This may include house styles for fonts, colours and writing styles along with different icons used to highlight different activities. You should check whether your organisation has a standard template and use this, if it is available. 

Points to consider
  • If you do not have a standard format to follow, consider how you will layout each section so that there is a consistency in terms of content and layout 
  • You may decide to use icons or set headings to denote different types of activities. For example, flipcharts to prepare, hand-outs to distribute, points to make or questions to ask.

Step 5 - Course outline
A course outline provides trainers with a summary of the key facts about the course. This can be used to send to participants as part of their pre-course materials (Tool: Creating engaging pre-course materials) but it is also important for providing yourself or other trainers with a big picture overview of why the course is necessary. It is useful to put this at the front of the trainer's guide to provide a context for the subsequent guide. Use the Course outline template and Course outline example in the Support material section as a guide.
Step 6 - Equipment and materials needed
Although you will probably want to list any resources and equipment needed at the front of each section of your training, it will help the trainer if they have a definitive list of everything that is needed. In this way, they do not need to keep flicking between different sections when they want to assemble all the equipment and materials they need to run the entire programme.
Step 7 - The preparation required
Once again, although you will probably want to list of preparation that need you need in order to run each individual section, it will help the trainer if they have a definitive list of all the advance preparations they need to complete at the front of their guide.
Step 8 – Writing the guide
Use the checklist provided to help you create build each section of the training programme. You can use the Sample from a trainer's guide handout to help you consider what your trainer’s guide needs to look like.

Points to consider
  • Use a typeface that trainers can read easily. Using a small font or elaborate type face may mean trainer’s loose rapport with the participants as they struggle read their notes. The guide should be set out clearly with short paragraphs and bullet points so that the trainer can see where they are at a glance.
  • Leave space for trainers to add their own anecdotes and examples where appropriate
  • If the trainer needs to refer to visual aids such as PowerPoint slides or prepared flipcharts, consider replicating these within the guide. Cross referencing to other documents can cause confusion for the trainer.

Writing international trainer’s guides

Points to consider
  • If the trainer’s guide will need to be translated into different languages, ensure that the guide is written in the simplest possible language to make translation as straightforward as possible.
  • If the training needs to be delivered across different cultures and countries, ensure that the course is adapted to meet local, cultural and religious sensibilities.
  • If the training needs to be run across different businesses within the same group, ensure that any exercises and activities are adapted to be fit for purpose.