Designing a Training Course

Here is how to design a training course:

Select Training Topic

Get out a piece of paper. Brainstorm topics for a training course. After a 5 minute brainstorming session, start crossing out topics you find less favorable such as ones you find unpractical, of low demand or those you find you are not very capable of delivering. This step would be even better of you do it together with someone else. He or she can provide you with an additional perspective in which topics can be of interest.

After narrowing down the brainstormed topics to a list of 2 or 3 topics, select one of them to design a training course around.

Set Training Objectives

After selecting a topic for your training course, write down a list of objectives you want participants of such future training course to be able to accomplish. To help you out, write 3 subheadings to group the objectives under. These 3 subheadings are as follows:

  1. Information: List essential pieces of information that you would like participants to learn.
  2. Skills: List the various skills you would like participants to gain or improve.
  3. Behavior/Beliefs: List the behaviors you would like to change in participants and which beliefs you would attempt to change in order for such behavioral patterns to change.

For more information on coming up with training objectives check out Developing Training Objectives. When setting training objectives, make sure also to keep in mind The 3 Core Objectives of Training. If you are designing a training course for a specific corporate client you may also like to learn how to uncover training needs.

Develop Training Elements

After writing down a list of training objectives, be they informational, skills based or a set of behavioral changes you would like to make in participants, now you would have to decide on how to accomplish each of those objectives through the training.

  1. Information objectives can be achieved through storytelling, slides, direct instruction, as well as group activities.
  2. Skills based objectives can usually best be achieved by solo exercises, pair work and group activities.
  3. As for behavior changes, they can be made by changing participant beliefs through storytelling, reflection, showing a video as well as group activities.
designing a training course

Designing a training course

For each training objective, it is a good idea to list one or more elements to accomplish it. It is also worth mentioning that every training element (video, group activities, storytelling …) may have more than one function at the same time and help achieve more than one training objective simultaneously.


By deciding on a training topic for your training course, setting objectives that cover the 3 categories of information, skills and behavior related to the topic of your training course then deciding on one or more training elements to achieve each of those training objectives you have listed, you now have a training program designed to achieve specific results. Make sure you also achieve The 3 Core Objectives of Training through icebreakers, recap, breaks and other activities.

After completing the design of a training course with all its objectives and training elements, give the training course a spin by actually delivering it and getting feedback from participants. The feedback and your own reflection on the training course after delivering it will help you further hone the training program by adding new elements, removing other elements and modifying yet others. The loop keeps repeating as you go ahead in deliver your training course and rising in a continuous upward spiral towards a better designed training program that has real impact on participants and is fun to attend at the same time.


Engaging Participants with Storytelling

Training of Trainers

I was once delivering a training of trainers course. One of the participants was already an experienced trainer who was herself delivering training of trainers courses yet decided to attend my training to see how I delivered that course. During one of the sessions of the course, I asked participants to provide a brief 10-minute demo of workshops they are preparing. That participant, who is already a trainer, raised her hand to have a go at providing a demo of her workshop. I allowed her other colleagues to take turns first then signaled to her to come present her demo.

Incomplete Story

She came and stood in front of her colleagues with great confidence, briefly introducing herself by mentioning her name then mentioning the title of her workshop. She then proceeded directly to telling a story related to the subject of her workshop. It was an actual story that had taken place long ago and contained powerful lessons within it.

The assigned 10-minutes for the demo came to an end and I signaled to her to stop. She had not completed the story and wanted to continue. I told her that time was already over. Many participants pleaded and begged me to let her continue with the story she had started. They were so eager to listen to the rest of the story to know what happened next. Nevertheless, I refused her extra time so that she would learn how to manage her time better next time despite the many pleadings I got from her colleagues who had been following her story with full attention and deep engagement.

After she went back to her seat, I praised the technique she used during her demo which was storytelling. I pointed out to participants of the training of trainers course the fact that they were fully engaged with the story she was narrating and how they were dying to have her continue it. This experience showed everyone how engaging storytelling can be.

Lasting Effect

Storytelling is a very powerful technique that can be used by the trainer during a training session not only to deeply engage participants but also to achieve a deep lasting effect and induce a strong learning experience. The human mind is designed to handle stories exceptionally well in terms of attention, retention, digestion, reflection, deduction and later practical use of the information in and deductions from such stories.

Types of Stories

The most effective kind of story is one the trainer has experienced himself and was part of. The second best are real stories the trainer had heard or read about. A third type of story, still very effective, is fictional stories that make a point or provide specific lessons.


No matter what the training is about, a competent trainer can make good use of the storytelling technique to achieve deep engagement of participants and a strong and lasting learning experience. A trainer may even allow and encourage participants to use storytelling themselves during their presentations or as part of other training activities during a training session.

Is there a story that has changed your life after you listened to it or read about it? Tell use about it.

Overcoming Trainer Fear

One of the major obstacles facing new trainers is their fear of facing an audience. They are afraid that some unexpected situation might arise during the training which they might not be able to face. They fear that some difficult participant might misbehave and they won’t be able to deal with such a situation. They fear to face a large audience. They fear of losing control of the class.

All such fears of starting trainers are legit. A further fear of starting trainers is the fear of making mistakes during training.

Making Mistakes

First of all, new trainers must know that it is totally OK for a trainer to make mistakes during training even for experienced trainers. Attempting to deliver training that is absolutely free of any mistakes whatsoever is not realistically possible and actually puts too much strain on the trainer making it difficult or even impossible for him to deliver training effectively.

Difficult Situations

Secondly, novice trainers should be aware of common difficulties that might face a trainer during a training session and learn how to deal with each, such as dealing with difficult participants, handling difficult questions and knowing what to do when the video projector is not working or the flip chart is missing.

Armed with such knowledge and the knowledge that it is OK for the trainer to make some mistakes during training, a trainer can enter the training room with lots of confidence.

Gradual Practice

As for the part related to fear of facing an audience, this can be overcome through repeated practice first by speaking in front of friends and family members then in front of larger and larger groups. This activity done repeatedly and gradually helps greatly increase trainer confidence.


An additional method to build trainer confidence is through visualization. A trainer can start imagining himself delivering the training session and answering trainee questions one day before the actual delivery of the training. This visualization technique is very powerful and helps boost trainer confidence. The beauty of this method is that it can be done at any time and in any place without the need to get an actual audience. It is also considered the safest environment to practice in.

Through repeated practice and visualization combined with the knowledge of dealing with difficult situations and the flexibility to accept making mistakes, a new trainer can start climbing up the ladder of ever growing confidence.

What other methods can be used to overcome shyness and fear of facing a live audience?

Trainer’s Self Feedback Notebook

The Self Feedback Notebook

If there is one thing that has continually improved my skill in delivering training it is the self feedback notebook. After completing each training course I sat down with a pen and my self feedback notebook trying to squeeze my brain and come up with any comments or discoveries I had for the training course I have just completed delivering.

I write my comments or feedback in the form of points after writing at the top of the page the name of the training course and the date. The process of writing down my comments and discoveries from the training course is mentally demanding and brain intensive.

Fresh Feedback

It is best to carry out this process right after the training course is complete preferably even on the same day when everything is still fresh in your mind. Waiting for a few days after the training course has been finished may make you forget and loose a lot of the valuable comments and lessons learnt during the training course.


After completing the list of points I then go through them once again this time writing +ve or -ve next to each one of them to identify if it is something I did good during the training or something I should be changing.

Repeated Courses

Even if I am delivering the same training course once again but to a different group of trainees I made a new listing in the notebook for it with its own set of comment points.

Refreshing Memory

Before delivering a new training course I found it to be extremely useful to have a look in that self feedback notebook to refresh my memory on positive and negative things I had done while delivering previous training courses.


I have later typed what was in my notebook on computer then grouped similar points together and condensed everything after analyzing all the self feedback points. This has become the backbone of my training of trainers course and the knowledge base for my training.


Finally, sharing such knowledge that I had gained through the years with others completes the loop of learning for me and helps me improved even further.

Beyond Trainee Feedback

It is important to note that the self feedback points should not be confined to feedback you get from trainees in the +ve and -ve sheets but expanded to your own personal observations and discoveries as you deliver the training course. You can even write such self feedback points before looking at the feedback sheets from trainees.

Your Turn

Finally, I would like to advise you to start a self feedback notebook of your own and expend the needed effort it takes to write in it after each training course you deliver in order to keep developing and rising as a trainer in a continual upward spiral.

How do you keep record of your own performance during delivering training or of lessons and insights you have gained from the training process?

Overcoming Novice Trainer Fear of Facing a Live Audience

Trainer Fear

One of the biggest obstacles a new trainer faces is overcoming his or her shyness and fear of facing a live audience and standing in front of trainees to handle and manage a training session. Usually a person who faces such a challenge in an extreme way, to the extent that it prevents him or her completely from being able to take the move and stand in front of an audience, usually such a person is afraid that he or she might make a mistake.

Negative Ideas

All sorts of negative ideas jump in his or her mind such as that he will be asked a difficult question that he will not be able to answer or that one of the trainees would make a disruptive behavior or that the trainees would break out of control completely or any other extreme negative thoughts.

Mistakes are OK

The first step to solve this issue is to understand and fully believe that it is totally OK for a trainer, be he novice or experienced, to make mistakes during training. The trick is to be able to act in a confident way even in case of making a mistake. The knowledge of this idea and the belief in it puts down a huge burden from the shoulders of such would-be trainers and provides them with a great deal of calmness.

Difficult Situations

Being aware of the various difficult situations a trainer might be facing, such as the ones mentioned above, and learning how to deal with them also makes the new trainer more confident in entering the training room and carrying out the training.


After changing the flawed belief that a professional trainer never makes mistakes during training, an additional technique to build trainer confidence is through visualization. One day before delivering the training session the trainer can start visualizing himself or herself actually delivering the training session, answering trainee questions, dealing with difficult participants and speaking in front of the audience with confidence. When the actual time for the real session comes, the trainer will find himself full of confidence and will be able to deliver the training well.


Practice makes perfect. The more the novice trainer attempts to practice facing a live audience the better he would become and the more confident he will be. He can start first with facing people he knows well and facing small groups then building up to larger groups of total strangers. Using this protected environment approach can help the novice trainer overcome his fears and gain the needed confidence to face a live audience.

Controlled Anxiety

Finally, the novice trainer should understand that it is totally OK to feel some anxiety and nervousness prior to delivering a training session in particular if he is about to deliver it to a new audience at a new place and the training course is a new course that he is delivering for the first time.

This never means that such a trainer is not competent. The only important thing is that the trainer in such a case is able to keep such anxiety internal and not make it show to the outside audience.


By understanding that it is OK for a trainer to make mistakes during the training or feel anxious prior to the training and by using visualization a novice trainer can learn how to overcome his or her shyness and fear of facing a live audience.

What is the most difficult situation you can imagine facing during a training session?