Welcome to Trainer Tools

Trainer Tools is a podcast for Learning and Development professionals.

For more information on what a podcast is, and for details on how to listen and subscribe, please click here.

Scroll down to see the latest episodes in the series.

SDI in learning and development: what it means and how to use it

I have found SDI (Strengths Deployment Inventory) to be a really valuable tool in leadership development, despite my being a skeptical curmudgeon about most of these workplace psychometric tools.

What convinced me was partly personal – I felt it offered valuable insight into my own self (not a pretty sight) – but also because of the impact I’ve seen it have within the training room. I’ve used it mainly for leadership development, so that’s my main experience, and I’ve seen many people (not everyone) find it really useful in not only raising self-awareness, but more importantly giving them a roadmap for strengths development that remains true to their authentic self.

In the podcast Simon Gallon talks through the basic theory and its wider application within L&D, in particular in teambuilding and leadership development activities.

It’s another long one, but it’s good stuff.

Here’s a link to the visual SDI material, including an index so you can see when we talk about each part of the theory in case you need to revisit parts of the podcast.

 

Simon Gallon


Simon Gallon is the Managing Director of PSP UK (Personal Strengths Publishing) and a member of PSP Inc.’s Board of Directors and is an expert in the application of all SDI (Strengths Deployment Inventory) related products and services … read more about Simon here.

Who’s afraid of SMART objectives? You don’t need to be

SMART objectives

I’ve never been a big fan of SMART objectives. I accept there is wisdom in the acronym, but I think the process tends to eclipse the most important things about performance objectives: they should provide clarity, challenge and motivation, and when delivered they should add value to the organisation.

I made this point in a previous podcast (The secrets of accelerated learning: what’s your objective? with Krystyna Gadd) and was contacted by Garry Platt who disagreed with some of what I said and wanted to mount a defence of SMART.

So that’s what this is … an extra podcast challenging some of the content of the previous one, with a screeching parrot in the background.

Here’s a link to Garry’s SMART objective descriptions.

Here’s a post I wrote a while ago on this topic: SMART objectives can be really DUMB.

Here is a link to Garry’s podcast on an alternative to SMART objectives for circumstances that don’t fit well with SMART.

 Garry Platt


Garry Platt is an experienced training consultant with more than 30 years experience in the business. He has worked with a number of international organisations helping them to enhance their approach to training and development … read more about Garry here.

The secrets of accelerated learning: what’s your objective?

Learning Objectives

A few months ago we chatted with Krystyna Gadd about her Five Secrets of Accelerated Learning, and in this podcast we drill down into the first and most important of those: writing learning objectives that link to the business strategy and the objectives of the learners.

A good learning objective isn’t about restricting flexibility or limiting exploration, it’s about providing focus: answering the “so what” question before it’s even asked.

Apologies that it’s a bit long, but when you get talking about this sort of thing it can be hard to stop!

 

Krystyna Gadd


Krystyna Gadd is a leading authority on accelerated learning and its application in the UK. She has been training trainers since 2008, through CIPD professional programmes and her own workshops. She has published a book “50 ways to Accelerate Learning”, … read more about Krystyna here.

Transactional Analysis for trainers (part two): understanding transactions

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I welcome back Garry Platt to continue discussions on his specialist subject: Transactional Analysis.

Transactional Analysis, or TA, is a theory of how humans interact with each other – its main application being to help understand human behaviour and communication: each interaction between people being called a “transaction”. It was developed by Canadian psychiatrist Eric Berne and has been a tool in the trainer and coach toolbox for many years in helping us understand ourselves and our own interpersonal behaviours, but also understand those of others.

In this episode Garry talks about “Transaction”, and this builds on the first podcast “Transactional Analysis for trainers (part one): understanding ego states” that you should check out before listening to this.

Garry has also blogged about this on LinkedIn

 Garry Platt


Garry Platt is an experienced training consultant with more than 30 years experience in the business. He has worked with a number of international organisations helping them to enhance their approach to training and development … read more about Garry here.

TT Shorts: The Family Game: a fun way to split into groups and create energy

It’s been a while since we did a short episode and I’ve had this one in the can for a while, so I thought I’d edit it up and put it out.

In this episode, I welcome back Seema Sarawgi who talks about a simple way to split larger groups into smaller sub-groups for activities. There are lots of ways to do this that are more interesting than saying “1, 2, 3” that can be fun and energising, can break down barriers and can lead into content or fit with teambuilding themes.

Here are the feeds to the podcast:

 Seema Sarawgi


Seema Sarawgi is a Learning and Development professional with around 8 years of experience of working with both public and private sectors in India and the UKread more about Seema here.

 

Training can be a tough and lonely business – so look after yourself!

The life of a training facilitator is not as glamorous as it might seem to the casual observer.

There’s a lot of travel, but that just means a lot of time in airports or stuck on long and boring motorways. L&D professionals don’t typically travel in hot air balloons with personal menservants called Passepartout – the budgets rarely stretch that far.

It’s not just the solitude of travel, it’s the loneliness of being in a group of learners in a workshop, but needing to keep distant from them. We encourage social learning and network building, but we’re the guide on the side not another member of the gang.

It doesn’t stop there!

Often we’re associated with change, and change is sometimes bad news, at least for some of the people … and even if not, we’re in the business of challenging people, pushing them out of their comfort zones, perhaps even asking difficult questions that make people think. We might even cause all sorts of trouble by demanding manager involvement or by challenging cultural aspects that might be getting in the way of learning.

Claire Simmons is an expert in offering career advice – and not just how to make your CV look nice. Her organisation (newfuture.me) works with people on personal wellbeing and the emotional side of career change, redundancy, and picking the right options for the future.

In this podcast she talks through her approach and how we, as L&D professionals, can apply the same techniques to help look after ourselves.

Claire Simmons


Claire Simmons is one of the Managing Partners of the career management consultancy newfuture.me. Her HR career began almost 20 years ago and over the years, delivering training and coaching colleagues has played an important part of her roles … read more about Claire here

Want to see performance transformation from your training? Do action planning!

Time is running out and you’ve got so much more content to squash in to the training course … what can you do? Easy, just drop the action planning session you have penciled in for the end of the day!

According to Emma Weber, expert in learning transfer and author of two books on the subject, this would be exactly the wrong thing to do.

In this episode – the longest Trainer Tools podcast by a country mile – Emma explains how action planning done well can be the key tool in ensuring knowledge and skill acquired on a training course is transferred into the workplace and drives real life proper performance improvement!

Maybe I should have split this up into two parts, but there didn’t seem to be a natural break … so I didn’t. I know it’s long, but I think it’s worth it!

This is a Trainer Tools Essential Podcast

 

 Emma Weber


Emma Weber is the founder of Lever – Transfer of Learning and developer of the Turning Learning into Action™ (TLA) methodology. Emma’s firm belief, and the platform on which she has built her successful global business, is that the key aim of learning in the workplace is to create tangible business benefits … read more about Emma here.

Do we plan too much? The role of improvisation in training delivery

I am not the world’s best at planning, and probably wouldn’t rank very highly at following a plan either.

I’ve often felt that this was a weakness – I know it’s also a strength (I am good at thinking on my feet and coping with change), but it’s also true that it mightn’t be such a bad thing to plan ahead and perhaps stick to a schedule every now and again … so, when Paul Levy proposed talking about the role of improvisation in training delivery, I was rather excited!

In this podcast he talks through his approach to improvisation, what it means, how we can develop the skills, and his own examples of improvised activities that have worked well, and – because it’s in my nature to ask – times when it hasn’t worked so well!

Here is the link to the Applied Improvisation Network as mentioned in the podcast.

 Paul Levy


Paul Levy is the founder of CATS3000, a change and innovation company that helps people and organisations to realise potential and thrive. He’s worked with individuals and organisations all over the world for the last twenty years to challenge mediocrity, and to open space for change and transformation … read more about Paul here.

How to create an effective training evaluation strategy

Evaluation is the most neglected part of the L&D cycle.

My guess is that this is because most people in L&D prefer to be in training rooms or designing workshops, or creating transformational strategies to allow individuals and organisations to reach their potential … I’m getting carried away now … the point is that few of us get excited about the subject of evaluation.

Merle Van Der Voorde was no exception, and wasn’t exactly thrilled when asked to deliver an evaluation project for the various learning and development courses, programmes and other activities on offer.

However, like most things, the more you know about them, the more interesting they become and in this podcast Merle shares the strategy and approach she used, and talks through some examples from her organisation.

Click here to see the training evaluation resources mentioned in the podcast.

 

Merle van der Voorde


Merle Van Der Voorde is a Senior Learning Advisor at the Dutch Academy for International Relations. At the Academy she focuses on informal and social learning, evaluation, intercultural exchange and security and defence topics … read more about Merle here

How to write your own stories and use storytelling for teambuilding

Stories are the oldest and best way of passing on information in an engaging and memorable way.

They are a key tool in learning, and a nice break from PowerPoint and flip charts, and they can be used to make things easier to remember, to raise a particular issue for discussion, to challenge the way people think, and to make learning easier to transfer back to the workplace.

We don’t need to rely solely on real things that have happened either – although real life stories are really good – we can write our own stories too. Sometimes this might be because we don’t know a relevant true story, but often there is value in an obviously fictional account – think how much we call on famous fictional situations as real-life metaphors now: everything from Shakespeare and Star Wars to Monty Python. Fictional stories can be used to illustrate ideas in a meaningful way that everyone understands.

In this podcast I talk to Samantha Mathis about her use of stories and how to write your own stories for training courses and other learning events. She also talks about using storytelling as a powerful teambuilding activity, allowing teams to raise and discuss issues in a fun and engaging way.

 

 

Sam Mathis


Samantha Mathis is Regional Head of Learning & Development for the Americas region for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. She has more than 15 years experience in leadership and learning and organizational development to realize improvement and change … read more about Sam here.

Five secrets of accelerated learning

Accelerated learning is a term that is oft heard, but not oft understood, and even less oft applied effectively.

It’s not just about playing some music, putting a load of fiddly toys out, and then forcing delegates to flip chart stuff for hours, there’s more to it than that.

In this episode, I talk to accelerate learning expert Krystyna Gadd about her five secrets of accelerated learning: five areas that need to be considered to ensure that a learning event takes full advantage of all the benefits that accelerated learning can bring.

The only problem is that we went on too long, so I decided not to inflict an hour-long podcast on the poor listener, and instead split it into two halves.

This is a Trainer Tools Essential Podcast

 

Krystyna Gadd


Krystyna Gadd is a leading authority on accelerated learning and its application in the UK. She has been training trainers since 2008, through CIPD professional programmes and her own workshops. She has published a book “50 ways to Accelerate Learning”, … read more about Krystyna here.

Using social networks to reinforce learning

With so much great content available freely online, why would anyone bother paying for a training course? It’s almost like people can go round learning stuff, willy-nilly, without us learning professionals getting involved at all!

Obviously that would never do, so what can we do to rise to the challenge of technology?

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Larry Reynolds about his ideas for the future of the training facilitator, including his experimental use of social networks and online communities to help reinforce learning.

 

Larry Reynolds


Larry Reynolds is managing partner of 21st Century Leader, a consultancy that helps managers to have courageous conversations. We believe that courageous conversations are the key to high performance organisations where people love to work … read more about Larry here.

TT Shorts: The Paper Tower: a quick and simple teambuilding tool

In this short extra episode of the Trainer Tools podcast series, I talk to Seema Sarawgi about a simple but effective technique she uses in teambuilding events.

The Paper Tower is very simple to prepare for and run, and can be used as a quick way to get people talking and moving about, or to develop deeper learning around teamwork, planning, communication and leadership in the context of the organisation.

Here are the feeds to the podcast:

 Seema Sarawgi


Seema Sarawgi is a Learning and Development professional with around 8 years of experience of working with both public and private sectors in India and the UKread more about Seema here.

 

How to run an activity based assertiveness workshop

Some things come up again and again in learning needs analyses, whatever the organisation, whatever the circumstances, and “assertiveness skills” (or something similar) is one of those things.

It crops up in the middle of loads of different structured training courses, it forms part of many coaching relationships, even pops up on teambuilding workshops from time to time. It seems like many of us human beings just aren’t naturally that great at being assertive in a positive way, we tend to be either naturally passive or naturally aggressive, and struggle to calibrate assertiveness correctly.

In this episode, Kevin Stephens talks us through his approach to running an assertiveness workshop. As always with Kevin, it’s a very practical and active approach that I hope has some good ideas for others facing the same learner needs.

 

Kevin Stephens


Kevin Stephens is a Learning and Development practitioner who specialises in helping people get the most of their working relationships by delivering bespoke management and leadership programmes. He has a large well of experience, gained from over 20 years working in senior management … read more about Kevin here.

Practical approach to fun and effective teambuilding events

Many managers are keen to create great teams, and there’s no better way to do this than ask someone from the training department to come along and deliver a teambuilding day!

This is true of internal and external training providers equally, and although a teambuilding session can be truly effective and a lot of fun, it can also be an enjoyable waste of time, or even a total disaster.

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Paul Tizzard, author of The Teambuilding Pocketbook, about his approach to teambuilding events and how to make sure they are valuable, effective and fun.

(Click here for more information on Belbin’s Biscuits – discussed at length during this podcast.

This is a Trainer Tools Essential Podcast

 

Paul Tizzard


Paul Tizzard has been a professional trainer since 1996 and independent since 2001. He is a trained presenter, coach and facilitator. Since becoming independent, he has been fortunate to work in many different countries with an eclectic range of industries and companies. … read more about Paul here.

What does it mean to be a great training facilitator

Most of us working in learning and development get involved in training delivery. This usually involves a bit of teaching and a lot of facilitation.

We work this out over many years. Maybe we start by giving PowerPoint lectures, and only over time, as we learn more about our craft and gain in confidence, are we able to take a step back and focus on the process and a lot less on the content of training sessions.

This is facilitation: the management of the process that allows learning and understanding to emerge from discussion, activity and feedback.

I’ve been doing this for years, and I think I’m pretty good at it – but like many other trainers (or facilitators), I have no theoretical foundation to understand what I’m doing or how I could do it even better.

In this discussion with Nick Eve, he explains the theory that underpins great facilitation, and shows how this leads to effective facilitation behaviours.

This is a Trainer Tools Essential Podcast

Click here to see some visuals that relate to content discussed in the podcast

 Nick Eve


Nick Eve specialises in developing people’s facilitation skills. His work is all about developing people’s ability to run groups professionally and effectively. He has been doing this since 1994. Before that he worked as a facilitator in organisational development. His fascination with groups and the role of the facilitator in enhancing their effectiveness has grown out of his own experiences, both with organisations and also from his group psychotherapy background read more about Nick here.

Turning your classroom training course into an online programme

More and more people are turning to the Internet for training opportunities.

Face to face courses are expensive, often in inconvenient locations, and at fixed times in the distant future that may not suit your requirements.

They survive because they’re often very good. You get the opportunity for social interaction and discussion, key factors in creating knowledge and understanding, and it’s a very engaging experience away from normal work so you can focus and get on with it … but the drawbacks mean that sometimes an online option is better.

Online learning in quick and easy to access, cheap, flexible and covers a massive variety of topics.

In this episode I speak to Bogdan Vaida about how he has taken his training courses and put them online, creating a suite of learning opportunities and amassing thousands of students – and a steady income – in the process!

Here are the links to Udemy and Coursera as mentioned in the podcast.

 Bogdan Vaida online training


Bogdan Vaida burst onto the training scene in 2009 using extremely old PowerPoint presentations. Luckily, 2 years later he switched to experiential training and learning by doing, methodologies that he practiced devotedly into all of his training. … read more about Bogdan here.

How to handle cultural diversity in the training room

Cultural diversity can be a real minefield.

It’s very easy to put your foot in it and say or do the wrong thing, making learners feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.

It’s so easy to think of ourselves as culturally neutral, the normal one in the middle, but our own culture is stamped all over how we deliver training and the way we engage with our learners.

There are many aspects to cultural identity. It could be about communication style, about different assumptions and understandings of appropriate respectful behaviour, about things that can or cannot be said, about approaches to issues like hierarchy, age and gender. People might find your carefully planned activities to be deeply inappropriate, or maybe they find it difficult to challenge others or be open to challenge themselves, making your heated debate segment fall a tad flat.

All of this cultural diversity business puts a host of precarious obstacles in your way. You want them to engage with the course and the other learners, you want them to enjoy the experience, and of course (most importantly) you want them to learn. They won’t do this if they feel threatened, unsafe or insulted because of some avoidable mistake or miscommunication.

Sunita Sehmi is an experienced coach and trainer with years of experience of working in a multicultural environment. In this podcast she takes us through her methods and top tips for handling cultural diversity in the training room.

Sunita has also written an article on this subject for Internations magazine and website (Ten Tips for Leading a Multicultural Team)

Here is a link to the book mentioned in the podcast (“Hostage at the Table” by George Kohlrieser)

 Sunita Sehmi


Sunita Sehmi is a Certified Executive Coach, Consultant, Speaker and Trainer. She is of Indian origin and was born in London before moving to Geneva in 1992. She has a Psychology degree, specializing in Occupational and Developmental Psychology and a Post Graduate certification in the Development and Training of Adults from the UK. She also has a Masters in Human Resources, Coaching and Career Management from HEC University of Geneva … read more about Sunita here.

TT Shorts: The Clapping Exercise – an icebreaker that cures hair loss!

I didn’t want to leave a big gap over summer, so I thought I’d chuck in another short podcast about a simple energiser, or icebreaker (it can be either, or both) that anyone can use on any course.

It’s not just an icebreaker though, it also has positive health benefits (see here), including preventing hair loss! Something I wish I’d known about a few years ago.

Seema Sarawgi explains how she uses this and how it’s a simple, fun and energetic way to start a training day.

Here are the feeds to the podcast:

 Seema Sarawgi


Seema Sarawgi is a Learning and Development professional with around 8 years of experience of working with both public and private sectors in India and the UKread more about Seema here.

An alternative to SMART objectives for behavioural stuff that’s hard to measure

It is a rare performance management training course that doesn’t include the ubiquitous SMART acronym within it – and it is a rare organisation that doesn’t demand its people create a yearly clutch of SMART objectives to meet the needs of their performance management process.

And that’s the problem.

SMART objectives are often written to meet the needs of the process – not the people – they are written to fulfill the requirements of the clever acronym, but not actually to respond to the particular challenges of the individual job holder and their manager.

This is a long-running bugbear of mine, and it was good to hear that one of this podcast’s great supporters and contributors, Garry Platt, had encountered exactly that problem during his consultancy work.

As good as they sometimes are, often it’s just very difficult to write SMART objectives: it’s not only hard to articulate the specific behaviour, it’s next to impossible to create an appropriate measure that doesn’t just tot up something numeric that’s vaguely related (but not very important).

However, we’re made of strong stuff on the Trainer Tools podcast, and just because something is difficult is no reason not to do it! So in this episode Garry talks me through his approach to what he calls behavioural objectives.

Trying to SMARTify your objectives need never ruin your life again!

Garry has also blogged about this on LinkedIn.

 Garry Platt


Garry Platt is an experienced training consultant with more than 30 years experience in the business. He has worked with a number of international organisations helping them to enhance their approach to training and development … read more about Garry here.

Getting creative with ways to transfer learning back to the workplace

R equals e to the power of minus t over s.

Or, to put it another way, people forget about 80% of what they learn on a training course.

That might not be exactly true, Ebbinghaus’s research and “curve of forgetting” equation is not the most rigorous of science, but it’s probably true-ish and that’s good enough for this podcast!

In this episode I talk again to Roger Greenaway, an expert in experiential and innovative training methodologies. We talk about what “learning transfer” really means, and then discuss some unusual and creative ways of designing training courses so that learning transfer is more likely to occur.

 Roger Greenaway

The example Metaphor Map discussed in this podcast can be found here.

Further materials about the content of this podcast can be found on Roger’s website here.


Roger Greenaway is a specialist in making experience-based learning more participatory, dynamic and effective. He does this by training facilitators in the skills and techniques of active reviewing (debriefing), what he calls “the game after the game”. … read more about Roger here.

Why bother breaking ice? (And if you do, how to do it properly!)

Human beings need to feel comfortable to be able to learn.

To feel comfortable within a group they need a sense of acceptance and control. To build rapport with other learners and the trainer, they need to go through rituals.

Icebreakers can help us do that.

However, they can also help us achieve the exact opposite. If they are not well designed for the course content and the group they can make people feel uncomfortable and wish they were anywhere else but in your training room!

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Paul Tizzard, author of three books about icebreakers, about how to make sure they work!

 

Paul Tizzard


Paul Tizzard has been a professional trainer since 1996 and independent since 2001. He is a trained presenter, coach and facilitator. Since becoming independent, he has been fortunate to work in many different countries with an eclectic range of industries and companies. … read more about Paul here.

TT Shorts: The Magic Lamp – a tool for teambuilding events

I thought it’d be a bit of fun to chuck in the odd short podcast at random intervals (this might stretch the definition of “fun” to breaking point) in a new sub-series of casts called TT Shorts.

This is the first one, from our old friend Jon Kersey, and it’s a quick and easy technique you can use during teambuilding events.

I found it quite inspiring, and it’s made me think of combining this with storytelling in a slightly different way than Jon describes – that may be the content of a future cast (once I’ve tried it out and seen it work!)

Here are the feeds to the podcast:

Jon Kersey


Jon Kersey has over 15 years experience in the training and personal development world, significant experience of the retail (The Burton Group, Comet and River Island), financial (HSBC) and public sectors, and international experience having trained in organisations in South America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe … read more about Jon here.

A creative and visual way to start Change Management training

How we begin learning events is vital in setting the right tone for the day.

To get the best learning, we want to create a creative a safe environment that is fun and allows for people to express themselves playfully, allows for mistakes, lets people feel that they can challenge and be challenged, and above all exposes the learners to views and perspectives different than their own.

There is no one single magic bullet for achieving this, it’s done through lots of little things that together contribute to building that learning environment.

In this (short!) episode I speak to Kevin Stephens about a simple technique he uses to kick off change management training. Kevin’s whole approach to training is to focus on creating the conditions for learning using accelerated learning techniques, and in this episode he introduces us to a quick and way to start that process off.

 

Kevin Stephens


Kevin Stephens is a Learning and Development practitioner who specialises in helping people get the most of their working relationships by delivering bespoke management and leadership programmes. He has a large well of experience, gained from over 20 years working in senior management … read more about Kevin here.

Three ways to use stories to bring your training to life

Great training is built from many different component parts.

It’s not just PowerPoint and flipcharts, or days of building bridges out of matchsticks and glue. Training is a mix of content and reflection, of channels and methods, carefully designed to keep energy and interest high, to be engaging and enjoyable, to challenge assumptions and make people think, and to give useful practical take-away actions that can be applied in real life.

Stories are a useful addition to that mix.

Stories are memorable, they’re fun, and they can be used to help break down barriers, build relationships between the trainer and the delegates, and to help establish credibility.

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Larry Reynolds about three different ways he uses stories during his training events.

Larry Reynolds


Larry Reynolds is managing partner of 21st Century Leader, a consultancy that helps managers to have courageous conversations. We believe that courageous conversations are the key to high performance organisations where people love to work … read more about Larry here.

How to get more from training activities using Active Reviewing

Debriefing training activities is so important.

The debrief is where the learning is explicitly discussed and related back to whatever models and theories are being used. It’s where people reflect and think how to apply the learning in their own workplace. It’s an opportunity to discuss and share experiences and opinions.

Yet it’s often just a low energy plenary discussion that excludes most of the people most of the time.

Useful, but a bit of a letdown after a fun and engaging activity.

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Roger Greenaway about “Active Reviewing”, his method to not only keep the energy, enthusiasm and inclusion high during the debrief, but also to dig deeper and maximise the learning opportunities from training room activities.

Some learning happens in the training activities, but there’s a whole lot more learning that can happen in the review process

Roger Greenaway

This is a Trainer Tools Essential Podcast

Roger has written an article “4 Active Reviewing Methods and the Active Reviewing Cycle” about this interview.

 Roge Greenaway


Roger Greenaway is a specialist in making experience-based learning more participatory, dynamic and effective. He does this by training facilitators in the skills and techniques of active reviewing (debriefing), what he calls “the game after the game”. … read more about Roger here.

Transactional Analysis for trainers (part one): understanding ego states

In the eighth episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I welcome back Garry Platt to begin a series of casts on his specialist subject: Transactional Analysis.

Transactional Analysis, or TA, is a theory of how humans interact with each other – its main application being to help understand human behaviour and communication: each interaction between people being called a “transaction”. It was developed by Canadian psychiatrist Eric Berne and has been a tool in the trainer and coach toolbox for many years in helping us understand ourselves and our own interpersonal behaviours, but also understand those of others.

We’re going to do a whole series on this because it’s such a broad and interesting topic, so this is just the start of something!

In this episode Garry talks about “Ego States”, the first building block in understanding the theory. This is also really useful as training course content for courses on topics such as assertiveness and communication skills.

Garry has also blogged about this on LinkedIn.

 Garry Platt


Garry Platt is an experienced training consultant with more than 30 years experience in the business. He has worked with a number of international organisations helping them to enhance their approach to training and development … read more about Garry here.

Breaking ice and building rapport: three quick and easy techniques

How much effort we put into the very first part of training courses, in breaking the ice and building rapport, can directly impact the effectiveness of the rest of the day. This is especially true if you rely on input from learners and seek to create a social environment where people learn from each other, not just the trainer at the front.

Jon Kersey always invests time here, more so than any other trainer I work with, and in this podcast he shares his three favourite techniques.

Jon argues that the time and effort invested here pays him back in terms of quality of conversations – and therefore quality of learning – that happens in the room throughout the day. I don’t always agree with Jon on this one, I usually prefer to provide content input sooner, especially on shorter courses – but it would be boring if we were all the same!

Here are the feeds to the podcast:

Jon Kersey


Jon Kersey has over 15 years experience in the training and personal development world, significant experience of the retail (The Burton Group, Comet and River Island), financial (HSBC) and public sectors, and international experience having trained in organisations in South America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe … read more about Jon here.

How to use Structural Dynamics to have great conversations

Most of how we engage with other people in the workplace, on training courses, or in coaching sessions, is based on having conversations. The quality of these conversation directly impacts our effectiveness, and as educators and coaches, our ability to have powerful conversations that help to create insight and learning is a huge part of how we succeed.

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Catherine Thomson about David Kantor’s theory of Structural Dynamics. In the podcast, Catherine explains how this theory of communication is applied to conversations in training and coaching.

 Catherine Thomson


Catherine Thomson is founder of The Houston Exchange and is also an Associate Consultant within the People and Organisational Development (POD) Division with Edinburgh Napier University … read more about Catherine here.

Successful role plays

Role plays are one of the most powerful ways to learn we have in the training room.

They’re a way to bring the various strands of theory together in a practical activity, it’s a way of turning the abstract into tangible action. It’s active, a change of pace, it allows for physical movement and engagement, it forces the learners to think and try stuff out, it helps to turn knowledge into skills.

It’s hated by almost everyone.

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Larry Reynolds about his six step approach to ensuring role plays are a success.

Since releasing this podcast I have blogged about it on TrainingZone website: Six steps to successful training course role plays

Larry Reynolds


Larry Reynolds is managing partner of 21st Century Leader, a consultancy that helps managers to have courageous conversations. We believe that courageous conversations are the key to high performance organisations where people love to work … read more about Larry here.

The Performance Gap

How do you ensure your training courses cover what your learners really need to know?

In the fourth episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Garry Platt, one of the first trainers I ever worked with. In this interview, Garry talks about his approach to learning needs analysis.

 Garry Platt


Garry Platt is an experienced training consultant with more than 30 years experience in the business. He has worked with a number of international organisations helping them to enhance their approach to training and development … read more about Garry here.

How to keep learners engaged

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I talk to Shirley Gaston about how to keep learners engaged throughout the training event.

This is Shirley’s specialist subject, something she’s been passionate about for years, In the podcast she outlines three different approaches for ensuring the delegates on the course stay engaged.

Since releasing this podcast I have blogged about it on TrainingZone website: Three ways to keep learners engaged on your training course

 Shirley Gaston


Shirley Gaston is the founder of  the experiential learning company Azesta which has been developing people for 16 years. As such, she is one of the driving forces within the company. She values openness and this quality is intrinsic to her learning programmes … read more about Shirley here.

The Collusion of Mediocrity

In the second episode of Trainer Tools, I talk to Paul Levy about his “Collusion of Mediocrity” concept.

This is an idea that can be used with both the Consultant and Facilitator aspects of the job, and is about pushing for real change in performance as a result of training interventions. It also has interesting impacts on how we evaluate the impact of training.

(And the sound quality is a bit better!)

This is a Trainer Tools Essential Podcast

Since releasing this podcast I have blogged about it on TrainingZone website: How you measure training success might be stopping you from succeeding.

 Paul Levy


Paul Levy is the founder of CATS3000, a change and innovation company that helps people and organisations to realise potential and thrive. He’s worked with individuals and organisations all over the world for the last twenty years to challenge mediocrity, and to open space for change and transformation … read more about Paul here.

The Tangle

This is the first ever episode of the Trainer Tools podcast (so please forgive the dodgy sound quality), in this episode I talk to Jon Kersey about one of his favourite energisers: The Tangle! Here are the feeds to the podcast:

Since recording this episode, I wrote about the process of getting recording it and getting the whole podcast off the ground (this was the first one I recorded) – read the article here.

 Jon Kersey


Jon Kersey has over 15 years experience in the training and personal development world, significant experience of the retail (The Burton Group, Comet and River Island), financial (HSBC) and public sectors, and international experience having trained in organisations in South America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe … read more about Jon here.

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