7 Habits of Highly Paid Trainers

Training a group of top executives at Westin Langkawi

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a successful trainer? What differentiates a trainer who stands out from the rest? Have you been trained by someone who impressed you so much that you wished you could train like that?

Did you have a teacher in school who made even a dry and boring subject interesting for you?  You might have come across such effective teachers who influenced you for the rest of your life, even to the extent of choosing teaching or training as a career.  I am an international trainer and speaker because of such inspiration from my past teachers.

The good news is that you can develop some good habits which can turn you into an effective trainer.  All it takes to become an impactful trainer is to practice and make these habits part of your routine.  The habits are: 

1. Give them a Reason to Learn the Subject

Adult learners need a reason to learn something.  Before diving into the topic at hand, make it a point to explain to your audience why they need to listen to you and learn the subject. What you teach should help them in some area of their life – career, health, relationship, happiness or finance. This may not be obvious and that’s why you have to explain it to them.  If you can get them interested or even excited right from the start, you will not lose their attention even when the topic becomes a bit heavier.


Before teaching how to become a better communicator, it is vital to explain how good communication skills can significantly help them in their personal and business lives. 

2. Understand their Needs First

Just like a good doctor will diagnose a patient’s condition thoroughly before prescribing any form of treatment, a good trainer tailors the contents to the specific needs of the audience.  By understanding the difficulties faced or objectives to be achieved by the people you train, you can develop and deliver much focused content.  This will make your training extremely effective and you will become highly sought-after.

You can speak to the participants to determine training needs before working on your content.


Interview a team leader to highlight issues faced by his people.  Subsequently, you can talk to members of the team to get an idea of how they can improve effectiveness.  Next, develop your course based specifically on the identified needs. By doing this, apart from gaining their respect, you will become a true problem-solver. 

3. Involve them, don’t Lecture

A good trainer’s job is not to solely give information to trainees.  Unfortunately, many trainers rely only on lecturing and PowerPoint slides.  The aim of any training is to transfer skills in order to perform tasks in ways that make their lives better. Skills are learned by doing them and not being told how to do them.  People learn better when more of their senses are engaged, so incorporate activities that involve them in the learning process.   Demonstrate the skills you teach and get them to try and practice themselves.


Incorporate suitable games, case studies, role plays, group work and quizzes to teach customer service strategies. Use interactive role play exercises for trainees to understand possible scenarios of dissatisfaction among customers and what they should do to handle them before things get worse. 

4. Be Knowledgeable and Prolific

Apart from knowing their subject matter well, great trainers have mastered the skills of training.  When you are able to train and help others progress in their lives, you will be able to train people on many topics. However, you should first find a niche topic and become proficient in before you learn and teach other subjects. Top trainers are known to be versatile and have a good grasp of several topics and are able to train others on those subjects


Choose a soft skill topic to master and use the knowledge you have gained in it (like communication skills or personality profiling) to help people in other subjects like leadership or team-building. With in-depth knowledge of the topic, you can be concise when you cover a new subject. This way, you can enhance and add spice by teaching something you know which is related to the topic but generally not considered part of the syllabus. In my case, I will add some tips on memory and mind mapping in my train the trainer course to show my participants how to remember people’s names.  

5. Assess Your Performance

Top trainers are extremely conscious of their performance. They strive for excellence and know that they can only achieve it by monitoring their performance and how much their participants learn. They look forward to feedback from trainees at the end of the course.  They make it a habit to update and improve their course materials, slides, activities and delivery after every single presentation so they can constantly up their game.  They don’t take chances in how the training goes and how people learn best.


Be willing to critique yourself and also accept negative feedback from trainees.  Ask your participants for honest evaluation of your delivery, material, etc. to learn and improve.  Get feedback on questions like these. How was the pace? Were my slides clear? Were any of the topics redundant? Were any of the topics or exercises boring? What can I do to make the course more engaging and entertaining? 

6. Be a Life-long Learner

Your raw material as a trainer is knowledge, which you impart to your trainees. Learning and teaching is in the blood of trainers and they constantly learn to keep themselves up-to-date in their niche.  They love to do research and are usually voracious readers. They also have a keen interest in people and how they can help people to learn more and make progress faster.


Select the best and latest books in your niche to read.  Don’t just learn ideas that are in line with what you teach but also opposing views on the subject.  Don’t see anything as negative knowledge.  This will prepare you to face difficult questions from your audience.  You can use social media to connect with other trainers and subject matter experts to remain up-to-date in your area.  You might want to learn speed reading and learning skills to save you time and effort.  Do check out https://successedge.com.my/trainings/corporate/speed-reading/

7. Plan Ahead

Proper planning prevents poor performance. This statement is critical in conducting an effective course and all successful trainers know that.  Plan your course based on the training requirements of your trainees.  You also have to plan the pacing, sequence of topics, games and activities to ensure optimum learning.  Planning should be done with only one thing in mind – helping your trainees learn the most in the shortest time possible.

Example: You organize a public course on sales. Find out who your participants are and what industries they are from.   Based on their level of competency, you might discover that some of them need telephone skills while others can gain from face-to-face presentation skills.  Gather information on their specific roles.  You can then adjust your content to suit their roles and avoid covering irrelevant topics.

Choose examples of sales conversations that are related to their line of sales from your collection. Similarly, select suitable activities and exercises which are applicable for their roles. I was training a group of salespeople from Honda and I did some research about their cars and those of their competition to help me plan my presentation better.


Skill transfer is an art and you can master it by adopting these 7 highly effective habits.  These are proven habits that have helped me in my training over the last two decades to continuously grow and improve at training others. If you are starting out in this field, you too can become better at training by developing and maintaining these habits.

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