Which of your trainers are bored? The 3 tell tale signs…

Posted on June 4, 2017 by Simon West

Imagine (or maybe you don’t have to imagine) sitting through a training course where the trainer is just going through the motions… It’s not good for the trainer or their company and a poor experience for the paying delegates.

So here are the three tell-tale signs that a trainer is getting bored delivering a course.

  1. Talking about themselves
    It’s important that a trainer develops credibility with their delegates, but that can be achieved in a few minutes. The trainer that is still talking about themselves 15 minutes later is a real cause for concern.
  2. Dress code starts to slip
    You have a dress code for a reason, whatever it may be. If trainers are starting to “dress down” it’s another sign that they need a change.
  3. Trainer does not interact with delegates
    This is the big one. The trainer finishes a session, the delegates wander off to get a coffee and the trainer is still sat at the front of the room ignoring everyone. If they are not willing to network and engage with delegates during the breaks it’s a sure-fire sign that their interest is waning and it’s time for a change.

26 responses to “Which of your trainers are bored? The 3 tell tale signs…”

  1. Thank you. Through your three signs it would be very useful to watch these easily visible tips of deterioration in performance amongst trainers )in our case teachers and lecturers ) and keep a better regular watch regarding the level of required performance.

    • Not sure in I’ve ever come across a trainer who talks about themselves for any length of time. And if they did I’d think it was less a sign of boredom more a sign of ego.

      As for dress code, it’s about dressing appropriately for the audience, if i was to stand suited and booted in front of a group of 20-something creatives I doubt I’d have much credibility, similarly if i did jeans and t-shirt in front of a room of ‘city-types’ I’d have the same problem.

  2. I would be careful of assuming that boredom is the only reason for these symptoms, or that all of them are necessarily problematic. A trainer can exhibit these behaviours if they are overworked and burning out, or if they are under stress due to bad management or personal circumstances.

    The dress code and delegate interaction points mentioned here are open to debate.

    Dress code needs to adapt to what students are wearing, and workplace dress codes (in the UK at least) have relaxed noticeably over the last few years. Of course you need to be neat and clean, but the days of jacket, waistcoat and tie are thankfully gone.

    As far as networking with delegates during breaks is concerned, I think you need to take the duration of the course into account. For example, by the last day of a five day course the students will be heartily sick of being pumped for sales leads, sorry, “upsell opportunities” by their trainer.

    I agree that if a trainer suddenly exhibits some or all of these behaviours that their line manager should speak with them, but I wouldn’t open that conversation with “are you bored?”.

    • Agree with these comments. As for dress code, my views have moderated over the years. I used to consider teachers wearing corduroy trousers and cheesecloth shirts as unprofessional. Nowadays I think its far more complex and potentially meaningless. I guess what I mean is, if we were in the 1950’s, dress code would be some kind of easy marker to identify something, but these days, not so much. Clean and tidy does it for me. After that it’s all about the presentation and the content.

      • Dependant on client or course.
        I teach a lot of first aid and health and safety related courses where being suited and booted wouldn’t be either appropriate or practical. I wear cargo style trousers and polo shirt. Practical and clean, interaction with the clientele is essential as you want interaction and questions to be asked throughout the sessions

    • Indeed – agree completely. There is sometimes an overwhelming drive by bigger companies to get the revenue in no matter what personal cost in burn out time is to the trainer.

  3. I am “semi-retired” and so deliver programs at intervals, hence I have time to recuperate between presentations and also opportunities to read new ideas and revisit old ones.
    Semi-retired does not mean I lack energy or enjoyment in delivering these programs again and again, but I honestly would not like to be on a treadmill without time for recharging my own energy between sessions.
    Engaging with people, even if you are quite extrovert requires enthusiasm, enjoyment of listening and exploring what makes others “tick”.
    Given that often trainers have to travel extensively, cope with a large number of unexpected snags that occur in all the administrative aspects of their work and still get up energised after a poor nights sleep, means time is needed for recuperation.
    If sufficient “down time” is not scheduled into the trainer’s program, some of the items mentioned might well occur not because the trainer is bored.

    Talking about oneself could be restated as rather sharing one’s experience and motivating to the group to get them engaged, not just establishing credibility. We know telling stories is a powerful way of getting a message across, and in my experience, delegates find these stories much more beneficial than too much theory.

    One final point is some organisations demand that trainers should present material in a “Robot” like way; i.e. limited to what is prescribed and often too much material for the time available.
    An experienced trainer will tailor the material to the needs and requests of the group and treat the demand to standardise everything as secondary. Too great an insistence on conformity, can also result in an inexperienced trainer feeling disengaged or restricted and nervous to be authentic with the group.

    • I completely agree. As a trainer myself I feel in many situations that theory can be lost and so to put the theory into context, i.e. giving some of my own experiences/stories on occasion, can illustrate the point far better. I also think tailoring the material is vital; in my role this isn’t just the case in terms of what I feel different styles of learners need but also to ensure a generic training course is bespoke for the needs of the business I’m working with too.

  4. Hi,
    Tend to agree with the latter feedback; trainers do need a break from talking and to prepare for the next session.
    Less boredom and more about how much you put into your training and as Glen said you’re sharing experiences.
    Dress code-I wear a tie to start but remove asap-simply gets in the way, mentally and physically.
    Maybe it’s the material that’s tired and bored..?

  5. Recognising the symptoms of trainer boredom is relatively easy. Finding the cause of the boredom and doing something about it is quite another matter. When boredom hit me once, I realised that I was tired of saying the same things over and over, using the same examples, jokes, and anecdotes etc. So I tore up all my training materials forcing me to create new material. This had the desired effect. I felt inspired and was therefore, again, an inspirational trainer.

  6. How can you tell when a training manager or sales person is bored?
    1. They spend more time on social media than work
    2. They chat away to their colleagues
    3. They pop out to the shops

  7. I’m not sure about the dress code issue highlighted, but would add, from our experience at TAP:
    • Delivering the session by rote i.e. no enthusiasm, passion, lack of analogies / contextualisation
    • Not going the extra mile – more than a lack of interaction, more about not building rapport on deeper levels, not ‘getting into the learner’s shoes’
    • Lack of post-course follow-up – no customer-care email, no referencing to, or sending of, further resources
    • Linguistics – laissez-faire language used concerning the content or especially toward learners’ possible concerns – ‘it’s pretty simple stuff’, ‘everyone will get this’, ‘not that big a deal’ etc. Also tonality, as an indicator of enthusiasm.
    • lack of encouragement of learners to share their stories and experience
    Making statements like: ‘This is the boring bit’ or ‘Sorry, but we have to cover this stuff’
    Trainer dismisses ideas and examples from the group
    Poor preparation, both in terms of quality and quantity
    Extended breaks, early finishes, late starts

  8. Once the enthusiasm for the subject has dwindled or gone, the trainer delivering the training often begins to sound like an audio recording machine!!!!!
    Lack if subject interest and invariably no “selling” of the subject matter in an interesting way to their audience.

    Unfortunately, I do hear and view trainers delivering courses where this subject enthusiasm has gone and here they are, going over the “old notes and PowerPoint’s” yet again……and it does simply sound like that.

  9. Dress code is a matter of YOUR brand and how YOU, the training business, feel it is appropriate to be perceived by your customers. If your trainers look like they’ve just crawled out of bed, that is between them and their employer — not an excuse to compromise the relationship between the trainer and her/his employer.

  10. Apologies. Predictive text decided that when I said … If your trainees look like they’ve just crawled out of bed…” I really meant trainers. Which rather makes the point that we need to constantly check even familiar material is really fit for purpose!

  11. Not engaging at the breaks could be a sign that the trainer is an introvert and needs a break to recharge their batteries. Not engaging during the sessions is however a different issue!

  12. Some valid points made back about the original, simplistic email, but why is this all from men so far? Needs a wider response to get better perspective!
    Overly judgemental original email from an employers, only, view!

  13. Not sure I agree that a trainer needs to interact with delegates during coffee break. Delegates need to get to know and chat to each other, and of course discuss how they feel about the training. It is important that the trainer communicates with delegates before the training begins and at the end.
    During some training I attended, the trainer did not even say hello to delegates when they entered the training room. Although he was a good trainer, I lost rapport with him, and it took a while before I could respect his experience. A trainer is training even before they begin to speak, and at the end of training. Remaining in rapport is vital. It makes for a good session.

    • Some of the best training courses I have attended as a delegate have been run by trainers who entered the room at the start of the training and weren’t seen during the breaks.

      They did stay on after the course to answer additional questions that couldn’t be answered during the sessions.

      This simplistic view of thinking you are able to spot boredom without referring in any way to the training performance smacks more of poor management of trainers than anything else

  14. Not sure in I’ve ever come across a trainer who talks about themselves for any length of time. And if they did I’d think it was less a sign of boredom more a sign of ego.

    As for dress code, it’s about dressing appropriately for the audience, if i was to stand suited and booted in front of a group of 20-something creatives I doubt I’d have much credibility, similarly if i did jeans and t-shirt in front of a room of ‘city-types’ I’d have the same problem.

  15. I do agree with some points 2 & 3 of the article, however, I find that point 1 needs to be given some context. I do believe there is a need to share (relevant) experiences which enable learners to engage with the material. This tends to create an open atmosphere to encourage further communication from members. With that said, there must be a balance so that the learner needs are always central to the session.
    Dress code is subject to the audience, the organisation and the message being conveyed.

  16. I agree with some of the other comments re not engaging with delegates in the break. I feel they need a little distance and time to reflect, discuss their experience of the training with colleagues and as a part introvert, I need time to recharge (even 10 mins helps), fix any issues, review timing etc

  17. I once entered a training room, the trainer looked at me and ignored me. Huge loss of rapport which took hours to regain as I had made a judgement. The trainer may have been busy with his notes, but creating rapport is vital if the training is to be successful. This incident was ten years ago, the training was for training people to become NLP trainers! Delegates switch off if there is no rapport, so engaging with delegates from beginning to end oftraining is vital.

  18. I deliver a very sensitive and sometimes difficult subject for delegates. Sharing my experiences where appropriate allows delegates to share their experiences. During breaks I make myself available if required otherwise I don’t seek out interaction but wouldn’t ignore or hide from them either. Breaks are also their downtime if they need. Dress code I agree should be brand focused but should also take in the audience as others have mentioned. Enthusiasm for the subject is paramount in my opinion and we should make sure we make time to do self care between sessions especially if it’s the same course over & over again.

  19. I have been a trainer for 14 years this year, on the same software. I try to make sure my sessions are always enthusiastic and engaging as the subject is incredibly dry, so I try to have fun with them. learning about NLP helped a lot, and now I do improv comedy which also allows for some flexibility. I do get bored sometimes, but that’s when I change it up. I don’t think my company would notice if I were bored as they don’t see my courses, but they’d notice if my feedback scores went down.

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