Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. Many of us know intuitively that making our training more interactive would be of value to our participants. We know that the key to acquiring real knowledge is only learned when it becomes one with us at a deeper level. Any yet, much training within companies is still lecture based, with numerous PowerPoint slides filled with text. The trainer often just reads that text to his bored audience – who after ten minutes, are no longer paying attention.

In addition, there is rarely any chance to put the learning into practice numerous times until competency is reached, not to mention any assessment with feedback of what was supposedly learned. It’s a scenario many company employees know all too well. And it’s a situation that educational experts have found brings little in the way of learning.

The key to effective training, and by extension, effective learning – rests upon three pillars: 1. Topic relevancy; 2. A course structure that follows the learning structure of the mind; 3. Relevant activities along each step of the structure.

How does this work in practice? First, people do not learn unless they see there is some relevance to their lives of what they are learning. So a trainer needs to show how what is being learned is relevant for the learner. Relevancy is the ignition that starts the motor of learning. Secondly, learners have a basic structure in their cognitive apparatus that requires a similar set-up in the way a seminar is taught. This classroom structure was based on the educational theories of David Kolb. He focused on holistic perspective of experiential learning and found that effective learning proceeds through a series of four stages – which many educational practitioners then tweaked and developed classroom structures along his model. They include: 1. Concrete experience (often at the beginning as a type of knowledge or skills gap-analysis. After that comes the second stage in the cycle, reflection of the experience (what is known, and what still needs to be learned. It is here that one can grow the dimension of reflection with new input, what I call 2a. After new input comes step 3 –  the anchoring of those new concepts or skills (usually through some kind of repeated practice or test). This then culminates in step 4,  in applying (active experimentation) what was learned to a realistic situation.

At each stage of Kolb’s cycle learners should be engaged with the material in some way. This may include group activities, games and simulations, or just hands-on practice with whatever is being learned.

The classroom training structure that follows this cycle is based in practical experience. It emerged from an intuitive understanding of how real learning takes place in the real world. Kolb simply made it explicit. In all areas of life, from health-care workers, home-builders, airplane pilots, bus drivers, teachers, etc., we all expect that those engaging in these activities are properly trained. And by trained we mean that they should have had lots of practice and experience, not just in theory, but in actually “doing” what they are supposed to be qualified in. And they should do it until they are competent in it. Likewise, in company training programs this should also be the norm. Training needs to become much more hands-on, with intensive practice in the topics being learned. It also needs to be tested – which not only provides feedback to the learner, but to the trainer too – who can then measure the effectiveness of his or her training methods. However, this is often not the case in numerous company training programs. There is too little practice (until competency is reached) and almost no testing whatsoever. Rather, the trainer comes in, boots up his laptop, and begins to present his PowerPoint (mostly text) slides.

At the International Presentation Academy, we offer a Train the Trainer workshop that will guide you through a step-by-step process in developing your own interactive training module. We will show you how to structure your seminar for maximum effectiveness, create interesting input methods, develop easy-to use interactive tests, as well as guide you through a hands-on approach in creating game and simulation activities.  And finally, you will create an audio PowerPoint presentation (during the workshop) that you can use as classroom input or as pre-seminar preparation for your own training.

Our Train the Trainer online seminar (or onsite in Munich) is appropriate for those who train soft skills of every kind – as well as technical skills. We will engage you with the topic from beginning to end – using a completely hands-on approach. Indeed, we employ the very methods we advocate. We invite you to join us at one of our open seminars, or contact us for an in-house quote at: or visit our website at


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