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What Separates Great Trainers From the Merely “OK?”


istock_000009219951xsmall4-300x214Many training participants would respond,”Great trainers make the learning easy and fun.” If probed further, they might mention the use of engaging training activities, or the trainer’s personal style.

But most won’t be able to identify an important action that differentiates expert trainers. This action is subtle and powerful. It helps lubricate the session and increases learner retention. Though mostly invisible to the untrained eye, it truly separates the “Greats” from the “OK’s.”

What is this seemingly magic characteristic of great training? It’s the use of transitions.

What are Transitions?

Transitions are verbal checkpoints. They connect disparate pieces of material and move the session forward. In using transitions, the trainer operates much like the pilot of a plane: “We’ve just gotten a good look at the Colorado River. Next, we’ll be flying over Hoover Dam.”

This verbal framing helps the participants’ brains organize all the new content they’re receiving. It also readies them to process new input.

What do Transitions Look Like?

Transitions typically have two parts, the summary and the transition statement.

  • Summaries reiterate, check for, or test key points.
  • Transitions move the training from one stage to the next.

Here are three examples of effective transitions.

A.  “We’ve just introduced (reviewed, talked about, etc.) ___________.

“Now, let’s move on to_____________.”

B.   “We’ve just reviewed ___________.  What are the _______, ___________, _____________?”

“Next, we’ll take a look at ____________.”

C. “Each of you has demonstrated that you can _____________. Now, you will have the opportunity to ________________.”

By building in transitions like these, the trainer makes the whole session flow better. There is a built-in silkiness, fluidity, and logic between chunks of content. And best of all, the trainer has the opportunity to test for participants’ understanding before moving to the next issue.

Try using a few well-thought-out transitions between modules in your next training session. You’ll be amazed at how much more smoothly the class goes,  and how much more the participants retain.


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