Category Archives: trainer tools

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

coaching questionsIn our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses, we often hear trainers share how difficult it can be to focus and sustain learner attention. Let’s explore how you can use 25 Coaching questions to focus the attention of the learner during the 4MAT Practice step. First, let’s explore why questions are important in the coaching process.

The neurons in your brain communicate with each other through electrochemical signals. These signals are triggered by incoming sensory information. What you notice and pay attention to over time shapes the neuronal connections in your brain.  In the article, A Brain-Based Approach to Coaching, Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D., shares:

“The questions you ask of your brain significantly affect the quality of the connections it makes, and profoundly alters the patterns and timings of the connections the brain generates in a fraction of a second. Now, substitute the concept of ‘attention’ for the phrase “the question you ask,” and you get the statement “Where you focus your attention, you make connections.”1

If you want to create sustained behavioral change, you must generate focused attention on the behaviors that must be executed consistently to generate the desired training result. In the 4MAT model of instruction, the third part of the learning cycle is “Practice”. In this step, the learner applies the content and the trainer moves into the role of “Coach”.

The questions the trainer asks in this step should be aimed at focusing the learner’s attention on the quality of the practice application of the content being learned in the course.  To help you increase your inventory of coaching questions, here is a list of 25 Coaching Questions you can use to focus the learner’s attention during practice training activities:

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

1. What worked?
2. What could have worked better?
3. What do you notice about your application?
4. If you were your own coach, what coaching would you give yourself on this?
5. How could you turn this around?
6. What are three things you would improve?
7. What would you do again?
8. What would you not do again?
9. If you were a customer, how would you evaluate your approach? Your results?
10. What are three actions you might take to apply this with different results next time?
11. On a scale of 1-10, where is your application?
12. What would it take to move from a 5 to a 9?
13. Where are you comfortable? least comfortable?  Why?
14. What can you learn from this?
15. How else might you approach this?
16. What do you notice?
17. What could you pay more attention to?
18. What themes do you see showing up in the work of the group?
19. What differences do you notice in your application and others?
20. What one behavior (or thought) if executed consistently would make the biggest difference in your application?
21. What insights have you gained through this practice?
22. What do you think you should do first? next?
23. What would you do if it was entirely up to you?
24. If you saw someone else in this situation, what would you suggest that they do?
25. If you weren’t holding anything back, how might this look differently?

What other questions would  you add to the list?

1David Rock and Jeffrey M, Schwartz, M.D. Journal of Coaching in Organizations,  2006, 4(2), pp 32-43.

What’s the Concept?

We have talked about the concept of your 4MAT training design before in the blog. Recently in a train the trainer workshop, I was having a chat with a new-to-4MAT trainer who had some questions about how to get started in defining your concept. Here’s a quick video I created on defining your concept:

Remember, effective training concepts are:

  • Core, essential ideas.
  • Form bridges that link the learner’s experiences to the content.
  • Have immediate relevance for the learners.
  • Establish relationships between topics.
  • Act as a thread that weaves all the content together

The 4MAT online train the trainer course is an easy way to learn how to apply our 8 step design model. We invest a great deal of time on this critical part of the design process. As one of our recent training participants shared, “When you nail the concept, you immediately create a “wow” factor.”

By the way, if you haven’t already discovered Screenr, you should check it out. You can create short videos in no time.

10 Powerpoint Tips for 4MAT Training Design

The use of images is an integral part of the 4MAT training design process. We are constantly on the hunt for new ways to maximize the impact of the visual training tools we have at our disposal as trainers. In our 4MAt train-the-trainer workshops, powerpoint is often declared to be one of the most “painful” learning strategies.

Powerpoints should serve to punctuate knowledge sharing through high-impact visuals. We frequently look to graphic design and visual media artists for inspiration. Garr Reynolds is one of our visual design heroes. Check out his Top 10 tips for Powerpoint design.

Trainer Questions to Create Movement

“Shift in how we perceive the world occur because what we experience changes the questions we ask. Seeking answers to questions we have never asked before changes our brains so we can practice differently and thereby craft new experiences.”

Coaching with the Brain in Mind, David Rock and Linda Page 

In our 4MAT Train the Trainer programs, we explore in depth the power of artful questions. Questions drive the learning process. The questions we ponder serve as the filter for the information and experiences that come at us. We pay attention to the information that is relevant to the questions we are seeking an answer for and disregard the information that is irrelevant. When we shift the questions we are asking, we reshape the filter and what was previously irrelevant suddenly becomes relevant.

Trainers can easily shift the learner’s attention by reshaping the questions the learner is asking. We do this through the questions we seek to answer in our design and the questions we pose in our delivery.

In training design, there should be one overarching question that is being explored. In 4MAT, we call this the “Essential Question”. What is the point of the learning process? What is the question we are seeking an answer for? In the 4MAT Train the Trainer program, 4MAT 4Delivery, our essential question is: “How does the trainer’s delivery approach impact the learner’s experience?”  All of the content and practice in the program is designed to explore the complexity of this question.

In training delivery, the questions are crafted to move the learner along the learning process. Before delivering the course, the trainer should craft questions they will use to transition the learner through the learning process. A trainer also needs a “toolkit” of questions to pull out when the learning process needs to be stimulated. These “toolkit” questions are independent of content-you can use them in any learning situation. Here are examples of some of our favorites:

What are the themes showing up in this conversation?

If you could focus on answering only one question, what would that question be?

That’s interesting, can you tell me more about this?

How does this idea connect to your experience?

What did you notice about this experience?

Did you notice any familiar patterns in yourself or within the group?

What would you predict from?

How would you adapt this to…?

What would you predict from…?

What has worked in the past?

Feel free to share your favorites–what questions do you use to lead the learner to the next step in the design 

How would you adapt this to…?

What has worked in the past?

Comments: Share your favorites–what questions do you find yourself using frequently to lead the learner to the next step in the learning design?

Meaning Part 3: Effective 4MAT Subject Matter Expert Interviews

In our 4MAT Train the Trainer programs, trainers often share that editing content is often one of the most difficult design tasks. The key to extracting the core concepts from a subject matter expert lies in the trainer’s ability to move the subject matter expert back down the “competency spectrum”. When we look through the lens of 4MAT, we can see four distinct areas where distinctions between expert/high performers and novice/low performers show up:

Engage-4MAT Quadrant 1-Appreciation

What differences exist in the appreciation for the content’s value between the expert/high performer and the novice/low performer? What does an expert have an appreciation for that a novice does not?

Share-4MAT Quadrant 2-Knowledge

What knowledge does the expert/high performer possess that the novice does not? What does the expert/high performer understand?

Practice-4MAT Quadrant 3-Skill

What tactical skills does the expert/high performer possess that the novice has yet to develop? What do they do differently?

Perform-4MAT Quadrant 4-Adaptation

What differences exist between the expert/high performer’s ability to adapt, innovate or overcome barriers to implementation?

The following questions represent the types of questions you can use to determine the key concepts underlying content, as you begin your 4MAT training design. You can use these questions with subject matter experts or with senior leaders requesting training to improve performance:

1-What does someone have to have a strong appreciation of to do this well? If you had to sum this up in a word or two, what would it be? Was there ever a moment when you had an “aha!” around this and suddenly it all made sense? If so, will you share this with me?

2-What does someone need to understand to do this well? Of everything you shared, what is most important? If someone were to get “all caught up in the details” around this content, what “big picture” might they miss? When you picture how this fits together, what image comes to mind?

3-Where do most people struggle in applying this? If you were assigned to give someone feedback on applying this, what would you look for? If you were watching a high performer and a low performer applying this side-by-side, what differences would you see?

4-What kind of situations would require someone to get creative in applying this information? Where might the “wheels come off of the track”? What advice would you give someone to help them prepare for the barriers they might run into when applying this content? If this training program were 100% effective, what behaviors would you observe in the participants? What results would you see?

In the next installment, we will explore the process of defining the concept for your training design.

An Exclusive Web Workshop with Susan Scott, best-selling author of Fierce Leadership

We were thrilled when Susan Scott happily agreed to facilitate a web workshop for our learning community. In this one-hour workshop, Susan shares the key ideas from her latest book, Fierce Leadership, including the 6 Worst Best Practices.

In the 4MAT model, there are four roles that a trainer plays when delivering a learning experience: facilitator, presenter, coach and evaluator. Fierce Conversations offers strategies for building skill as a facilitator, coach and evaluator. Each of these roles require the ability to see what’s underneath the surface and call it like it is. Watch the Fierce Leadership, featuring Best-selling Author Susan Scott video.

Free Content: Wiimote Whiteboard

In 2007, Johnny Chung Lee began working with Nintendo’s Wii system’s Wiimote. He discovered that the $40 wiimote could be used to create low-cost, high tech devices that rivaled much more expensive components. If you have ever lusted after an expensive whiteboarding tool, take a look at what Lee created with his wiimote:


Word on the street is that Lee is working on a low-cost version of the infrared pen.  Has anyone created one of these?