Tag Archives: train the trainer

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. http://www.screenr.com/

4MAT Train the Trainer: The balance between Watching and Doing

In the Mastering Training Design program, we explore the differences in how learners process information. When we “watch”, we make sense of new information through reflection. We ponder the meaning and listen to our inner voice. When we “do”, we make sense of new information through action. We take action and move out into the real world.  Some of us prefer to linger in watching and some of us prefer to move quickly to doing.

The trainer’s role is to guide the learner through this movement from inner reflection to outward action.  The 4MAT model outlines specific steps that address what the trainer does and what the learner does to create this movement.

Here’s a quick 4MAT video I created in response to questions our last group of trainers posed about how to address watching and doing in training design:


Training Design from an Experiential vs Thinking Place

Last week, I facilitated our Mastering Training Design course. In this 4MAT train the trainer workshop, one of the things we explore is the difference between sharing information from an experiential (feeling) place versus a thinking (intellectual) place.

By the second day of this course, participants are digging in and developing their own training designs using the 4Mat 8-step model. Before we work on the real-world course content that participants bring with them, we ask the trainers in our workshop to create a training design on one of two community awareness topic: “be physically active” or “quit smoking”. I am amazed at how quickly trainers can move into designing truly experiential learning. Designing experiential learning involves much more than adding activities. It is the art of eliciting and, sometimes creating, powerful personal experiences in the learner.

I discovered a video created by the Sussex Safer Roads Project on Nancy Duarte’s blog. The commercial is a powerful example of how an experience can be created in seconds. When I watched the video on my living room couch, my 6-year old asked “What’s wrong, Mommy?” You should know that I can be moved by a good dog food commercial. Emotional reaction is not uncommon in my living room. Even knowing this, I was surprised by the universal reaction of the trainers in the room. 

Before you watch the video, take a look at the slide presentation below that I found on www.slideshare.net. This is a typical way that any trainer might approach this subject from a “thinking” place. Then, watch the video and experience what information sharing feels like from a experiential/feeling place. 

Sharing information from a “thinking” place:

Sharing information from a “feeling” place:

4MAT Train the Trainer: 3 Activities for Practice

In the 4MAT model for training design, there are four parts of the learning cycle that the trainer leads the learner through. In the third part, Practice, the trainer is focused on building learner skills that directly link to the desired business impact of the training course.  Let’s take a look at what is happening in this step:

4MAT model: practice

Source: McCarthy and O’Neill-Blackwell, Hold On, You Lost Me! Use Learning Styles to Create Training that Sticks, ASTD Press, p 25.

In Practice, the trainer invites the learner to move into application of the information presented in Share. The learner is doing and the trainer is observing and coaching. Activities that encourage the learner to apply, adapt, practice and/or problem-solve work in this part of the learning cycle.

Here are some examples of activities that fit well in Practice:

  1. Craft a Story vs Report a Story
    Objective: Reprocessing activity which requires learners to develop a story around the information being shared. Learners are divided into two reporting groups: creative story-telling and “just the facts” reporting.
  2. At Your Finger Tips Resource Guide
    Objective: Participants will build a personal, reference guide of the content using index cards and a ring binder.
  3. The Law of Three
    Objective: Action planning activity which encourages learners to identify 3 key learning focuses and plan specific actions around these ideas.

Download the facilitator guide with complete instructions:

4MAT Train the Trainer: 6 Interactive Training Activities for Engage

What does a great opener to a learning experience look like? The 4MAT design model defines four critical parts of the learning cycle:  Engage, Share, Practice and Perform. What does success look like in Engage? First, let’s look at what it is happening in this critical step of the training experience:

Part of the 4MAT Cycle Goal Learning Climate Learning Method You know  it’s effective when: Trainer’s Role
EngageThe question is “Why?” Learners connect personally to the content being delivered. Easy, open and inviting; focused on listening Dialogue, discussion and reflection Learners are sharing personal and meaningful insights related to the content. The learners are engaged and ready to learn. Facilitator

Source:  McCarthy and O’Neill-Blackwell, Hold On, You Lost Me! Use Learning Styles to Create Training that Sticks, ASTD Press, p 25.

How do we, as trainers, create the desired climate? What kind of activities should we use to generate insights and create meaningful dialogue. Here are 6 activities that work with any content.

1.       Expectations (or Big Questions) Exercise

Ask learners to reflect on their expectations for the course. In small groups, have teams share their expectations. Prepare  a large flip chart on a visible wall. Record all responses. Link responses to the agenda for the day.

2.       Expectations Exercise (Elearning)

You can lead an expectations exercise in an online course. Using a whiteboard with a numbered grid, assign participants to write expectations in an assigned grid section.

3.       Timelines

Using a visual timeline, learners plot experiences that have shaped their perception or current understanding of the content being shared.

“Think about the people, events and experiences that have shaped your definition of effective leadership. On the timeline, make note of these events and be prepared to share in your table group.”

 4.       The One Thing

Show “The One Thing” clip from the movie, City Slickers. Encourage participants to reflect on:
-The one thing which, if accomplished, would generate the biggest results.

-The one thing we should be talking about today.

-The one question which,  if answered, would make the biggest impact.

5.       Partner Interviews (Elearning)

In the chat, participants interview an assigned partner with the task of discovering key areas of interests and past experiences around this topic. On the whiteboard, partners write down what they discovered about their partner’s interests in the course topic. 

6.         Visual Metaphors Ask the participants to create a visual metaphor which relates to the concept using an item in the room. For example, if you are teaching a course on leadership development, you might choose the concept of “empowerment”. Learners will reflect on “empowerment” and pick an item in the room that illustrates the concept of “empowerment” to them. A learner might choose a light bulb in the room (“illuminating the way”) or a cup of coffee (“energizing others”) to share their understanding of the concept.

You can download the facilitator guide here:   

4MAT Train-the-Trainer: How Learning Happens

A learner’s preferences indicate where the learner lingers in the learning cycle. Regardless of learning style, every learner moves through all four stages of the 4MAT learning cycle. In The Art of Changing the Brain, Dr. James Zull shares that there are four stages of the Learning Cycle:

  Neuro-speak Translation
1 We have a concrete experience. Something happens
2 We engage in reflective observation and create new connections. We watch and reflect.
3 We generate abstract hypotheses. We think about it.
4 We do active testing of hypotheses, have a new concrete experience and a new learning cycle ensues. We move into action, something happens and the cycle begins again

 4MAT Training model

4MAT and learning styles

When we follow the 4MAT Learning model to design and deliver, we craft experiences that mirror the natural learning cycle.

Training Assessment: 3 “On-the-Way” Tools

Last week, I joined the ASTD Baton Rouge chapter to share a quick icebreaker on  4MAT Learning Styles in their “Show Not Tell” conference. Fellow speaker, Kent Blumberg, showed us how to assess the learning transfer before the learning is complete. This is referred to as “formative” assessment. In our 4MAT Train the Trainer programs, we call this “On the Way” assessment. On-the-way assessment is in-the-moment and provides the trainer with an opportunity to adjust, as needed.  Here are four easy-to-use  ideas shared by Kent:

One Minute Paper

Provide participants with an index card. In one minute, answer the following two questions related to the content shared:

“What’s the most important idea shared?”

“What questions do you still have?”

The feedback shared allows the trainer to assess if the big ideas are clear. The questions shared can be divided into two categories: “moving forward” or “moving backwards”. Moving forward questions indicate that the learner is thinking about what’s coming next in the learning process. For example, “How can I apply this to….” is a moving forward question and a good sign that the learning is on track. Moving backwards questions indicate that the learner needs to revisit content previously shared. For example, “Can you explain what you mean by ….?” is a moving backward question that indicates content needs to be revisited.

Application Cards

Provide participants with an index card. Encourage participants to write down two ideas for implementation of the content shared. Ask participants to partner up and share their application ideas.


At the end of a  learning module within a larger course offering, you can use RSQC2*. Encourage participants to complete the following reflections:

Recall:  Brainstorm key words or phrases of what you recall from this course. Choose three to five main points,

Summarize:  Using as many of these 3-5 points, write a summary sentence that describes the essence of what you learned.

Question:  Jot down one or two questions that remain unanswered, at this point.

Connect:   Explain in one or two sentences the connections between the main points today and the overall objectives of the course.

Comment:  What I enjoyed most (or least) about this session was….

Please share strategies you use to assess learning “on-the-way” in the comments below.

*Kent Blumberg shared the following source for this exercise:

Angelo, T.A & Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques. (2nd ed., pp. 344-348). San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.

Frequently Asked Rapid E-learning Questions

Last week, I attended several train-the-trainer sessions at ASTD ICE 10. One session allowed time for  participants to share best practices on elearning training design. One of our 4MAT design team’s favorite elearning resources is the Rapid Elearning Blog by Tom Kuhlmann of Articulate. I was surprised to find that many training designers in my best practice sharing group had not heard about Tom’s blog. If you are dipping your toe into elearning or deeply immersed, you will find value in the tactical tips that Tom shares.  Here is a recent post on “Frequently Asked Rapid E-learning Questions”:


Tom has graciously agreed to conduct a free web session for the 4MAT Community. Stay tuned for announcements on dates through our eletter , Twitter or Facebook.

Increase Interactivity in Training Using Text Polling

This week, I headed to Chicago to share the 4MAT approach to integrating needs analysis with training design at the ASTD International Conference and Expo. The rest of the time, I had the chance to attend some great train the trainer sessions. Mike Fredericks of Farmers Insurance Company led a session titled Fast and Furious: Creatively Building High-Impact Training. Mike had some great ideas to share on increasing interactivity in training delivery. Mike opened the session by introducing us to the Poll Everywhere tool (www.polleverywhere.com). Before a training session, you can load up polling questions on the site. Participants can answer poll questions by texting responses with their cell phones. In Mike’s session, the entire audience was participating in text-based polling in minutes. Lots of fun!

live audience polling image

4MAT Train-the-Trainer: 6 Ideas for Improving Lecture

In our 4MAT Train the Trainer live and web classes, we facilitate an exercise where each of the four learning style groups gives examples of painful learning situations particular to their style. As many of you already know, the 4MAT Type One Learners appreciate relevance and meaning in a learning situation. Type One’s will tell you that it is painful when there is absolutely no dialogue or any sense of personal connection to the content or the group.. Guess what all four styles find painful: boring lecture.

I think we all know this, which explains why two of the most frequent questions we hear regarding lecture are:

-How do you make lecture interesting?

-How long is too long?

On his blog (which we love) Dr.John Medina shared the following:

“Peer-reviewed studies confirm my informal inquiry: Before the first quarter-hour is over in a typical presentation, people usually have checked out. If keeping someone’s interest in a lecture were a business, it would have an 80 percent failure rate. What happens at the 10-minute mark to cause such trouble? Nobody knows. The brain seems to be making choices according to some stubborn timing pattern, undoubtedly influenced by both culture and gene. This fact suggests a teaching and business imperative: Find a way to arouse and then hold somebody’s attention for a specific period of time.”

Personally, I think a 20-25 minute lecture is ideal. If we subscribe to the idea that at each 10 minute marker, we need to shake things up frequently. Here are some “shake and bake” strategies:

Images-Images trump words every time. What image activity might you use to compel, intrigue and provoke the learner? Visual Explorer tools are excellent for this. What about a video clip or metaphor? There are plenty of free video sources out there.

Chunk-“Well-organized” is the key criteria in evaluating lectures. Learners describe painful lectures as “wandering”, “disorganized” and “all over the place”. Chunk the information into the big ideas. Introduce the big ideas and the organization of the lecture at the beginning. If you are using powerpoint, set up the structure for the lecture visually in the first few slides. (More on this in a future post-stay tuned).

Weave –a good lecture weaves together all the topics around a central concept. Make sure everything you deliver is shared in connection with everything else. Think of each piece of information as a thread and the overall lecture as a tapestry.

Stories-We learn in the context of human experience. Stories are containers for information. A well-crafted story packages up the information for the learner to store effectively.

Interactives-Active processing during the lecture can extend the time limit of attention. Think about incorporating “teach-backs” or partner shares throughout the lecture.

Powerpoints-. Powerpoints are not tele-prompters. Minimize the text-one phrase or sentence that captures the essence of the message is enough. Make sure the image aligns and reinforces what you are saying.