How to Write Training That Works: 6 Essential Tips

How to write training that worksWriting training material is a specialized job. But often, in a small business, nonprofit organization, charity or similar circumstances, there isn’t the budget to bring in a specialized supplier. Here’s the HTWB solution…

…and so, please welcome our new columnist, Jackson Rawlings – he’s here to share some incredibly helpful tips on how to write training material that will be a wow in your job, business, community, hobby or other project.

Over to Jackson…

At Silicon Beach Training, one of our most popular courses is Train the Trainer in which we guide those looking to get into training or teaching on how to construct training material to the level expected by Silicon Beach and others.

Our Train the Trainer trainer, Anne Cannings, has years of experience in this area, so I decided to ask her to share her top tips for writing training material…

1/Make sure material reflects the learning outcomes

It’s all well and good being able to communicate your points and being able to explain things thoroughly, but if it isn’t the stuff the delegate wants to learn, you’re doing things wrong.

Planning is of the essence – have as much of a dialogue as possible with the delegate(s) prior to the training in order to determine their goals, and make sure that any promotional material about the course clearly states what the outcomes of the course will be.

As long as the course material matches up with the client’s needs and the predetermined course goals, things will work smoothly when it comes to the session.

2/Make it easy on the eye

Training sessions can be long and arduous and let’s face it, depending on the subject, a bit dull! Engaging delegates is the hardest thing a trainer must do and so any techniques that make it easier are golden.

When the training material is easy to look at, you’re less likely to end up with a delegate whose attention wanders  – and you’re more likely to be able to point out individual sections quickly.

Lots of white space is the key. Have plenty of space between paragraphs (which should always be kept short and sweet), have clear headings and embolden key words.

However, the best way to make the material stimulating and decent to look at is to:

3/ Use lots of visuals

HTWB Training 001 picCharts, graphs and images can transform a mildly interesting page into something instantly engaging.

At heart many of us are still kids –we’d rather look at the pictures than read the words. Combined, they actually improve focus on the specific section of text as well as helping to clarify the points.

Colour is also a powerful tool when used in the right way. Use:

  • Blue to promote professionalism and knowledge
  • Green for calm concentration
  • Yellow, Orange and Red for grabbing attention

Think about what you’d prefer to read – a colourful, image-laden page or a huge block of text. It may work for novels and journals, but when it comes to training material, it’s all about the visuals.

4/ Balance theory with opportunities to discuss and practise, so learners can relate it to their own knowledge or situation

This is particularly important. It’s all too easy to get carried away and write material that fills the whole allotted time of the course. The problem is that it becomes a lecture not a training session, and there is a distinct difference.

You should keep a balance between creating a sparse course lacking in substance and one that allows for no back and forth.

Factor in discussion time, Q&A sessions and even ‘reflection’ time, whereby a delegate can spend a few minutes absorbing the information.

5/ Have different types of exercises and materials to appeal to different types of learners

We all learn differently; some of us prefer to listen intently, others are more interactive. If you’re unsure what kind of learners you’re dealing with, this Edutopia test is particularly useful.

With writing, knowing your audience is essential and when it comes to training – your audience will likely be a mixed bag.

That means working in time for various techniques like using music, video, physical activities, memory games and group discussions, all of which target different learning styles.

While you can’t please all the people all the time, by varying the types of material you use, you can certainly please all the people some of the time.

6/ Clearly identify why this material is relevant or useful

The final tip and I can’t stress this enough: as a trainer you need to spell out each point in detail and explain why it’s necessary to learn it.

As humans, we’re stubborn old things and if we get it into our minds that something is pointless or irrelevant, we’ll switch off.

I remember an old physics teacher of mine who use to say after half of his points ‘but you don’t need to know that for the exam’ – one of the more frustrating things you can hear after taking notes on something for 20 minutes!

Eventually, we just switched off to anything he said that wasn’t in the text book, which is not the best result for a teacher.

The thing is, had our physics teacher explained to us as he went why it’s good to know a particular point, we would have been more engaged and open to what he had to say.

The same goes for training; make it clear to delegates why it’s important to know each thing – it makes your actions appear justified and makes them feel like they’re not wasting time.

It doesn’t end there

These points are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to constructing great training material but they provide a fantastic base on which to begin working.

So remember:

  • Match material to goals
  • Make it easy on the eye
  • Use lots of visuals
  • Balance theory and discussion time
  • Vary the material to appeal to varied learning styles
  • Pinpoint why information is important
How to write training that works

Jackson Rawlings

In my upcoming articles, we’ll be looking at specific training topics and what’s unique to writing material for each one.

Thanks to Anne Cannings for her tips, and catch you all next time!


Jackson Rawlings
Digital Marketer
Silicon Beach Training

Meanwhile, train yourself to write even better… (instant downloads)

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
The MAMBA Way to make your words sell“…how to think  your way to superbly successful sales writing
“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

photo credit: Sister72 via photopin cc




  1. Thanks so much for that Jackson – it’s a great introduction to general training and a good basis on which to build more specialized training material. I’m looking forward to reading you upcoming articles and learning from them, as I’m sure plenty of our readers are, too.


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