[Tips & Tools for Trainers & Training Providers] How To Create Money-Making Course Content

When one teaches, two learn. -Robert Heinlein

hands and puzzle pieces

Last week you should have received a cheatsheet on how to find and keep stellar Freelance Trainers that help you bring in the dollars. Not only did those tips help you select the best trainers to generate income but those tips show you the way to create beneficial and powerful courses for your clients by selecting top trainers.  There was a problem with the link I sent last week (so sorry about that), so here it is again just in case you didn’t get to tune-in: Freelance Trainers That Help You Make Money.

So here we are at the 2nd post of the 4-part series on how you can earn lots of money in the Training industry even when a crisis hits. So far, we’ve discussed in the other posts, the power and purpose of quality trainers and how they can be your bread-and-butter or leave your plate empty if you don’t take good care of them. If you didn’t get the chance to read that post, check it out here Don’t Let Your Training Budget Get Cut. It’s worth the read as it explains how the training budget in most companies is the first to get cut and why it’s important to focus on four (4) main topics to keep your training company in your clients’ budget even when an unexpected crisis hits. Following that post, I offered the CheatSheet on how to locate and KEEP talented and terrific trainers so you never end up scrambling last-minute to deliver an already-promised course to your clients resulting in yucky evaluations.

As a Corporate Coach and Trainer now for many years, I’ve seen firsthand which training providers offer compelling content and which ones don’t. I’ve chosen to continue to offer my services only to those training providers who allow me to customize each course I lead for them. Why? Because the results and evaluations have shown over and over again that participants love and appreciate customized content—they really feel as though the training provider listened to and addressed their needs.

The companies that create customized content with engaging workshops that include varying forms of interaction are still number one in the training industry. Nobody, not even C-suite level executives, want to sit through boring, run-of-the-mill, off-the-shelf lectures that don’t allow chances for them to share their experience and expertise.

Sadly, many training providers are not focused on content. Rather, they are operating from the place of “pushing” as many trainings onto one client as they can. When we push several courses on one client, we show we don’t really value them and are simply trying to hit a financial target. Quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality. And, we all know that if the quality is lacking, your clients won’t return. The more quality-driven courses we give, the longer the client will remain with us and the more profits we both experience in return.

So, what should customized content actually include ?

Many trainers think that if they show a few videos, do a certain amount of exercises, and throw in a few games, they’ve customized content and created a slam-dunk training. This is not the case.

After trainers have had the chance to sit down with each client and discuss the reasons for the training to be given, effective trainers will then have in mind an idea of where they’d like to take the participants by the end of the course. Additionally,  talented trainers with compelling and creative customized content will be able to plan for sidetracks and participant insights—which can be a difficult task. For example, if the trainer is leading a Customer Experience course, they should have a way to weave and thread all exercises, videos, games, group discussions and self-surveys conducted in the course back to the course topic of Customer Experience. The trainer must always be able to stay on track, not forget the goal of the course (as well as the pre-discussed objectives of the client), but also be able to include all participant comments and responses into the training agenda.

Too often, trainers enter the training room and either lecture and talk at participants or get so excited they lose direction and end up “all over the place.” As trainers, we only have 30 seconds to captivate participants and keep them invested in the training, so lecturing at participants or being all over the place are surefire ways to lose this client-relationship altogether. Let’s not have this be you and your company.

Years ago, I created what I call The Seven (7) I’s. I use this as my template each time to create crafty customized content that helps me stay on task but also ensures I’m making the participants feel heard, included, and special.

I offer Laurie’s 7 I’s to you as an informational tool and resource to stay on point and to make sure your trainers do as well.

roundtable animated workshop photo

Laurie’s 7 I’s for Creative Customized Content

1. Inform

Let’s face it, before each module or new topic intro, we have to inform a bit about what the participants are going to learn. We must clearly outline the course objectives (as given by the client) and important points otherwise our trainings are solely entertainment with no education. I usually open up each module with a few of the important bullet-points then I immediately go into a facilitated form of training by asking what they think about the topics; what they know about the topics already; and what they’d like to learn about the topics. I even ask how they wish to learn the topics. I am constantly checking-in with the participants to hear their preferences and then honor those preferences; this is customization at its highest form. Then, and this is most important, with the info the participants have given about how they wish to learn the topics, etc., I make sure to honor their requests. Constant customization is key.

2. Illustrate

I always have at least two (2) flip charts at-the-ready. If it’s possible, I have one in every corner of the room. When going over informational material in a facilitated way, I am sure to write down what each participating participant has to say. They love to see their words illustrated right before their eyes on the flip chart—and it lets them know you as a trainer truly listened to them. Additionally, I break up the group into small groups constantly—this keeps the energy flowing in the room. I send the participants to the flip charts at the corner of each room and encourage them to use the flip charts. I invite them to be as innovative, crafty, and artsy as they’d like. I ensure them that this is the time to “play,” and as such, some of the most amazing ideas are illustrated on those flip charts. Additionally, I shift their groups and teams frequently so they get the chance to experience all the members in the room. Then, I share how working with different groups illustrates the point of Teamwork or Leadership or Customer Experience of whichever topic they are learning in the class. Lastly, the Illustrate step doesn’t only have to happen through drawing; role plays and scenarios illustrate and highlight the main topic beautifully especially when you customize those role plays and scenarios to workplace problems they are experiencing back at work or incorporate their company’s mission and strategic objectives into the scenarios and role plays. The participants will feel you truly understand their issues back at work because you are giving them the chance in a “safe place” to act out role plays/scenarios that are specific to their company.

3. Inspire

I used to feel participants didn’t want to know anything about me or that I should be more humble and simply give a little background on where I’m from, my education, and where I live and pretty much nothing more. I’ve learned over the years, however, that participants love it when we as trainers actually use the tools we are teaching in our courses ourselves. Participants find such information so inspirational—they love it when you share a personal success story using one of the tools you’re teaching them; they want to know it works!  So, to customize content, throw in some of your own personal and professional success stories, especially regarding the topics you’re teaching on, and you’ll gain the trust of your participants. Also, don’t be shy to offer success stories of past participants, especially if it’s from the same company—just be sure to preserve confidentiality. Also, it’s important to make sure that you’re not “taking over” and putting on a show; your shares must be real, authentic, sincere and vulnerable. And, it’s important to not over-share; nobody wants to keep hearing about you over and over again. So, be delicate.  Sharing success stories is more about illustrating that the tool, tips and techniques really do work as you’ve tested them and use them yourself.


4. Involve (Include and Interact)

We’ve discussed over and over the importance of not just reading slides, lecturing and performing. Your participants are dying to participate. They are dying to be heard, appreciated and recognized. Too often, back at work, your participants don’t get a say. They’re often ignored, berated, undermined and never rewarded. So, be sure to involve them in some one-on-one coaching. Scan the room and feel out who could use some extra attention and support. Remember your participants’ names and sincerely say their names occasionally throughout the course. Develop a relationship with each of your participants—let them know you care. I’m mindful NOT to call on participants but I do walk around the room when they are in their groups and bend down alongside each participant to listen to what they are offering and/or ask if they need any assistance. I also bend down close to each participant and ask what their thoughts are on the exercise, activity, etc. When we take the time to have special moments with each participant, they don’t feel like they are just a number but they feel included, and as a result they want to interact and enjoy being involved—which makes your job as a trainer easier and much more fun!

5. Invent

Invent games or activities on-the-spot based on comments or experiences that participants are having during the course. Too often Trainers get attached to their “script” or slideshow and leave no room for fun improvisation or in-the-moment Coaching. My best courses have been the ones where a participant made a comment and we turned his/her idea into a game, role play or exercise right in that moment. When we invent on-the-spot and are a bit impromptu, we gain trust from our participants, they feel recognized and appreciated, and we stay extremely current using this technique. Additionally, we are co-creating powerful moments that will be etched in the participants memory for life.

6. Incorporate

Incorporate the latest trends in Training that you’ve recently read about and gotten certified in. Stay current, edgy and trendy by alway researching YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat for the latest things Trainers are using to make learning more fun, engaging, and memorable. Incorporate storytelling, metaphor, Process Coaching, role plays, scenarios, and creative problem-solving techniques into your method of Training so that you touch all learning styles of each of your participants. For participants who are visual, demonstrate exercises through bullet points or a variety of pictures. For participants who are auditory, offer up videos and the chance to hear others through group discussions. For the quieter types, do some partner work so they can have some private moments while still learning with another. For more analytical learners, incorporate self-surveys and “meatier” topics with significant systems. Offering a mix of teaching styles will be sure to incorporate all of the various learners in your courses.

7. Incentivize

Finally, when the training is nearly over, it’s important to have a Call-to-Action to incentivize participants to immediately implement what they’ve learned in the training back at work. Incentivize your participants by doing a final group discussion asking them what their favorite highlights of the course were; whom they plan to share the details of the course with; and one tool or tip they learned from the course that they’d like to immediately start using. And, of course you can have various competitions or games throughout the course with prizes and rewards to incentivize them to stay connected with you and the other participants throughout the course. I always make sure my games and activities are debriefed  to make sure they understood how the game reflects the topic of the course. The customized games are an incentive in themselves for participants to remain engaged while it incentivizes them to participant in the facilitated-style of the debrief after each game.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post as much as I have sharing it with you. Next week, we will be going over the 3rd topic in this 4-part series, which is all about streamlining, cleaning up, and organizing your back-office while getting your training staff motivated and inspired. I’m certain the next post will resonate with you and help your company tremendously. So, stay tuned.

If you’re a trainer or a training company and need support/assistance with creating some fun and moving customized content, send me a request at: Laurie@ExtremeDreamTraining.com.

In the meantime, I look forward to hearing back from you, what you think about this 4-part series, and any other comments you wish to share here at the blog. It’s been a lot of fun learning with you! The autumn is fast approaching which is a sign that the training season is back up and running—I’m excited to see you again in the workshops.

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About Laurie Santos

Owner and Founder of Extreme Dream Training. Certified Life Coach, Master Reiki Healer, Certified Law of Attraction Expert, Certified EFQM Assessor. Surfer, expat, lover of animals, poetry and silence.


  1. […] Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing the key elements to guaranteeing terrific trainings—even when the economic climate has dramatically shifted. We’re now at the 3rd post of a 4-part series where we’ve  been discussing four (4) main categories to focus upon to run a successful training department or training company—to rise above a crisis, to preserve profit, to lead participants to course completion and to help them have higher engagement and retention rates.  If you didn’t get the chance to check out last week’s post yet, you can check it out here: How to Create Money-Making Course Content. […]

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