“Anti-Patterns of Training – Part Two” Contributed by Jean-Paul Bayley

(Sharon’s note: My thanks to TBR Certified Trainer Jean-Paul Bayley for contributing this post.)

Following my previous “Anti-Patterns of Training” post, here are more mistakes (“anti-patterns”) trainers often make. When viewed through the lens of “Training from the BACK of the Room” we see that these go against how brain science tells us we learn best.


Anti-Pattern #1: Too Far Out of Their Comfort Zone

You’re a training participant. You show up on Day One of a course, have the usual quick coffee and share a smile with your fellow learners. In the opening moments of the training, the trainer asks a difficult, direct question to the group: “Who can tell us one very important concept about this training?” Everyone gets put on edge and stares at their notepads. The tension in the room rises as the entire class tries to shrink to such a small size that the trainer can’t see them. Confused by why no one has answered this question, the trainer calls an attendee out by name:  “Hey… John is it? What do you think?” John flies into a blind panic and wishes that the ground would swallow him up. The trainer loses the group for the next twenty minutes as they metabolise their adrenalin.

As the trainer, you need to build psychological safety in the room first. Get learners talking to each other in pairs or small groups as soon as possible. Warm up participants by providing safe opportunities to speak. Don’t make learners panic by putting them on the spot. When asking the class for answers, gratefully accept and encourage all responses and gently correct those that are incorrect.

Anti-Pattern #2: Death by Powerpoint

You’re the trainer and you’re showing slide 451 of your slide deck. Everyone in the room is drifting into sleep. You haven’t reached the point in the deck that indicates “time for lunch,” so you press on regardless. You have to cover all the concepts in the slide deck and there’s a lot to cover. Finally you reach a point where you can call for a break. Your learners move out of the room as quickly as possible, and you have to drag them back in when the allotted break time is up.

Oftentimes we trainers pack ridiculous amounts of information into slide decks. It’s easier for us to lecture off slides than to come up with some other activities. Here are two things we can do to cut our slide decks down to size:

  1.  Prioritise what we need to teach by choosing the 20% that is “need-to-know” information. Provide opportunities to learn the 80% “nice-to-know” information in other ways: follow up activities, recommended readings, homework assignments, etc.
  2. Convert some of the need-to-know information from slides into small group activities. Some examples: writing on handouts, playing a card game like “Myth or Fact,” writing on wall charts, holding short discussions in table groups, etc.

Anti-Pattern #3: Glued to Their Seat

You’re the training participant. It’s been a long day. You’ve only moved from your seat during breaks and you’re starting to feel sluggish and drowsy, to say the least. Your concentration is waning and you’re not sure how much you have taken in during this session. You crave the next break so you can re-energize.

As a trainer, you know that the brain needs a lot of oxygen to function at its best, and the best way to get an oxygen-boost is to move. You need to build movement into your training so that your students stretch, stand, walk, talk, and move! Examples:

  1. When students have to read information from slides, screen or book, break the reading up with sitting/standing stretches.
  2. Have students form standing pairs/triads with participants that they are not sitting with to discuss the content or answer questions you ask.

Simply getting learners to stand up and stretch increases the bloodflow to the brain. This jolt of oxygen which will help retention of new knowledge and improve the energy in the room. It’s a simple thing to try in any format of class.

About the Author:
Jean-Paul Bayley is a Certified Trainer for “Training from the BACK of the Room” (TBR). He is based in England and is the founder of Bay Spark Ltd.  – a Business Agility Consultancy. Jean-Paul’s mission is to share how to create fun, engaging and memorable learning experiences. He helps individuals, teams, and organizations achieve their professional goals. For more about Jean-Paul, click on this website’s Certified Trainers page or follow him on Twitter @jpbayley.  For information about Jean-Paul’s next TBR class September 24th – 25th 2018, click on the link below:

London, England, UK (September 2018)

Facilitator: TBR Certified Trainer Jean-Paul Bayley
Location: London, England, UK
Dates: September 24th – 25th 2018Training from the BACK of the Room
Sponsored by: Actineo Consulting LLP 


  • I feel the same, Ed, now that I know more about “Death by PowerPoint” and how the human brain reacts to pointless (pun intended!) slides. We’ll change the world, one slide show at a time! 🙂 Sharon

  • Slide 451 or even 41, I would have walked out, I will let no one expose me to enhanced “PowerPointation.”

Thank you for reading!