Trainer Tools
The Essentials Mix: How to keep learners engaged on training courses

The Essentials Mix: How to keep learners engaged on training courses

August 31, 2019

I am re-releasing some older episodes that had really useful content, although I might be a bit crap - but it's only the third I recorded!

In this one, I talk to Shirley Gaston of Azesta about how to keep learners engaged throughout the training event.

This is Shirley's specialist subject, something she's been passionate about for years, In the podcast she outlines three different approaches for ensuring the delegates on the course stay engaged.

Shirley Gaston is the founder of  the experiential learning company Azesta which has been developing people for 16 years. As such, she is one of the driving forces within the company. She values openness and this quality is intrinsic to her learning programmes.  It is important to her to be really approachable and, although highly professional, her overt friendliness is part of her style.

Shirley’s passion for learning through experience has led to her working in learning and development for her entire career and she was approached four years ago to be the sole distributor and ‘face’ of Metalog in the UK.  She has a first class degree in Education as well as a Post Graduate Certificate and Diploma in Professional Training and Development.

She also holds numerous psychometric qualifications and has attended many short trainer development programmes as well as providing them herself for her own staff and associates. Working directly with her own clients, she specialises in leadership, engagement, coaching skills, sales and customer service. Working with trainers, she shares her passion for programmes that fully involve the learner and incorporate active and creative reviewing techniques. She has had several articles published particularly in the field of experiential learning and outdoor management development and is currently working on her first book on the subject.

Shirley lives in Yorkshire with her partner, three small children and a cat. She enjoys a range of outdoor activities, theatre, running her book group and is also a Humanist wedding celebrant.

Shirley Gaston


Watching the leaders - The End of May

Watching the leaders - The End of May

July 31, 2019

Hi, now and again I release an occasional podcast about leadership. 

Each episode will be looking at leaders in the real world and discussing what we can learn from their successes and failures.

It's not political, but it discusses political leaders, both past and present, but focuses on their leadership behaviours and not their politics.

This first episode looks at the top three things that Theresa May got wrong.

I hope you find it useful and interesting, but if not, just delete it, I won't get upset.



How to put learning at the centre of how your organisation succeeds

How to put learning at the centre of how your organisation succeeds

June 30, 2019

A lot of organisations espouse the value of "learning", some even have it as an official "value" and have fancy posters to inspire people to learn, but few really live it, putting learning at the centre of what they do.

Service industries succeed (or fail) almost entirely on the knowledge, skills, and behaviours of their people, so their ability to learn - and therefore improve performance - throughout their whole career is even more important.

In this podcast I chat to Sarah Brennan and Rachel Sedgwick of JDX Consulting, a company that has done just that: put L&D at the heart of who they are and how they succeed.

Sarah Brennan, is the Global Head of Learning and Developmen at JDX Consulting

Having worked as a leadership consultant to JDX since early 2016, Sarah joined the company in 2017 as the CEO of Create Edge and Global Head of L&D.

Sarah has over 15 years’ experience as a trainer, facilitator, HR professional and international executive coach. Fully CIPD qualified, an NLP Master Practitioner, member of the British Psychological Society and expert in a range of psychometrics, Sarah has worked in large corporate and multinational businesses, through to public sector bodies and small not-for-profit organisations.

Her vast experience, passion for the work she does and keen interest in positive psychology and neuroscience have seen Sarah successfully roll-out numerous leadership, management and graduate development programmes, work alongside multiple Boards and senior teams to offer executive coaching and strategic support. She has also run her own training and coaching business and inspires others through her public speaking engagements. She has implemented various bespoke talent identification and management approaches and played a fundamental role in the bid, tender and acquisition processes in large organisations.

Since joining JDX, Sarah has successfully rebuilt the L&D function, launched a world-class global learning Academy and implemented an eLearning platform consisting of around 500 learning modules. Sarah also runs an internal executive coaching programme, a consultant-focused mentoring programme and has led on a number of culture development initiatives.

Rachel Sedgwick, Learning and Development Manager at JDX Consulting

Rachel has nearly 10 years of learning and development experience in a variety of sectors and is currently responsible for managing the day-to-day running of the L&D function at JDX Consulting, including team and budget management, and the production and implementation of innovative learning content across the organisation.

Prior to her post at JDX, Rachel was Learning and Development Manager at Westminster Council Housing where she worked directly with the CEO and the executive leadership team. In this position Rachel built the learning and development department and team from scratch and was responsible for designing and rolling out the L&D strategy across the organisation and tying continuous learning into the existing values structure.

Rachel has also held L&D roles at Google, The Racing Post, Prudential Assurance, and Cushman and Wakefield and has an array of professional certifications from The Academy of Executive Coaching, Mindgym and the TRACOM group, as well as a BA (hons) in Drama and Theatre Studies from Roehampton University.  


Language learning at work: how to do it and why it’s worth it

Language learning at work: how to do it and why it’s worth it

May 31, 2019

In this month's podcast, I talk to Dr Katie Nielson about the role of language learning in organisations and the impact it can have on the motivation and the bottom line.

We look at how to create great language programmes, the science of language learning, and how to understand the ROI.

For the past seven years, Dr. Katie Nielson has been the Chief Education Officer at Voxy, an educational technology company focused on helping global teams improve careers and performance through personalized language learning at scale. Katie ensures that learners are getting the most efficient and effective educational experience possible.  

Prior to this, she worked at the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language, where she served as the Principal Investigator on large-scale projects researching the efficacy of technology-mediated language training products. She has taught Second Language Acquisition and Applied Linguistics at the graduate level at Hunter College and has facilitated numerous teacher training courses around the world.  

Katie Nielson has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Virginia and a Master of Arts in Linguistics from University College London. In 2012, Katie received her PhD in Second Language Acquisition from the University of Maryland College Park.

Katie lectures and writes about all things related to language learning and educational technology, including for HR Technologist, Language Magazine, and The74. You can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and at the Voxy Blog.

Katie Nielson has been the Chief Education Officer at Voxy, an educational technology compa

How can we train executive presence in leadership development?

How can we train executive presence in leadership development?

April 30, 2019

In this month's podcast, we talk to communications experts Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger of Turpin Communications about their leadership development work, and how they work with leaders to train and coach them on improving their "executive presence"

Greg Owen-Boger is the Vice President of Turpin Communication, a business communication training company in Chicago.

He started with Turpin as a cameraman in 1995 and quickly moved on to instructor/coach, project manager, account manager, and now VP. Over the years he has coached countless employees and leaders to be more effective presenters, facilitators, and trainers.

Prior to joining Turpin, he was a Project Leader for a boutique consultancy that uses live theatre to initiate the leadership development process. Prior to that, he was an actor.

Greg was the 2015 President of ATD, Chicagoland Chapter. He is a frequent blogger, popular speaker, and the co-author of two books: “The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined” and “Effective SMEs: A Trainer’s Guide for Helping Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning.” He is among many thought leaders who contributed to the book “Master Presenter: Lessons from the World’s Top Experts on Becoming a More Influential Speaker.”

In his spare time, he works as the Executive Director of Turpin Cares, which provides food, hygiene, and comfort items to the homeless on Chicago’s south side.

See here for Greg’s blog, LinkedIn profile, and Turpin Commiunication Facebook page.

Dr Dale Ludwig has a Ph.D. in Communication and, prior to founding Turpin Communication in 1992, taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He started Turpin with the mission to provide the best presentation and facilitation skills training possible. Since then he has worked to do just that. In addition to being one of Turpin’s lead instructors and executive coaches, he also serves as Chief Learning Architect when tailoring learning engagements for clients.

Dale is the co-author of “The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined” and “Effective SMEs: A Trainer’s Guide to Helping Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning.” He also wrote the Readers’ Choice Award-winning article “Let’s Get Serious about Live, Instructor-Led Training” for Training Industry Magazine.

He spends his spare time as the Board President of Turpin Cares, the philanthropic arm of Turpin Communication, where he leads efforts to supply food and comfort to those experiencing homelessness on Chicago’s south side.

See here for Dale’s blog, LinkedIn profile, and Turpin Commiunication Facebook page.


Identity Crisis! Is Learning and Development fulfilling its purpose?

Identity Crisis! Is Learning and Development fulfilling its purpose?

March 31, 2019

In this episode I speak to Kevin M Yates and Krystyna Gadd about how learning and development needs to align itself to business needs and focus on performance improvement – using data, or “facts” as Kevin calls them – if we, and our Learning and Development brothers and sisters, are to thrive and make a real difference!

Krystyna Gadd is a leading authority on accelerated learning and its application in the UK. As an engineer in a former life, it has shaped her thinking towards creating learning that creates measurable performance impact. She has been training trainers since 2008, through CIPD professional programmes and her own workshops. She has published a book “50 ways to Accelerate Learning”, which expands on her “5 Secrets of Accelerated Learning” that she shared in the Training Journal article “Quick off the Mark”. Both these publications help to dispel some of the myths surrounding accelerated learning. There are 5 broad areas or “secrets” to accelerated learning, that Krys shared in a recent article called “Get up to speed” that appeared in the Training Journal in 2016.

Krystyna is the founder of How to Accelerate Learning and creator of The Learning Loop® a brand new and innovative way to train trainers, facilitators, subject matter experts and line managers.

If you want to get in touch or just see some of the stuff Krys gets involved with, then you can contact her, look at her website, read her blog or view some of her short and snappy videos on YouTube

Kevin M Yates is a Learning & Development detective and just like Sherlock Holmes, he solves mysteries. The mystery he solves is, “Did training work?”

He uses facts, evidence and data to show training and learning’s impact on behavior, performance and goals.

His work is global and multi-industry. He’s served in a variety of roles across training, learning and talent development which guides and informs his perspective and actions. Kevin’s guiding principle is, “Find one thing about a person’s behavior or performance you can attribute to training or learning and let that lead to the facts about impact.”

Kevin is current the Learning Technology Manager at McDonald’s

Visit Kevin’s website and connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

5 tips to better learning videos

5 tips to better learning videos

February 28, 2019

In this episode I talk to Jeff Long about some simple tips that make a big difference to improving how you record videos for learning

Since 2003 Jeff Long has worked with companies, organizations, and entrepreneurs to help them create engaging online courses, dynamic training videos, and flexible websites.

He specializes in creating online courses and his superpower is helping you create effective online course videos. His website and podcast can be found at along with other videos, training, and resources

Using simulations to bring leadership development to life

Using simulations to bring leadership development to life

January 31, 2019

Leadership development is a big topic, it cannot be reduced to a series of bullet points stuck on PowerPoint slides. If we are to develop great leaders, we need patience, and we need to provide impactful experiences and create learning spaces where leaders can work with colleagues to learn, reflect, and grow.

Simulations can be an enjoyable and effective part of that ... if they are well-designed!

In this podcast we talk to Bjorn Billhardt and Matt Confer who share their top five tips to creating great leadership development simulations

Bjorn Billhardt is the CEO of Abilitie.

Prior to founding Abilitie in 2015, Bjorn was the CEO of Enspire Learning, Inc., a custom e-learning development company he co-founded in 2001.

Abilitie offers award-winning team-based leadership simulations that hone people management, business acumen, and strategic leadership skills. Abilitie’s simulations have been utilized by over 40 members of the Fortune 500 in more than 30 countries around the world. Bjorn is a recognized authority in the field of talent development and simulation design and has been a speaker at conferences such as Training, ASTD, and ISPI.

Matt Confer is the VP of Strategy & Business Development at Abilitie focused on new client relationships and partnership development in the learning & development industry.

Matt’s interest in the learning & development space began at Deloitte Consulting where he was a Manager in their Project Controller Practice and worked to help develop and then facilitated a brand new on boarding program for new campus hires.


2019 Learning and Development Executive Summit

2019 Learning and Development Executive Summit

December 15, 2018

At Trainer Tools, we occasionally promote L&D industry events, books or other content that we think is of value.

In this case, we're proud to be involved with the 2019 L&D Executive Summit organised by Opal Group.

Learning leaders from some of the most recognizable global brands including Starbucks, Disney, Wells Fargo, Campbell’s Soup, Yale, Royal Caribbean Cruises and more – will be speaking at the 2019 Learning & Development Executive Summit at the Four Seasons Resort in Orlando, FL in February 2019.

This exclusive invitation-only event is designed for C-Suite and Heads of Corporate Learning, Talent Development and Talent Management.

Request an invitation or learn about sponsorship opportunities by contacting or visiting

Hot topics include designing for the modern learner, transforming organizational culture and building a resilient, global workforce

Transactional Analysis for trainers (part three): understanding drivers (or working styles)

Transactional Analysis for trainers (part three): understanding drivers (or working styles)

November 30, 2018

In this episode of the Trainer Tools podcast, I welcome back Garry Platt to continue discussions on his specialist subject: Transactional Analysis.

Transactional Analysis, or TA, is a theory of how humans interact with each other - its main application being to help understand human behaviour and communication: each interaction between people being called a "transaction". It was developed by Canadian psychiatrist Eric Berne and has been a tool in the trainer and coach toolbox for many years in helping us understand ourselves and our own interpersonal behaviours, but also understand those of others.

In this episode Garry talks about "Drivers", also known as "working styles" and this builds on the first TA series

This podcast includes a promotion for the 2019 Learning and Development Executive Summit

Garry Platt is an experienced training consultant with more than 30 years experience in the business. He has worked with a number of international organisations helping them to enhance their approach to training and development. Within the last 12 months he has worked with Deutsche Post DHL, Formica, Siemens, Mercedes AMG F1 Team and was the keynote speaker at the SHE Conference in Blackpool.

Academically qualified to Masters Degree level in Education, Training and Development his work combines current research and study in Human Resource Development with a pragmatic and workable approach.

During the last 10 years an area of specialisation has become the evaluation and return on investment analysis of training delivered in organisations. Drawing from the experience of hundreds of companies and organisations he has drawn together a large range of methods and approaches which many organisations have selected from and introduced into their own.

Garry currently works for EEF and can be contacted via his LinkedIn profile or email (

Garry Platt