How To Go From One-Hit-Wonder to Trusted Trainer

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I have a confession to make. 

After some reflection, I’ve realized that I’m always giving advice and support on how to be the best trainer, facilitator, or leader possible. 

And even though I’ve done this work for over a decade, I still make plenty of mistakes.

Throughout much of my career, I’ve been a one-hit-wonder. 

Let me explain exactly what I mean by this.


When I talk about a one-hit-wonder, I’m not exactly referring to early-90’s sensation Vanilla Ice. 

Although I am taking inspiration from that rise to fame and the slow slope into non-existence. 

Because as a trainer, I often hear people give me feedback about projects. 

They say they had a blast. 
They say that loved it. 
They say they learned so much. 
They say they had so much fun. 

But eventually, all that excitement fades, the lessons go blurry, and it becomes more of a happy memory than a source of inspiration. 

Which means one-hit-wonders aren’t training people for life – we’re giving them a great experience.

Though I’m constantly striving to go past that. I believe that trainers should be someone that organizations can consistently count on for support. 

And that’s why I created this framework of The Trusted Trainer. 

Like I said above, this isn’t something I claimed to have perfected. This is an ideal that I’m constantly working towards.

Trusted Trainers

Trusted trainers are people that are there for the long term. Rather than being a quick bite of information that ends up being costly for organizations, they are true partners that are willing to facilitate growth. 

Let me contrast the two for you. Here’s some of the biggest differences I see between a one-hit-wonder and a trusted trainer.

One-Hit WonderTrusted Trainer
Says “yes” to every training opportunitySays “thank you” to every training opportunity and asks for a meeting to understand more
Has a set training design with little adaptation for specific groupsAdapts every learning event based on the needs of the specific group at that time
Includes participatory activities, relevant or not.Includes participatory activities that directly pertain to the content
Focuses on being the best facilitatorFocuses on helping others become great facilitators
Has great analysisHelps learners build great analysis
Puts emphasis on people enjoying their trainingPuts emphasis on achieving organizational goals
Evaluation is limited to asking about what people would like about the trainingEvaluation includes organizational results like membership growth & other leadership metrics
Does one learning event hoping that people will use what they’ve learnedFollows-up with people to see how they are using what they’ve learned

How to Make the Transition

So how do we jump from one to the other? Because the goal with this analysis isn’t to put myself down or to criticize any other trainers. 

We’re here to learn, self-reflect, and grow the movement! 

Here are 3 strategies I recommend to start transitioning into a Trusted Trainer. 

Start Looking at the Bigger Picture

This one is crucial. Sometimes we just need to step back and get out a wider lens. Each training should be planned with the overarching goals and strategy in mind – not just this solitary event. 

It can be hard to do this, both for trainers and leaders. But taking the time to look at the bigger picture is the first step to building a stronger relationship and establishing a lasting connection. 

Ask yourself questions before planning your training. So the next time you’re planning a workshop or meeting with a leader, take some time to say, 

How does this fit into the overall growth timeline and metrics for progress?

Teach them to Teach

Whenever you’re planning a training event, I find it helpful to remember that our goal is to create future trainers. 

So not only do we need to teach people certain skills and ideas – we also need to teach them how to pass on their learning. Because it doesn’t matter if we are fantastic facilitators if the learners never become trainers themselves. 

Again, we need to take a step back, think about how we can better equip people in the long haul, and then make sure we’re following up. 


I feel like this is the most difficult one to stick with. 

But honestly, you’re never going to have two training sessions that are exactly alike. And if you do, they’re not serving those organizations well. 

No two organizations are exactly alike. They have different teams, different goals, and different metrics. Even if they want to learn the same skills, there are two distinct paths to achieving their goals. 

Make sure you’re taking the time to learn an organization’s needs, adapt your training design to them, and follow up to get feedback.

Let’s Keep Evolving Together

Like I said – I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect you to be, either. Keep finding the tools social change leaders can use to enhance learning and do your best. 

But considering the people we partner with often dedicate an immense amount of time and resources to use training and education for social change, it’s only fair that we continue to reflect on how we can leave a bigger impact. 

Send this to someone you consider a Trusted Trainer and let me know if there’s anything missing.

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Riahl Hey, folks! Thank you so much for joining us. My name is Riahl O’Malley. I use he/him pronouns. I’m with Learning to Transform, and

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