Top Tips for Trainers #4: The Pros and Cons of the Top 9 Face-to-Face Training Delivery Methodologies

Published on: Thu 3 September 2015 by Admin

Continuing with the series of blogs for those trainers who are new to preparing and implementing effective development programmes or short session, this blog takes a look at the advantages and disadvantages for different delivery methods.

If you haven’t already seen them check out:

Tips for Trainers #1: Know Your Delegate Diversity

Tips for Trainers #2: 11 Steps to Designing an Awesome Group Training Activity

Tips for Trainers #3: Top 10 Considerations to Optimise Your Learners’ Motivation to Learn

The satisfaction of designing and facilitating learning is in the wide variety of different delivery methods to select from, depending on the required learning outcome and delegate group. The new trainer will ideally work to expand their portfolio and experience of using different ones over time. It not only expands the thinking and skills of the designer/facilitator, but challenges the delegates and ensures all four learning styles are catered for.

Discussion Group

  • Advantages – Maintains delegate interest, creates a more relaxed atmosphere, provides an opportunity for everyone to have their say and increase delegate participation, develops opinions, provides food for thought, enables a shared experience, can bring delegates closer together, delegate experiences can be drawn out in a more relaxed way than the facilitator just asking delegates questions, effective for attitudinal training, can provide an opportunity for delegates to get to know each better, builds stronger relationships
  • Disadvantages – Requires a lot of planning by the facilitator to prepare Primary and Secondary questions, requires control by a skilled facilitator who must listen intently to the discussion and anticipate where it is moving, ideal for small groups of 10 or less, facilitator must be a skilled communicator, can be time consuming if the discussion is poorly structured and controlled, group must be willing and comfortable to contribute and open up, the required learning outcomes may not be achieved


  • Advantages – provides an opportunity for delegates to practice new skills and techniques before going ‘live’ in the workplace, can portray skills levels easily, helps delegates to gain an insight into how other people demonstrate a particular skill or technique, enables people to be more self-aware about how they respond to certain situations, develops confidence, provides an opportunity for constructive feedback, opportunity to celebrate delegate successes
  • Disadvantages – better with small numbers e.g. delegate groups of 9, no more than 12 (depending on the programme duration), role-specific scenarios must be written which is time consuming, needs a mature delegate group, requires a thoughtful introduction by the facilitator including: purpose / role-play process / what skills are being practised / process for feedback when the role-play is complete. Facilitator must work with delegates to help them control nerves, giggles and often embarrassment. Needs time for introduction, role-play activity and constructive, unrushed feedback. Specific learning outcomes are not guaranteed

Role-Play using Actors

  • Advantages – provides an opportunity for delegates to practice new skills in a more realistic setting, skilled actors can scale the intensity of their style and approach up or down depending on the experience level of the delegate, actors are trained to engage with their fellow role-players better and provide more realistic responses, body language and facial expressions
  • Disadvantages – more expensive to hire in one or two actors, scenarios and script must be detailed and written in plenty of time for rehearsals, actor briefs have to be produced to ensure actors understand the scripts/scenarios in context of the organisation, job roles and required development outcomes

Case Studies

  • Advantages – enables delegates to make discoveries for themselves, provides an opportunity for them to make decisions and think forward, reinforces individual or group learning, gives a practical example of where best practice is thriving, provides opportunity for group discussion
  • Disadvantages – needs a scenario in step with the learning outcomes to be achieved, scenario must be relevant and within the scope of the delegates understanding, the scenario must be up to date and ideally real, delegates must be literate, can produce non-standard learning outcomes and opinions

Practical Demonstration

  • AdvantagesCan show a real situation and what is should look like, reduces the need for resources to be provided to everyone, can be repeated readily, can be time beneficial, supports any explanation or dialogue being given by the facilitator, can be presented to groups large or small, opportunity for a question/answer session, can provide variety within the training room, can be a live demo or one prepared earlier (perhaps filmed or as e-learning)
  • Disadvantages – requires very careful planning on behalf of the facilitator, only suitable for certain types of tasks – e.g. not effective with tasks that have a lot of detailed written procedures, trainer or demonstrator must be highly familiar with the task and understand how to break it into bite-sized learning chunks, requires rehearsal, must have all of the required equipment and or visual aids to hand, can be time consuming depending on the task, does not guarantee a consistent learning outcome


  • Advantages – provides an opportunity to be creative and to provide a very different learning experience, can stay in the memory long after the learning event, provides everyone with the opportunity to be involved, delegates can feel the learning as well as understand it, provides a much more rounded learning experience – opportunity to reflect long after the event, can target all of the Kolb Learning Styles, can energise the group, provides a talking point after the event
  • Disadvantages – Requires a very skilled designer to create the appropriate experiential activity, delegates must understand why they are doing it, requires careful planning and preparation, some delegates may be nervous about this type of event, the experiential session must have a detailed and well-constructed review with constructive feedback, learning outcomes may not be guaranteed, can be time consuming to prepare and facilitate


  • Advantages – Can engage learners better by getting everyone involved, can target all Kolb learning styles, provides an opportunity for delegates to reflect on what happens in their organisation or how the learning relates to their own role, can provoke new ideas and thoughts, can challenge delegates to think outside of their norm
  • Disadvantages – Requires a very skilled facilitator who understands the context of the facilitated discussion and how to use questions to keep it rolling, requires careful planning of questions, facilitator must know when to challenge or pull and when not to, facilitator must involve everyone not just the talkative few, better used with a small group of under 10 delegates

Lecture or Facilitator Input

  • Advantages – Opportunity to tell everyone the same thing quickly, ideal for any size group, quicker to plan, excellent facilitator control of information being communicated, good for knowledge based learning i.e. new procedure or product, ideally used infrequently and then in very short bursts
  • Disadvantages – passive delegate involvement, can bore delegates, requires an opportunity for delegate questions, need to check delegate understanding, requires facilitator to understand the information and be competent to answer questions without referral

Video Clips – Prepared from scratch or YouTube

  • Advantages – If prepared from scratch using professional actors it can show an example or scenario as close to the real thing as possible, gives opportunity for a meaty group discussion. Helps to get across factual information, body language, emotive issues and challenges. Can be branded to the organisation, function and individual roles, can be used time and time again, good for large or small groups
  • Disadvantages – is can be expensive to produce from scratch for small groups, requires a skilled designer/writer, requires professional actors / filming and editing expertise, film content or scenario can date, if using YouTube risk delegates having seen the film clip before