Accelerating the Accidental Trainer’s Journey


February 24, 2017

Accelerating the Accidental Trainer’s Journey

By Mark Nilles

Director, Learning and Impact InsideNGO

Before working for InsideNGO, I was an operations manager at InsideNGO member International Youth Foundation, supporting USAID-funded projects. My job entailed equal parts financial management, compliance oversight, and capacity building with local partners—and in many cases these roles were overlapping.

It was a busy but fulfilling role, and I especially enjoyed the capacity building aspect of it. Helping local partners to improve their ability to achieve results served both short- and long-term goals and was something I found to be enjoyable. But perhaps just as importantly, being prepared to build the capacity of others compelled me to understand our systems, procedures, and regulations at a deeper level than I would have otherwise.

Eight years ago, while at that job, I was given the opportunity to attend the InsideNGO Training of Trainers workshop. Although I had been supporting capacity building efforts for several years, I didn’t have formal training to help me determine how to properly design or deliver a training session or support a comprehensive learning process. My master’s degree in education provided me with a solid academic foundation, but it didn’t properly prepare me to help project managers in Pakistan fulfill leverage requirements or financial managers in Jordan comply with USAID regulations.

However, the InsideNGO Training of Trainers workshop did. It was a workshop unlike any I had ever attended, and I left with what felt like a comprehensive toolkit full of knowledge and resources to help me design and deliver capacity building that could make a difference.

But even armed with that toolkit, I quickly learned that effective training skills are not created overnight. Being able to adapt and deploy the tools in my toolkit required a more sophisticated understanding that I could only achieve through practice. I tried a lot of things that frankly didn’t work, but oftentimes the participants in my sessions were too polite to give me constructive feedback. So I was forced to speculate about where things went wrong and to cross my fingers that next time would be better.

Nevertheless, capacity building and training became a more and more significant aspect of my work, and supporting the teaching and learning process has since become my passion.

This is why I am so excited that InsideNGO is introducing a follow-up workshop to our popular Training of Trainers offering. Offered as an online eWorkshop, TOT 2: Practical Application of Tools and Techniques offers opportunities for people who are ‘accidental trainers’ to deepen their understanding of session design and delivery. Best of all, during the workshop participants work on an actual training session that they plan to deliver in their work. Near the end of the workshop, each participant records him or herself delivering the session for feedback by facilitators and fellow workshop participants.

And because the eWorkshop is delivered over seven weeks, participants have ample time to learn, incorporate, and practice new knowledge and skills. The resources, activities, and facilitator feedback are designed with practical application in mind.

This is just the type of opportunity that would have accelerated my growth as a trainer following my participation in the TOT workshop. Click here for more information. Please note, this workshop is designed as a follow-on to InsideNGO’s and Mango’s respective TOT workshops. If you have questions about the workshop content or online methodology, please contact me directly at to discuss.

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