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Calling yourself a Communication Trainer doesn't make you one.

Beware! Here comes a rant…
Last week I attended a seminar and got introduced to a Team Manager from a big bank. When he asked me about my profession, I told him about my work as a Communication Trainer. He scoffed and said he was a Communication Trainer too. He recently started running workshops with his team members to improve soft skills.  
This will be interesting, I thought. So I asked him what his background was with Communication Training and Workshop Design. 
"None" he replied.
"None?..." I replied in shock and horror.
"No." he said "Anyone can be a Communication Trainer, right?" 
Needless to say I died a little bit inside...
It seems like everyone is a trainer these days.  Except that, they're not. 

What it means to be a Communication Trainer
I am not a Communication Trainer just because I say I am.  And just because you ran a few communication workshops doesn’t mean you are trainer. It just means you lived through an experience, which is …

How Scenario Based Training can help you build a Better Business

At InterACT we love to use Scenario Based Training to engage people in learning. This approach is founded on theater methods pioneered by Augusto Boal in the early 1970’s. 
Although drama is widely used in business training, we often hear it is still a concept unknown to many. 
So what is it? How does it work? And how can you benefit from it?
What is Scenario Based Training (SBT)?
Firstly, there is a common misconception that SBT is ‘role play’ or a way of teaching ‘acting techniques’ for business. Whilst these are elements that can be built into a SBT session or form the basis for some follow-on work, they are not what SBT is fundamentally all about.
Scenario Based Training is an experiential change management tool. It helps identify, challenge and change behavior in the workplace. Using the expertise of professional actors SBT brings complex business issues, processes and practices to life in accessible scripted scenarios.
SBT is about learning through experience. It is about creating an …

How to root out workplace harassment.

We all know it. Employees have a right to work in a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. And as an employer, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that these rights are met. 

So many business try to do the right thing and run frequent workshops that provide up-to-date knowledge regarding legal and duty of care obligations. But based on recent headlines, these training programs might not be working, and employers should perhaps try more innovative approaches. 

Recent research suggest that the best way to prevent sexual harassment, bullying and other toxic workplace behavior is not by proving staff with more knowledge, but to train them in how to stand up for their abused colleagues when they witness incidents. Also know as Bystander Training. 
One reason why encouraging intervention makes good sense is that some 70 percent (!) of employees have observed harassment in the workplace.  While the concept of encouraging employees to report harassment is not new, bystander trai…

The 1 critical element missing from Leadership Training

When I was 28, I was beside myself with excitement when I learned I was being promoted to my first Account Management position. It was everything I had worked hard for, and I was determined to be the best Account Manager possible. My company's leadership training program addressed many critical elements, like understanding my new role and what my responsibilities would include, communicating expectations clearly and delegating responsibilities.  However, my training didn't include any learnings on how to deal with conflict and with resistance. It turned out to be the critical missing element, leaving me unprepared for a challenge I would soon face... In my early days in the new position everything went well, and I was thrilled to see my clients and account team members respond to my actions. However, the honeymoon ended quickly when one of my biggest clients started arguing with me in a crucial meeting and was causing conflict about a contractual error.  I was so confused. I …

Presenter, Facilitator, Trainer or Experiential Trainer?

In recent years I have come to notice that many businesses don’t know the difference between a presenter, a facilitator, a trainer or experiential trainer. In fact, many still consider a training room to be an extension of a school classroom. 
This is the same as believing that a team-leader, a supervisor and a manager all do the same thing...

So to clarify: Who's who? 

Facilitator:
A facilitator is a person who makes the learning process easier. They often help a group of trainees to understand their common learning objectives and assist them to plan how to achieve these objectives. In doing so, the facilitator remains "neutral", meaning he/she does not take a particular position in the discussion. Facilitators don't necessarily need to have formal education in adult learning. 
Presenter:
A presenter is someone who performs a speech or presentation to a live audience, with less interaction with the learners. They are often subject experts and their (sometimes Power Point) …

Who Are You?

Self Reflection is an important competency, and a common term used in Learning & Development. Just a quick google search on the term 'self reflection' leads to more than 357.000.000 results!

Apparently there is a lot of self reflection to be done...
And it is not without reason... You can learn and improve a lot from self-reflection. It increases your self-knowledge, makes you (more) aware of emotions that play a role in different situations and it gives you insight into how you can act more effectively. But how does one do that? How do you self-reflect? Recently I ran a Personal Effectiveness training using the Logical Levels of Change, Learning & Communication, based on Bateson & Dilts.

This theory states that people can think, learn and communicate on different levels:







The effect of each level is to organize and direct the information on the level below it. Changing something on a higher level would necessarily change things on the lower levels. Changing somet…

6 Ways to make Role Plays Real

Role-plays are a great way of practicing new skills. But often workshop participants complain that they don't enjoy the role-play simulations because they don't feel real, making  them ultimately learn less. 
Fortunately, as a trainer/facilitator there is a lot you can do to make role-playing real. Starting with these 6 ways to make Role Plays REAL: 
1. Work with real situations Role play becomes more real when participants can use their own experiences. I love to work with situations that the participants come up with themselves. Reason being that if someone suffers from the miscommunication with a colleague at work, role-playing that exact situation will feel a lot more real than a standardized case scenario.
2. Have the Participant choose his opponent Let the participant always choose an 'opponent' himself. I promise you he will automatically choose someone who looks like the person he finds it difficult to deal with in real life. By doing that chances are also that…

Why content is not training

I love yoga.  So much so that I take weekly classes. 
Because I live close to one of the best Yoga studio's in WA, the classes I attend are delivered by top-tier teachers. This means that I often find myself side-by-side with amazing yogis from all over the world. This is a little like finding yourself singing with Celine Dion or acting alongside Julia Roberts. Here’s the thing that I’ve noticed, though. 
We (myself and these yoga stars) are doing the exact same steps to the exact same music in the exact same place at the exact same time, yet it sure doesn’t look that way. 

Why, why, why? 

The answer is a single word: skill. What we are doing is the same. How we are doing it is not. And, this is why content isn’t training. Content provides the what. Training provides the how. It concerns me when I hear content being discussed more and more frequently as being synonymous with training. Taking a course on Lynda.com can provide you with the what, but it won’t teach you the how. 

Ditto with pr…

The Secret to Memorizing Anything

Working in the field of Training and Development I meet A LOT of workshop participants. Meeting all these new people is one of the best parts of my job, but when I just started out running training workshops I had serious trouble remembering the participants names...   

I believe calling someone by their name is a simple way to make them feel recognized so I quickly resolved the problem. 

By using name tents. 

It didn't take long before I knew this was a big mistake. It just didn't fee right. I felt like a fraud calling out someones name right after I secretly peeked at their name tent.   

Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” so I knew I had to find a way to remember people’s names if I wanted to truly connect with them. I started using the same formula that I use in my workshop design to help people retain more from their training course.

It's called Spaced Repetition.

It is a learning technique tha…

Training Managers for Mental Health Conversations

Last week I visited a new coffee place in the city. As I walked in, there was nobody behind the till. A young man in his twenties was making coffees for two business men and told me he'd be with me as soon as possible. 

Then suddenly another employee appeared from the kitchen. 

Her eyes red from crying. 
Desperately biting her lip in an attempt to keep a straight face.

She jumped behind the till and asked me for my coffee order without making eye-contact.   

I asked her if she was OK. 
She said she was fine. 

I said I had trouble believing her. 
She said she was just trying to keep it together.

I asked her if there was anything I could do for her. 
She said she just wanted to get some air.

So after her young male colleague agreed to take over, we stepped outside together. She told me she didn't want anybody to find out she was suffering from anxiety. This job was very important to her. When I asked her why she didn't talk to her manager, she reassured me that that was absolutely no o…