Thursday, 1 November 2018

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 valid but doesn’t make you a trainer.

Being a Communication Trainer means you've studied your field. That you’ve spent thousands of hours mastering your craft before even calling yourself a trainer. It means you’ve done the work.

A Communication Trainer is an expert in the ways of transferring knowledge to others. A professional who knows how to make people apply those new communication skills in the workplace.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Team Leader can not help his team communicate better. I just wish that he would be more careful how he positioned himself. 
Maybe he should stop calling himself a Trainer and start seeing himself as a Student.

Now I know that there are many firms out there that use their front line people to ‘train’ their staff in communication skills. But when you are not an experienced, skilled trainer it is natural to make some dangerous mistakes. 

For example: 

There are no learning objectives in place so the workshop is not designed around achieving those objectives. Without them, it's like trying to hit a bull's eye blindfolded. 

or another common mistake:  

Packing the students with as much information as possible in as little time as possible. In other words, give a lecture, show power point slides and challenge participants to talk and think.  

I like to call this the information dump. Sort of like drinking from a high power sprinkler while lying on your back in the neighbour’s yard. 

There is a lot of water flying around, but how much do you get to drink?
A trainer understands how to relay facts and figures about Communication in such a way that the audience will listen, learn and most importantly: apply. 

They know how to entertain, engage and translate facts into relatable stories and impact full learning experiences.

So next time you call yourself a trainer... Please, think again.

Rant over. ;)