Can Speakers Become Trainers?

Sure you can give a speech, but can you train an audience?
Sure you can give a speech, but can you train an audience?
Image Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

Congratulation, you now have the ability to stand in front of an audience and give a speech – you understand the importance of public speaking. What comes next? Have you ever thought about branching out? Perhaps you can use your speaking skills in a different way in order to communicate with a group of people. One way to do this is to become a trainer. If you think about it, being a trainer is very similar to giving a speech. Just exactly what does it take to make the switch from being a speaker to being a trainer?

Becoming A Trainer

If you think about it, what does a speaker do? They entertain, inform, inspire and motivate. It turns out that this is what corporate trainers do also. However, there are some distinct differences exist between these two types of activities. If you choose to venture into training, then it is going to require some preparation. The similarities between public speaking, training depend on the expertise and professional insight of the person doing the talking. In all three of these areas, the speaker needs to know if the audience, students or participants are following along. But what if they’re not listening? That is where a significant difference between training and the other two pursuits quickly becomes apparent. Trainers are the ones who face a particularly difficult and demanding task. While speakers need to find ways to capture an audience’s passive attention and teachers need to evoke their students’ interest, trainers must engage their participants enough to follow instructions and perform complex activities.

So what techniques can a speaker use to engage adult learners when they are training them? First, you are going to need to pay attention to various learning styles and offer something for auditory, visual and tactile learners. You need to recognize that many adults have been trained by years of TV watching to look for a commercial every eight minutes. Meeting their pace, you need to make sure to change things up every eight minutes in ways that strategically appeal to each different kind of learner. Ways that you can do this include asking a question, offering a new handout, or showing something attention-grabbing onscreen.

When you are playing the role of a trainer, you are going to want to offer plenty of challenges. We need to be aware that adults can skip a training session they feel is not worthwhile. Adults have the freedom to leave early or decline to participate actively. We all know how adults deal with things that they don’t want to do: they will look at the title of a session and gravitate to the back of the room upon arrival, ready to leave if the session fails to involve them in the first five minutes. As trainers we have to be ready to answer the first question that the members of our audience will be asking: “What’s in it for me?” This requires us to give them something of value right away.

How To Conduct Training

If you are considering using your speaking skills to educate others, you will find it important to understand that there is a difference between teaching and training. A teacher who lectures and evaluates is using pedagogy and a trainer who facilitates self-directed learning is using andragogy. In the first case, a teacher guides students in a predetermined subject of study. In the latter case, a trainer determines which skills are needed by participants to reach their stated goals and provides opportunities for developing those skills. Adult learners are experienced shoppers and need takeaways that will show them the value of the experience. If you fail to provide something extra, then this can result in missing attendees and even cancelled sessions. With such high stakes and easy losses in the corporate training field, how can your speaker skills help you become a successful trainer? More importantly – what, in particular, do you need to know?

Both speakers and trainers both face the preliminary task of learning about their upcoming audience and its needs, abilities and problems. For many of us, this often means little more than contacting the meeting host to request the information. For a trainer, preparation needs to be more technical and detailed. A trainer’s participants usually have knowledge in their subject area but lack practical, hands-on experience in how to apply it. Trainers will provide them an opportunity to experience the tools and techniques they will need to use their knowledge in the real world. In the corporate world, the trainer’s mark is felt through a student’s performance over the following days, weeks and months. When the students not only match, but surpass, their old productivity, an effective training program pays for itself.

While a speaker may rely solely on one-way communication or perhaps a little dialogue with the audience, this generally won’t work for a trainer. This is where the title “participant” rather than “audience” or “student” comes into play. We need to understand that interaction is crucial in training. If a trainer has no interaction in a training session, very little will be retained or understood. We need to understand that our students will anchor knowledge by repeating. Also, when we engaging the audience, we keep the energy high and the desire to learn more alive. Keep in mind that trainers must prove to the company paying for it that a training program was effective by demonstrating observable changes in the participants’ behaviors.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers we are always looking for new ways that we can grow and expand our skills in order to share the benefits of public speaking. It turns out that one of the ways that we can improve our public speaking skills is to branch out into the field of training. We need to understand that training is actually very different from speaking and the way that we deliver a training session is different from how we would give a speech.

There is a difference between giving a speech and delivering training. If you are a trainer, then you are going to have to make sure that your audience actually learns what you are sharing with them. This means that you are going to have to find ways to engage your audience in what you are sharing with them. Adults can decide to skip your training or get ready to leave early if they so choose. You need to let them know what they can expect to get out of your training. Prior to starting any training you need to take the time to learn who your audience will be. As trainer, your success will be measured by what your students are able to do after they complete your training.

Having mastered the art of giving a speech, it is perfectly natural to want to find other ways that we can use our new found skills. It turns out that the world of training needs people with our types of talents. If you choose to become a trainer, you need to understand that although you may already have a lot of what you’ll need in order to be successful, there are additional skills that you will need to master. Take the time to understand how training is different from giving a speech and you will be able to attract, retain, and educate your audience.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What should you do if in the middle of a training session you believe that you are losing your audience?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

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