Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

What is a Trainer? What is a Facilitator?

Many organizations call their trainers “facilitators.” But is this an appropriate term when the person in that role mainly “tells”?

Educe,” the root of “educate,” means “to bring out.” That is what great trainers do…but isn’t it also what facilitators do? The root of “facilitate,” is “facile,” meaning to make a process easy. The best trainers seem to make learning easy, don’t they?

It’s no wonder confusion exists. Although great trainers and facilitators share many characteristics and behaviors, their roles and goals differ greatly.

Major Differences Between Facilitators and Trainers

Great Facilitator Great Adult Educator (Trainer)
Is not necessarily a content expert. Is a content expert.
Is an expert in many forms of group process (including conflict resolution, strategic planning, team building, etc.) Is not necessarily expert group process. Instead, uses many instructional methods to enable participants to achieve performance outcomes.
Provides the right questions. Provides the right information.

Both facilitators and trainers use interactive methods, but with different ends in mind. Knowing which role you’re fulfilling is the first step to more effective meetings and training sessions.


8 Responses to “What is a Trainer? What is a Facilitator?”

  1. mentortraining says:

    Thanks so much for all the info.

  2. Rebeccareyes04 says:

    What would you say is the difference between an Instructional System Designer and a Training. What I've noticed in our industry is that ISD professionals are usually responsible for designing training programs that consist of several courses. They are more like school administrators. Whereas, training professionals are instructors. They are more like teachers. ISD professionals, at least in the corporate world, are usually paid more. I'd like to know your thoughts.

  3. guilamuir says:

    ISD professionals are like architects, but most use a pretty standard approach to how they build their houses. They do NOT have to be content experts. Because they are not, they must spend a lot of time gathering information from subject matter experts and other stakeholders so that they can build a relevant training.

    Most trainers don't have a clue how to design a training effectively. That's a HUGE missing link. If they knew more, they'd be better trainers.

  4. Shelter says:

    This is a great piece. Thank you.

  5. Nchenge Eyong says:

    it certainly helped me for my presentation. thanks ma'am

  6. Guila says:

    I am so glad it was helpful to you. Keep up the good work!

  7. […] A thought­ful look at impor­tant dif­fer­ences that impact YOUR prac­tice. […]

  8. Coach Sherri says:

    This is a great article outlining the differences between a facilitator and a trainer. I am a workforce development specialist and, although it is called “training”, I facilitate many workshops to the unemployed and underemployed who are entering the workforce through apprenticeship or internship programs. I always refer to myself as the facilitator because I facilitate the process that they need to evolve, create new habits, and make better choices that will support them in the workplace.

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