A pet peeve of mine: Trainers who either lecture or primarily depend on PowerPoint slides, but who call themselves “facilitators”. Training and facilitation are very different animals.
Different Roles, Different Skills
A trainer absolutely must be a content expert. Surely, the best trainers integrate facilitative techniques to make learning easy, but at core they must “know their stuff” intimately.
Great facilitators need not be content experts. In fact, sometimes those who run meetings the best are those who know least about the subject. Instead, they focus on the quality of the process itself.
This chart shows the core differences between being a content expert and a facilitator.
Content Expert or Facilitator?
|Presents Information||Guides Process; Ensures Multi-Directional Communication|
|Provides the Right Answers||Provides the Right Questions|
|Clear Purpose (and Learning Outcomes if Training)||Clear Outcomes for the Group’s Process|
I like to categorically use the word “trainer” when I speak of an adult educator or teacher, and “facilitator” when I speak of someone who leads meetings.
If you are a trainer, your best bet is to combine the roles shown in the chart. This will ensure you’re doing your job as a content expert while eliciting robust engagement and involvement. If you are a facilitator, remember to overtly clarify when you must switch roles to provide information. Nothing is sure to shut out engagement than your unexpectedly starting to tell instead of ask.
Let’s make a pact right now to always be clear on what role we are embodying. Are we training? Or are we running a meeting? Our understanding makes the process more clear, and easier, for everyone.
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