If you can’t do it, train …

Here’s a quandary for you: should business training be delivered by expert practitioners who have learned how to train, or by expert trainers who have memorised content of a subject they know nothing about?

If you can't do it, train...

To listen to these learned training “gurus” you’d think experts are mere cannon fodder for trainers who can grasp and teach business writing, brain surgery, astrophysics and Vietnamese cooking all in the same week.

You can’t fail to have noticed that these days I’m doing quite a lot of training – talks and workshops about blogging for business, your personal brand, and more.

Yet something still sticks in my throat from the time a few years ago when someone looked down an elegant, aquiline nose and said to me, “there are lots of good ‘acts’ that are superb as a visiting speaker, but they usually need a professional trainer to interpret the content as training material.”

Doing to train, or training to do

For some reason I can’t quite explain, this really tempted me to retort, “you mean get someone who can’t do it, to teach it?”

I am not a qualified trainer, but a very highly qualified skills sharer who delivers training in my discipline that participants seem to enjoy and gain a lot from.

Needless to say I have done my homework, attending loads of courses and workshops to see what works – and what doesn’t.

[ctt title=”And of course, I write my material in my audience’s language, at their level of technical literacy … ironically that’s part of what I teach them, too.” tweet=”And of course, I write my material in my audience’s language, at their level of technical literacy … ironically that’s part of what I teach them, too.” coverup=”s86A1″]

Yet another time I was brushed off by another member of the elite training fraternity who said “to teach business writing we prefer to use someone who has a known training qualification, who can then memorise what they need to know to teach business writing – rather than use a business writing expert who doesn’t have a training qualification.

Ahem, with all due respect it takes people like me a good few years of practice, you know, practical experience … before we can even say we do the job well, never mind teach someone else how to do it. Yet one of your qualified trainers could pick it up in a couple of days and deliver courses on the subject? I don’t think so.

Start with the expertise – then learn how to train

In fact, apart from attending courses I have been helped enormously in putting my workshops together by a good friend who is an NLP practitioner and personal development coach. Between us we’ve put the “what” (my stuff) together with the “how” (her stuff) and come up with a pretty powerful package.

To me – and hundreds of audience members and workshop participants who have listened to me – that seems like a workable arrangement and a sensible way of delivering practical skills to people who need to learn them.

And because I love spontaneous humour and sharing a few laughs, we all manage to have an enjoyable time. Unlike the many, many workshops and seminars I have attended that were so dreary they made watching paint dry feel like a heart-stopping thrill.

But to listen to these learned training “gurus” you’d think that experts are mere cannon fodder for trainers who can grasp and teach business writing, brain surgery, astrophysics and Vietnamese cooking all in the same week.

What do you think?

Am I going mad, or am I right to feel miffed by this stuffy snobbery on the part of trainers? Or should I have more respect for their chameleon-like ability to memorise and repeat information about absolutely anything, without backing that up with solid knowledge and experience of the subject matter?

Please share your views!

Comments

comments

Thoughts

  1. I think I’d rather have training from someone who knows what they’re talking about – and can answer questions from their depth of experience in the subject. Like you! 🙂

    • Thanks for the kind words, Angela! And I prefer that, too. Even if the expert concerned is not the finest trainer in the world, I’m old enough and ugly enough to read between the lines and gain from his or her experience all the same. Too many professional trainers deliver it in a cookie-cutter fashion which is demoralising. I’ve been to some training events with a very large public sector organisation (no names!) where if anyone asked questions that were not in the trainer’s script, they were politely told to shut up. That’s what I mean when I say that professional trainers who are not organic experts at the subject matter are far too two-dimensional for meaningful business learning…

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  1. […] live (and Heaven help you if you ask a question that’s not in the script: nearly always, the professional trainer won’t know the answer.) So much of it is bland, boring, done to the […]

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