Photo by: Dean Mitchell via Canva
In a recent conversation with a course participant, the issue of terminology came up. This participant was concerned when asked to “facilitate” a session with over 200 people. It turns out, the purpose of this session was to deliver information on a new product—a “presentation,” not a facilitated session.
The terms training, facilitating, and presenting are often used interchangeably when, in fact, they differ depending on the purpose of the session. The purpose will determine the structure of the session and the skill set used to deliver it.
The purpose of a training session is for learners to acquire knowledge and skill for use in their current job. In a facilitated session, the participants are guided through a process that might include generating ideas, analyzing the concepts, solving a problem, or even making a decision. A presentation is a session where information is delivered to the audience to inform, persuade, inspire, or even entertain. All three can take place virtually or in a face-to-face environment.
Trainers might use a facilitative style in a training session where they act as more of a “guide on the side” versus a traditional trainer, but if the purpose of the session is for learners to acquire knowledge and skill, then it is still training. In addition, a trainer might deliver a lecture to present information in a training session. Again, suppose the purpose is to acquire knowledge and skill. In that case, the presentation will provide the expertise and should be followed by some practice and feedback for the learners to develop their skills, resulting in training.
If a trainer delivers a lecture and nothing more follows, then information has been presented, but no training has occurred. Recently, a participant in one of my classes came to me after discussing the purpose of training. They said, “I just realized that I’ve been a trainer for five years but, for those five years, I haven’t actually trained anyone.” In their situation, they were unable to follow their presentation with practice and feedback so, in effect, they were a presenter, not a trainer. They stopped calling their sessions training and called them information sessions instead because this better identified the intent of the sessions.
My point is, call it what it is. Some great presenters are very dynamic in delivering presentations, and some skilled trainers use a facilitative style. Still, we always need to think of the purpose of the session to determine if it’s training, facilitation, or a presentation.
So, trainers, how many of you are really delivering training?