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4 Reasons Why You Should Never Use “Facilitator and Trainer” Interchangeably

President Of TrainSmart, Inc.

What Is The Difference Between Facilitators & Trainers?

Clients may often confuse the job titles of facilitators and trainers, despite their distinct differences. This is a common occurrence in corporate culture, where job titles are frequently changed and updated, such as with HR, directors, and secretaries.

In recent years, some corporate training departments have adopted the title of “facilitator” to distinguish themselves from personal fitness trainers.

While the motivation to swap a trainer title with a facilitator title may have been for the purest professional motives, the result causes confusion. Why? Because facilitators and trainers are responsible for handling very different tasks

Oh, and to add to the confusion cluster, it’s not uncommon for someone who is a professional facilitator sometimes to do training and vice versa.

So, what is the difference between
a facilitator and a trainer?

The roles of a facilitator and trainer differ in four key areas:

1. The Goals of the Session

Training and facilitation have very different goals. Facilitation is “the art of helping adults learn through self-discovery.” It is used for brainstorming, strategic planning, team building, board meetings, and focus groups.

The goal of training, on the other hand, is to provide participants with knowledge and skills to use in their current jobs.

2. The Focus of the Session

In a facilitated session, the focus is on the participants. A facilitated session may be used to problem-solve an issue; deal with a group dynamic that is interfering with the team’s effectiveness, and make collective decisions. Through the facilitator’s skills, the group can think more strategically, clearly, and effectively by coming up with their own solutions.

In a training session, the focus is on the presenter/trainer. The trainer is the Subject Matter Expert. They control what is being presented, and it is their job to transfer their knowledge to the participant through lectures and interactive activities.

3. Audience Involvement

The nature of a facilitated session demands high participation from all attendees. People’s opinions are key to the success of the session. Participants will be asked questions and feedback from everyone is expected. The outcome of the session is dependent on the group’s participation.

In a training session, success is not dependent on the entire group’s participation. Getting people’s opinions and viewpoints is not necessarily important. The participants are there to watch, listen and practice the new skills. It is a more individualized success than groupthink success.

4. Tools and Materials

When someone is asked to facilitate, they typically start by researching the issue being discussed. For the facilitated session, they bring tools like a meeting agenda, flip chart, whiteboard, and some supporting documentation.

When someone is asked to conduct a training session, they need an entirely different set of tools and materials. Trainers almost always come equipped with participant guides, handouts, PowerPoint presentations, or actual equipment for hands-on training.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while the terms “facilitator” and “trainer” are sometimes used interchangeably in corporate culture, there are important differences between the two roles. Facilitators focus on helping adults learn through self-discovery and are often used in brainstorming, strategic planning, and team-building sessions.

On the other hand, trainers are subject matter experts who provide participants with knowledge and skills to use in their current jobs. The audience involvement in a facilitated session is high, whereas, in a training session, success is more individualized.

The tools and materials required for each role also differ significantly. While confusion may arise from the interchangeable use of these titles, it is important to recognize the distinctions between the two roles to ensure their effectiveness in achieving their respective goals.

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