In the training and development arena, there are trainers, facilitators, and keynote speakers. Often the terms are used interchangeably as organizations just want someone “to present”. But for those who perform the services, these three functions are very different.

A keynote speaker often delivers a one-way message with limited audience participation. A trainer can provide material in an engaging manner, but that person still provides the majority of the content. A facilitator utilizes their skills to draw out and frame the insights from others, serving as a process conductor more than a content provider.

I see these three roles as a metaphor for leaders in organizations. A keynote-type leader is more hierarchical and predominantly delivers information to subordinates in a one-way manner. A trainer-type leader involves staff in some of the interactions, but they still rely on the boss for providing and controlling the overall information flow. A facilitator-type leader dedicates more energy establishing parameters to allow others the freedom to work independently within them. The facilitator-type leader creates output in concert with others rather than imparting something that is pre-determined.

Just as presenters are more suited and talented in one of the three styles, so leaders naturally gravitate to the way that is most comfortable for their temperament. All are necessary and appropriate in the right situation; the key is being intentional to match the need and culture with the right type.

Are you a keynoter, trainer or facilitator – and what does your organization need from you?



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