Communication training is a wide ranging subject; and while we have specific courses which are designed to achieve specific goals, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

Our public speaking course aims to address the issues of those who, while nervous, need to speak to a number of people and must appear to be cool, calm and confident. It covers how to organise your material, present it to the best effect and what strengths you already demonstrate. And I know that some people would doubt that we could achieve that goal in one day – but it is highly effective and has demonstrated incredible improvement in the participants, leaving them with a knowledge that their skills are sustainable if they accept the need to practice.

People attend who are facing a speech at a wedding perhaps, or a presentation at work that they are terrified of. In fact there are a number of reasons why people need to speak in public; and over the years we have refined our course until it is able to meet just about all of their needs.

And when we give it to companies who would like to improve their staff’s communication skills it is also highly effective and appreciated; unless the core problem is different to what we expected. Sometimes, an organisation believes that their problem is basic communication skills, but when we get into the topic we realise that, yes public speaking skills are going to help, but the real nitty gritty is something else again.

What to do? Well, what we do is throw out the carefully prepared programme and give them what is necessary to solve their problem. I don’t think we could call ourselves professional communication trainers unless we had the ability to do that. The real problem will have to do with communication, but possibly not exactly public speaking; and if we fail to address the real problem we have failed to improve their communication.

This reality came to the fore at a recent training session we presented for the sales team at Ritek Building Solutions, here on the Sunshine Coast. We went prepared to deliver our highly successful “Public Speaking Skills” workshop, to an experienced sales team. While, I was surprised to find that they readily admitted to nerves prior to presentation (but then who doesn’t? I still do!) -it soon became evident that underlying their concerns was a real communication problem that had little to do with speaking in public, and a lot to do with skills from a training room.

We had no hesitation in throwing out the carefully prepared sequence, and concentrated on the real problem that was of concern. It meant that from then on we had to improvise and reorganise, rearrange and delete some stuff so that we could meet the time frame. But we succeeded in giving them the information that they needed to solve their problem – and isn’t that what training is all about. Identifying the problem and providing the skills to solve them?

I thought that was self evident, until I mentioned how exhilarating it was to make it up on the run, so to speak, to another trainer (not I hasten to add a member of Trischel’s staff!) who didn’t agree. He was quite adamant that he provided enough information to his clients for them to understand what was covered, and what was in the programme outline was what he delivered.

Now I understand that if the course is an accredited one it is essential that the NTIS modules are covered. After all accreditation or qualification indicates that you have achieved the required competencies against the criteria; but communication is not like that. Often we do not understand what the problem is, until we realise what it isn’t!

The group at Ritek realised that they had a problem, and believed that public speaking skills would solve it. But when we started into the programme it became obvious to us and to them that while these skills would certainly enhance what they were doing – what they needed to address the real issue was other skills entirely not covered in this particular workshop.

We could, I suppose, have said we would not change the programme, but of what value would that have been to them? Both Trish and I believe, quite passionately, that we have a real service to provide, and a service needs to address the real problems. So that’s what we do.

True, it needs a special type of trainer to do that; One with the sure knowledge of the real issues and a complete knowledge of the subject so that they can offer the right solution for the real problem. Luckily, Trish and I have worked hard to achieve an in depth knowledge of business communications, and we have not yet had to admit defeat!

But what would happen if the real problem was beyond us, my less flexible colleague asked. Well – we would find the answer, write a new programme, and deliver it free of charge to the company. And we would add that new knowledge to our existing store and be prepared for that problem again in the future.

It’s Trischel’s way … real solutions for real communication problems. I can’t see us ever changing – can you Trish?

Michele @ Trischel

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