“If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait till you hire an amateur.”
Investing in yourself not only improves your life, but it improves the lives of all of those around you and is one of the most quoted recommendations from the outrageously successful such as the likes of Benjamin Franklin all the way to Warren Buffet. Seminars and trainings are a great opportunity to do just that and develop your mindset, your skillset, and what you’re able to output in the world. Due to their nature however they often require a significant investment of your time and money, and not all providers are equal.
In the words of Steve Andreas (PhD, Author) who inspired this article “Some ‘trainings’ merely present ideas, rather than actually train you in new skills and abilities. Since most ideas can be presented as well in a book or article, a training of this kind can be a more expensive and time-consuming way to get the same information. Other seminars provide participants with confidence and motivation, but without the behavioral competence to support it. Some seminars are enjoyable, but participants don't leave the training with new skills they can use.”
So how do you identify excellent trainings and avoid the mediocre ones? Read on for the quality control guidelines we use at The Coaching Room when selecting trainings.
Guidelines for excellent trainings:
1. Do the trainers embody the skills they are teaching? Ultimately the only credential that demonstrates credibility is behaviour. Anyone can espouse and talk about a skillset, model or mindset etc. but can the trainer actually embody it themselves? Does the trainer talk about emotional mastery, but show up flustered, frustrated or self-conscious? Does the trainer talk about the importance of flexibility, but respond rigidly? If the trainers do not embody what they teach you are forced to rely on theory and your imagination for your learning rather than direct evidence and experience.
2. Are the trainers successful in the field they are teaching you? Or are they just successful at selling you the field they are teaching? I don’t take my investment advice from the taxi driver, even if he/she is very compelling. Likewise I wouldn’t take the advice of a guru or trainer who isn’t actually experienced or successful in the field they are conducting seminars or trainings on, or writing books about. Some trainers, authors and speakers, even some very famous ones, become successful from selling their book/training about how to become a successful coach, NLP Practitioner, property investor etc. not from actually employing the methods in the book/training they are selling to you. If I am talking to an executive coach who is sharing with me how powerful and important executive coaching is, I want to know then who is coaching them. If I am talking to a financial planner, I want to know if they are investing in the same advice they are giving me. Education is highly questionable when the educator says one something that they can’t provide any evidence of following themselves.
3. Demonstrations & Practical Exercises: Are their live demonstrations of the methods being taught and practical exercises, or is it just a download of information that could read probably for free on the internet? If it’s a skills-based learning like for example coach training, NLP Practitioner training, learning to swim etc. reading or hearing about it isn’t enough. If you want to learn how to swim you need to get wet. The hallmark of a good seminar is that you leave able to do more than when you walked in.
4. Questions: Is there periodic time allocated for QNA? Are questions welcomed and responded to? A good trainer will treat questions and challenges as an opportunity to ground lessons and provide greater depth of learning for the group. An average to poor trainer will discourage questions, respond disrespectfully, or eliminate QNA altogether.
5. Self-accolades and Gurus: I once attended a coach training seminar where the first 15 minutes of a 60 minute presentation were spent listening to the presenter’s credentials and achievements, none of which had anything to do with what I was there to learn. Unless you have specifically asked for it, every minute a trainer spends talking about how amazing they or their achievements are, is a minute of your time you are paying for to not learn anything you can actually use to help you. When a trainer is effective, they don't need to tell you about it they can demonstrate it.
6. Post Program Support: What is your relationship with the provider once the program is finished? Is it non-existent until you pay for another program, or are you a valued part of a community they actively engage and support? The best training providers have comprehensive post program engagement and support options that don’t require you to keep paying just to retain a relationship. The Coaching Room for example sponsors monthly coach training and NLP training practice groups, women in leadership breakfasts, community events run by community members, and allows you to revisit their programs as many times as you like for free.
7. A word on Certificates and Credentials: Don’t get caught up in the hype of certificates and credentials, the trainer’s, or the ones being promised to you at the completion of a course. In heavily regulated industries like accounting for example, your credentials are paramount and you cannot work in the industry without the requisite qualifications. In non-regulated industries like coach training, NLP, self-development and many others, qualifications can give you a degree of comfort that there is a methodology and due process that is backed up by an organizational body that you can research, and has a reputation. Ultimately though when it comes to the crunch, the skills you walk away with are far more important than the piece of paper you receive at the end.
8. Humor: Trainings don’t need to be dry, disengaging ordeals. The best trainers facilitate engagement, and take steps to invite fun and emotion rich environments. The best trainers can laugh, relax and be human whilst provoking your thoughts, engaging your states, challenging your ideas and supporting you through the process.
Wrapping it up
As a training company ourselves, our standards are quite high when we look to develop ourselves through seminars and trainings. These are our baseline criteria for selecting good quality training providers. You may add many more criteria to this list but follow these basic tips and you are bound to find yourself in a quality training.