Speaking is not teaching. Teaching is not training. But all three are opportunities to help your audience learn. What will make you brilliant in creating products and programs is understanding the differences and benefits of those opportunities. What will make you profitable is knowing which one of those delivery methods is your strength and how to use them to help your VIPs and clients.
I remember the first time I thought about becoming a speaker. I was a site manager with Americorps and we were at a team building retreat. I don’t remember the speaker or the group he was with, but I do remember hearing the word self-efficacy for the first time. That one word inspired three new programs I would lead at Gillespie Middle school with my team. The speaker left me inspired and fired up. I remember feeling like I was ready to change the world. I wanted to ignite people like that. That’s what speaking is all about: sharing ideas, experiences, and stories that ignite people to take action or see things in a new way.
A colleague of mine is a great speaker. Early in his career someone told him that since he likes to talk and is really good at talking, he should be a teacher. The person took that advice and invested time in pursuing teaching credentials only to find out that he didn’t like teaching at all. While he did enjoy talking, he didn’t like being responsible for whether people learned something. True teaching is objective-focused and has some form of evaluation, whether it is formal or informal. A good teacher makes sure there is something in place to assess whether or not learners understand and know the material. Brilliant teachers have a deep understanding of their learners, solid practical experience and a growing knowledge of their topic.
You may be able to do research and put together a presentation on skydiving, but you can’t teach someone about skydiving unless you’ve practiced it yourself. Even if you’ve done it once – that doesn’t mean you know enough to teach it to someone else. You may be able to tell them what you’ve done, but you don’t have enough practical experience to teach them. Teaching is not just telling people what to do, it’s showing them how, explaining why and ensuring that they have the correct knowledge to adapt if needed. This is why so many people are frustrated when they buy a product or attend a “workshop” but only walk away with information – most of which they could have dug up on their own with a little research online.[Tweet “Information without transformation is worthless. “]
Most training professionals will tell you that this question is the bane of their work life. What most people label as training is really teaching: giving people information and knowledge and making sure they “know” it. Think back to most of the “training” you received at work. It was probably a lot of talking, a lot of reading, a lot of multiple choice questions. They might have even gotten creative and included some scenarios or case studies. They may have even guided you through a manual and a slide deck. That’s not training. Real training involves practice.
Training gives learners an opportunity to apply the knowledge they have gained as a result of teaching. And the best training allows them to practice in the exact environment they will be expected to perform in. Let’s go back to the skydiving example. Practicing how to use the parachute while standing on the ground is not the same thing as practicing in an indoor skydiving wind tunnel.
Right now lots of people are clamoring to add the label “Speaker” to their title. Top speakers, motivational and business, can make really good money. And the more charismatic they are, the more visibility they get. But everyone is not that kind of speaker. I used to shy away from speaking because I thought I had to have the same kind of energy that many motivational speakers seem to have. I am not one to come dancing down the aisle and pump the crowd up with enthusiastic chants. But I do motivate people by sharing my perspective and knowledge based on my experience. If you wold love to speak but are afraid that you are not as “charismatic” as those you see in the field, be assured that there is space and a need for all kinds of energy on the platform.
Maybe you enjoy teaching more than you do speaking. You want more than 45-minutes so you can really get into your topic and ensure your learners really get it. If that feels more comfortable to you, seek out opportunities to do longer break out sessions. Or better yet, create your own classes where you can teach to your heart’s content. I love teaching and helping my clients and learners figure out how to apply ideas, techniques, and strategies to their business. I also know how to structure content for maximum learning: I not only studied it in undergrad and graduate school, but I did in in corporate america for over 12 years after being a school teacher.
If you enjoy deeper engagement that focuses on mastering a specific skill, strategy, technique, tool or system, then training is your sweet spot. Even though I spent many years as a “training specialist,” training is my least favorite role because my strengths are in strategy and idea generation. Brilliant training involves repeated practice and ongoing feedback over a set period of time. Individuals that are really good at training love spending time creating detailed instructions and guiding people step by step through a process or system. I’m better at explaining how the system works, why it works, how it applies to you, and how you can use it based on my experience, education, and research. I can be a good trainer – I did it for years, but I don’t enjoy it as much as I love teaching and speaking.
I worked with a brilliant woman who made a big investment in a program that was going to teach her how to make money from webinars. The “teacher” showed her what she had done to create her own webinar, and then gave templates, a list of resources, and a timeline. Then she told them to get busy building their webinar. The “teacher” never explained that you needed to have a marketing strategy in place, or why having an active email list would be important to selling a webinar. She also never taught the importance of having a solid online presence when trying to sell something online. And most importantly, she didn’t teach about the importance of knowing your audience. So this brilliant woman was trying to promote a paid webinar to corporate executive women via Facebook with no email list, 3 blog posts, and no promotional partners. You can guess what her results were.
At the other extreme, we have lots of people offering training without teaching. Maybe you’ve been trained on how to find LinkedIn groups and join them to expand your network. But were you taught about the kind of LinkedIn groups you should join, the best kinds of content to share, and how to convert the connections you make into real leads and referral partners. Probably not? I see so many people that are excited about having the training to post to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and even You Tube because they heard someone speak about using those platforms. But since no one has taught them how those platforms work and why they work, they get frustrated with their results.
Most of us are a combination of speaker, teacher, and trainer. But for some, one of two of those things might not be your strengths. It is possible to be a brilliant teacher but an ineffective speaker. Or maybe you are a great teacher, but horrible at training. Wherever you are and however you prefer to share your expertise with the world, know that there is space for you exactly as you are. You don’t have to fit into a mold of what you think professional speaker needs to act like and sound like. And if you have been trying to do that and failing at it, this is your official invitation to give yourself permission to step into your authentic purpose and role.
No matter what you suits you, make a decision to invest in sharpening your skills and equipping yourself with the right tools, techniques, and resources.
In the next post, I’ll share how speaking, teaching, and training are connected to your Bankable Brilliant Profile. If you haven’t taken the Find Your Brilliant Zone quiz, click here to download a free copy.
Tai Goodwin on a mission to help 10,000 women entrepreneurs create more joy and wealth in their life and business. She's the CEO of Aligned + Bankable and creator of the Bankable Brilliance Course. An intuitive business growth strategist and teacher, her specialty is helping clients create bankable business models that allow them to increase their impact and income without burning out. Tai is a former corporate trainer with a master's degree in instructional design and over 20 years of experience designing course, training programs, and certifications. She is also the author of Girlfriend, It's Your Time and founder of Brilliant Business Girlfriends.