Why communications training is essential
By Jillian Mikolaizyk / March 21, 2023 / effective communications, leadership, making a difference
We live in a world of constant change. Staying abreast of what is happening in our industries and communities is very important, especially when we think about the kinds of knowledge and the types of skills we need to succeed in life.
Training is a critical part of staying up-to-date in any field, from technology to healthcare and even hospitality. And every field can benefit from communications training.
Teaching employees how to communicate is essential and makes perfect sense if you are considering any kind of program to enhance employee skills. Besides technical skills, or even interpersonal relationship skills, knowing how to talk with people, how to prepare a written message or write a presentation demands unique skills that not everyone has naturally.
When considering communications training, there are some obvious challenges to consider, whether it be how best to present the course, what types of interactive exercises might you devise and how best to engage people so that they retain something from the time spent in training.
The other big consideration is just what type of communication training makes the most sense for you and your organization. This can depend on much your team is customer facing as well as whether being able to communicate makes the job easier.
There are many areas of this fairly broad topic that can be tackled, especially if you are working with a coach or consultant who can help instill the needed message or messages. Good topics come in many forms but here are a few to consider, again depending on the specific need of your organization and the scale and intensity of certain types of communication:
- Effective business writing
- Making a presentation
- Hosting effective meetings
- Using social media professionally
- Public relations and the media
- Crisis communications
- Understanding what “brand” is
- Developing a company newsletter
- Importance of visual elements
- Networking with colleagues and others
- Dealing with an unhappy client
This isn’t the right place to explain each of these potential training classes in any depth, but when you have developed an understanding of what is important for you and your company, the focus of your communications training can zero in on what you want to achieve.
Make it a priority
Every company communicates whether they realize it or not, so make training a priority. Your message may begin with the way you are visually presenting yourselves with a building sign, it may be how your LinkedIn page or Facebook looks and reads, it may be when a customer calls and someone has to answer the phone and respond appropriately.
There are often many critical touch points, even if you are not in the hospitality industry, that need to be considered, and often these can be specifically trained.
Let’s look at one type of training that you might not at first glance think is important in this era of short social media posts or quick email replies: business writing.
Effective business writing can play a role in many ways at your company and truly connects with a number of the topics mentioned above. Without good writing, preparing a presentation can be a challenge; without good writing, even social media posts can be awkward or even damaging; without good writing, it is hard to deal with the media and answer questions during a potential crisis; and without good writing, communicating even just to your employees presents unique challenges.
So, clearly effective writing is something worth focusing on. Let’s face it, though, not everyone can be a good writer. Still, the ability to communicate is something we all have to do during our jobs, whether it is with a colleague or a customer.
The Three Ts of Learning
A good way to look at this is your potential teams and the intertwining of the three Ts – talent, training, teaching. Talent requires something of the employee, effort and commitment to the process. Training is really a specific way to teach, and not all teaching is training. To teach is to share knowledge and even tricks of the trade, while training is focused on a specific topic or technique that needs to be known by the participants.
Teaching and training come together a lot when it comes to communications, since being able to write down and share an idea is already inherent to each of us. Words matter, stories are important and conveying this takes more than just a set of practical guidelines or dos and donts. Writing these down helps, training the obvious is important, but teaching the not-so-obvious becomes essential.
Bringing it all together, then, can require practical exercises as well as “head knowledge.” The training part plays a key role in doing just that, and when it comes to communicating, hiring a dedicated professional who knows the craft can be both practical and personal directly from their experiences.
Sometimes we train by focusing on what not to do, the mistakes to avoid. This can work only so far, so a forward-looking approach to what “we do” is even better and lays out a positive reason for why the training will help.
Training is never over when the session is complete. Follow-up training can be effective as well as finding ways for your staff to use what they have learned. This again requires a commitment by the company to take the effort beyond just a one-off session as well as listening to the staff on the receiving end of the training.
It is also helpful to find ways to measure the success of training and seek feedback from the participants who have to take in and utilize what they have learned.
Focusing on communications training will prepare you and your team for a potential crisis, make them work together on a daily basis and provide a consistent, effective way to share information internally as well as externally.