NLP Training Courses are a huge investment of time and money, picking the right trainer is essential. There are lots of NLP training courses and NLP trainers out there. Add in all the NLP practitioners and NLP master practitioners that are running courses and seminars and you have a whole range of choice.
NLP Trainers Not NLP Training Courses
By the end of this article, you will have a number of ideas and questions to ask your prospective NLP trainer so you can get an idea if you want to invest a large amount of money and time with them. There are some half truths and biases that are pointed to by some trainers to get you to favour their NLP Practitioner Course, we will examine some of them and how you can best judge the value for yourself.
This article is not focused on picking a good NLP course. There are a lot of articles on the internet and also this is largely a matter of choice. For example, you may prefer large numbers over small numbers and a course run a few days a month over an intensive seven or nine days. There are good and bad points to all of this and it is largely a matter of choice. You will find that each of the articles you read are biassed towards the perspective of the writer, but if you read several then you will easily get a balanced view. Accept that my bias and judgements are in this article.
My feeling is that so long as there are some fundamental checks on the NLP course content the real issue is about whether you will get the most from your trainer. So we will examine how you can test your trainer to decide if they are worth you consideration.
NLP Courses – A Brief Discussion
Firstly let us deal with the fundamentals that should be in place and some home truths about the state of Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner Training Courses.
The simple fact of the matter is that there are no standards except those that have been set out by self-appointed bodies for commercial interests. That doesn’t mean that there are not good courses, but it does explain the variation of content and standards. Don’t assume that because a course is being certified by a particular organisation that it actually means anything other than the trainer(s) has been certified through that organisation. The content and standard of delivery is left very much to the trainers that are involved.
Some companies make a big deal of the number of days and if it is an intensive or extensive course. So long as the content delivered is relevant then the real issue here is you learning preferences. I run intensive NLP Practitioner Training Courses because it suits my training and my learning style. Whilst I believe this is the best approach I also know that a certain percentage of my possible market does not learn the same way and therefore I recommend that they find another type of course to suit them better.
The same is true of the number of delegates. Again I prefer small numbers so I can get in between the delegates, get to really know them as individuals and tailor the course to suit their needs. But some people would much prefer being part of a larger crowd and having many people to interact with. So we come back to a matter of preference. The only issue here is ensuring that you will get the level of attention you want, so be sure to check the assistant to delegate ratio. Most organisations like to run with one assistant to every six delegates as this gives a good level of help without feeling too stifled.
The important thing here is to check the content is real and relevant to you. From the outset you would be best served by working out your key objectives and what you would like to gain from the course and matching this with the course content. This might not seem easy from the marketing literature, particularly when a lot of NLP courses wax lyrical about being able to do everything better through NLP. I agree in general principle with the previous sentence not all courses are equal in the emphasis the put on each element. Also just having a set of tools doesn’t make you a plumber. If you are predominantly a counsellor then you should go on a course that is geared to counselling and similarly if you are involved with management and business then my course would be a good one to consider along with other NLP Business Practitioner Courses.
Also just having a set of tools doesn’t make you a plumber. If you are predominantly a counsellor then you should go on a course that is geared to counselling and similarly if you are involved with management and business then my course would be a good one to consider along with other NLP Business Practitioner Courses.
The Games NLP Trainers Play
There are a couple of misconceptions some trainers use to fiddle things in their direction. A common one in recent times with the NLP business community is stating they have more trainers in the room as if this is some sort of huge benefit. I have delivered and seen many co-trained courses. Some of the best trainers do co-facilitate, Richard Bandler is an obvious example. But my general experience of co-facilitated courses is not a good one.
There is usually one of three reasons why there are more than one trainer in the room.
The first is because the lead trainer is not confident of delivering for themselves. The second is that one of the two trainers is being developed and could not handle groups without a more experienced colleague being there. The final reason is that they want to have breaks from the group and are not planning to both be in the room at the same time. In all of these cases, the delegates are not necessarily being short changed, but it is a different perspective from some sort of a huge added benefit.
The problem that can occur with this approach is that you are getting different views and perspectives on complex subjects whilst still learning the foundations. Foundations are better set with a coherent view that can then be modified with new or differing opinions.
This problem can be ramped up to bizarre levels with several trainers involved all at once. Imagine the situation where three or four different trainers are all training the same course all with their own views, skill levels and ways of doing things. Imagine the lack of coherence, the different approaches, views and beliefs and the huge shifting sands whilst you are trying to lay the foundations of good learning.
In my early days of delivering NLP in Scotland I assisted in the development of several junior trainers. An experienced trainer, usually myself, was always in the room to provide the continuity of learning that the delegate deserved and a safety net in case the junior trainer lead them astray. The delegates got a good course and several of the trainers benefited from the experienced to the degree that several are very successfully running NLP courses in Glasgow.
As with everything the exception proves the rule PPD Learning run some spectacularly good courses with some of the best NLP trainers in the industry and they do it exceptionally well. If you are the type of person that needs a lot of different trainers then I would recommend looking at these guys, because whilst there could be all the pitfalls mentioned above you will also see some brilliant trainers.
Asking a few questions of your trainer(s) should sort you out with their approach and you can smoke out the issues if they are using several trainers. We will discuss how you can find out if they use multiple trainers well a little later in this article.
Base Line Expectations – NLP Trainer(s)
Once you have decided on the type and size of course you will need to get to know something of the trainer. Let us assume you have checked they are qualified and are delivering appropriate content and are ready to consider the deeper issues.
If you can, you should get to speak to the trainer before deciding on a particular course, just to check out some things about them. The key consideration for you would be the question “Can I learn from this person? Do they have the depth of knowledge to be able to explain things so I can use them for my applications?” Failing this check their website, read their blogs and books with these same questions in mind.
I would expect any good trainer of NLP to be able to build rapport with you and be extremely persuasive. These are core NLP skills and any trainer should be well accomplished at them. It is for this reason I would suggest that you need to dig a little deeper to really decide if this is the trainer for you. If there are several trainers then you should really do this with all of them.
Don’t allow the excuse of only talking to the lead trainer. Suppose for a moment that only a quarter of the course is being delivered by another trainer…would you be satisfied with the course if, by chance this other trainer did not suit your learning style? If there is more than one trainer in the room you should make the effort to understand all of them and even more importantly how they manage the relationship between them for the delegates…more of that later.
Themes, Beliefs and Preferences
All trainers have their own perspectives on life, the universe and NLP. These will come shining through on the course and will provide the general approach. For example I am a pragmatist with an engineering background and came into Hypnosis and NLP for two reasons. The first was about accelerated learning and the second was influence and persuasion skills in high pressure environments. I have experience in the corporate world and in highly confrontational environments. Finally I had to learn to sell at the same time as learning NLP formally, so this was a natural integration for me. All of this has shaped the courses I deliver.
If you are looking for a course with lots of spirituality, finding your inner self and healing the earth mother…then my course really is not for you. If you want hard nosed, pragmatic solutions, ways of dealing with difficult people, getting what you want and quickly then my approach is a good one. Ask your trainer about the common themes, beliefs and flavour of the course, it will make a big difference.
If there is more than one trainer delivering ask them both the same. They should have discussed it between themselves and should have recorded their agreement frames for the whole course. Ask to see what common frames, beliefs and values they have agreed and are going to deliver.
I would certainly ask questions about their experience both inside and outside NLP. The sad fact is that an NLP trainer’s certificate can be bought and you could go from knowing nothing about NLP to being a qualified NLP trainer inside six weeks.
With this in mind ask them questions about when they qualified in NLP, how long they have been training, what other training qualifications and experience they have had.
In addition ask them about their experience outside of the training environment. For example if you are looking to use this material as a therapist then you might want to pick a trainer that has a therapy background. If you are looking to use NLP in business then ask your prospective trainer how long they have been in the corporate environment, what their role was and what level did they reach and what levels they train at. Look for them having some common background and experience that relates to your specific applications.
One area I specialise in is developing trainers and coaches. This is simply because I have had to set up corporate programmes for both and have an extensive amount of experience delivering to coaches and trainers.
When you are asking these questions be careful about how they might fudge the issue. Some common statements I have heard include:
Telling delegates that they are responsible for working out how to apply the material, the trainer is just to deliver the content (this is drivel…application is the key to learning this material.)
“That’s why we have two trainers I have experience in (x) and my partner in (y)” (ask if you can just stay for the bits that you are directly interested in. If you are there to learn NLP for business for example why would you want to spend 50% of your time talking to someone who only has experience of NLP in therapy?)
Ask for suitable reference clients from whatever role, industry or application you are looking for so you can directly find out if the material was delivered in a way that was meaningful and relevant, more on this later.
Integration of Neuro Linguistic Programming Skills
I have overseen the development of many trainers both in and outside the NLP UK community. One expectation I place on them is to be continually learning, growing and developing their skills as trainers, but particularly for the NLP crowd…outside this environment. Anyone serious about NLP should be picking up new skills constantly. Ask your prospective NLP trainer what new areas are they diversifying into, what new hobbies they have taken up and where are they learning to apply their skills to.
Careful they don’t give you a lame answer here. A few NLP Trainers in Scotland would make a claim they are and have learnt lots about Search Engine Optimisation for example, or how they have grown some new arm of business…whilst this is all great stuff, this is also just a direct part of their continuous professional development. This sort of thing I would expect from everyone working in the development field.
What you are really looking for is some spark of creativity, lateral thought and the passion for learning and applying NLP to everything. The reason you are looking for this is because it is a good gauge of how well they have integrated NLP into their lives. You will only get as much from your course as the trainer has to give. If your trainer has boxed NLP into a small area of their lives, as a role model they will be encouraging you to do the same and you are spending lots of time and money on this course so shouldn’t you have the best and broadest picture.
I would like to think my NLP trainers are using their skills to the maximum. This would include learning and qualifications so check out your prospective trainer’s qualifications. I take it as read that they have all their NLP qualifications, but a strong element of NLP is about accelerating your learning, so I would expect any NLP trainer to have an armful of degrees, post graduate qualifications and a general mix of certificates outside of just NLP. This is a good indicator of your trainer’s mastery over the subject of NLP, but again be careful a NLP trainer in Glasgow has been noted as trying to pass off his Master Practitioner Certificate as a Masters Degree.
Confidence in their training course, confidence in their NLP skills
Asking questions about what makes their course good, unique and why should you pick them over the other courses in the area. This will give your prospective trainer the opportunity to really shine. They can take you through their sales process demonstrating their hypnotic influencing skills. Ask them to deconstruct the process as they go. This will give them the chance to also demonstrate their training skills by explaining what they are doing with you as well.
If they are fobbing you off, you know that they are either unethical in their sales process or do not have the skills to demonstrate and explain in a live environment. If they say something about not believing that NLP should be used for sales and you believe them, you have a good idea of some of the operating constraints they will put on you for using the skills they will be training you in. Whatever answer they give you will have a rich source of behaviour on which to base your opinion on.
Ask them about the competition in the area, what types of roles and people they won’t allow on the course and where do they send them. Any good NLP trainer will be able to tell you the strengths and merits of the local competition. They probably won’t talk about the bad elements of other courses because this would be unfair and doesn’t set a good image, but what makes the competitor’s course good is an answerable question. Careful you don’t get the fudged answer about courses that are miles away or in another country. This is a neat trick I have seen a few trainers try. Get them to talk about local competition. You are not looking for a recommendation, just to see if your prospective trainer has the confidence in their own product to be able to stand it against the best of the opposition as they see it. If they are bad mouthing the competition without any balance about what is good consider if you would want someone with that attitude training you.
An interesting trainer who runs NLP Training Courses in Glasgow has a website where he bad mouths all his previous delegates that are now delivering NLP training in Scotland. Further on in his website he then explains how much support he gives people coming on his courses. If you spot these sorts of incongruent behaviour be on guard.
Get your prospective trainer to give you some hints or tips around a specific application that you have. This is another chance to let them shine. A good trainer with experience of your context will be full of good ideas about what you can do differently to get better results. Don’t accept a general NLP technique or tool; get into the depths of how specifically you can use this for your application. This gives you the opportunity to see how well your prospective trainer can explain things to you in a way that is applicable for you. If they can’t do this well then what chance do you have of getting good answers when there is a room full of delegates all with their individual needs. Any good trainer will relish the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and you will get some great responses as well as some ideas of what you could do differently for a better result.
Always ask for reference clients that have similar contexts or applications as you. Ask them about any agenda or benefits they might have with the trainer. If they have this does not make what they have to say invalid, it just keeps everything clear and in the open.
When you speak to a reference client start by focusing on the results they have achieved post course. Check on what specific skills they have gained and how they are using them. This will give you an idea of what they have gained from the course. This is probably the most important information for you.
From here ask them about their experience of the course. What they liked, didn’t like, what they would change about the course, how they related to the trainer. This information will give you some idea of what you will go through. Also ask and get a feel for the level of post course support they get.
Finally ask them about their decision making process to go on this course. What criteria did they use to pick this particular trainer and course? Gaining this information will give you some idea of how compatible their decision making process is with yours.
Whilst this seems a lot of effort the reality is that your NLP practitioner course is a huge investment of time, money and effort. You deserve to get the best course for you. There are no rights and wrong answers to any of the points I have gone through, but hopefully it will give you some questions to ask, some thoughts to ponder and a method for getting a more informed choice.
I am biased and have an agenda. I like to think that I run a great course that goes way beyond standard NLP practitioner level and that it is suitable for you. In truth I know that some people will not benefit from it and I wish them well for the course that they do choose. And for those that would seriously benefit from my course I hope that they find me and ask me all the points in this article before deciding I am the best choice for them.
Picking the right NLP Practitioner Training Course for you will make a substantial difference to your life. You will be expanding your personal and professional success in ways you might only have dreamed about. For this reason alone you might want to take the time to get the right course. I would like to think that this article will have helped in some small measure. Feel free to call my office for further information or to talk through any of these points as they relate to the course you are deciding on.