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The Difference between Training and Comms


I've recently taken over a Training Team and found that slot of what they do I would class as Comms rather than Training. By this I mean that they are doing things that only require awareness and don't require any change in action or behaviour. Does anyone have any credible definitions I could use to get across to him the difference?

6 Responses

  1. Big Difference

    Hi Howie,

    I guess there is a major difference between the two, but clear on what type of training you are delivering.

    Communication to be is imaprting knowledge on to others which adds to existing knowledge that you want people to act upon.  At the same time though some training can be described as the same, especially technical training.

    Behavioural training is very different, especially when it comes to soft skills.  This type of training is about raising awareness of the individuals need to change.  It’s about changing attitude.

    The other big difference for me is that training involves a range of activities to get the message across which involves the individual.  Communication is more one way where the other person doesn’t really get that involved.

    I hope this starts you off on coming up with two real definitions.



  2. ITOL Glossary


    Firstly, for definitions I’d recommend the ITOL Glossary

    As to the boundaries between L&D and Comms, and also OD, and Knowledge Management, and education, and…
    these are not always clear cut.  Personally, I’m rlaxed about that. I don’t mind too much whether something is notionally classified as training or comms as long as it is clear what the purpose is, that it is done well and that those in the organisation don’t have a beef over whose territory is stills within.

    If we do want to sepearte the two, I don’t think behaviour change alone is a sufficient distinction. My comms colleagues tell me continually that comms is all about behaviour change, and good luck to them. I think you have to look at the intention, the process and the outcome before coming to a common sense judgement about where the weight of argument sits.

    As to whether L&D should be doing awareness training with no behaviour change is a bigger question. I have a bias towards the behaviour change argument, but I wouldn’t rule out awareness training in certain circumstances as long as everyone knows and is happy with what they are getting for their money.


  3. Method of delivery

    Hi Howie,

    I would also think about how is the comms message delivered. A trainer will generally have a greater skill set to help facilitate the message being communicated and help it stick in the recipients mind.

    Therefore although there may be no behavioural change a great trainer can help the communicated message come alive and be better received. As with the other comments its also about what is the most appropriate method of delivery.

    Is it face to face in a training environment, e-learning or even m-learning or a straight forward paper based communication?

    You can then begin to decide if the training team are the best people in the organisation to deliver the message.

    I have delivered plenty of sessions (product updates, policy updates etc) which you may define as comms instead of training, though it was the training team that had the best skill set to deliver the message.

    Hope that helps.



  4. The Difference between Training and Communications

    Hi Howie,

    I guess it all depends on what kind of organisation you’re in and how the training function’s purpose is perceived.

    As a purist, it is inconceivable to me that a business run as a business could ever confuse its training function with a communications function. If your trainers are doing the communicating, what are the line managers doing?

    Again as a purist, I believe that the training function of any organisation is there to add to the bottom line by delivering changed behaviour on the part of staff that creates better products, better services and better results.

    Giving people information and knowledge is not my idea of very good training. It’s like only doing half the job. Giving people knowledge, attitude, and skills, and managing the process to measure the changes before and after to show the value of the intervention, is the province of training.

    When you can do that well, the training function becomes the secret of an organisation’s success.

    Good luck!


  5. most training includes some comms but not all comms is relevant

    For instance, you can communicate a change in the process and procedure for performance management by sending out a simple email or a document………or you could include that communication in a Performance Management Training course, then on that course you might go on to practice skills and change behaviours.

    Most induction is, in fact, pure comms……..personally, I think you can disappear into a flurry of definitions, demarcations and distractions by getting too worried about the differences.


  6. Sometimes clients don’t know what they want and simply label it


    I agree with you on that point.

    I recently met with a potential client (a large council) and in their specification they wanted an L&D person to come in and deliver a number of courses around leading from the front, when in all actuality they wanted a Comms person – someone that could deliver the unsavoury messages and shield the senior management from the associated discontent.


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