Pete Cowan, Trainer at Kaplan Altior, gives us an insight into communication and advocacy training on Kaplan Altior's Professional Skills Course.
How long have you been a trainer?
I have been a trainer since 1991 in various occupations.
What made you want to be a trainer?
In common with most trainers, I was visited by a burning need to pay the mortgage and so accepted a job helping young people gain I.T. skills. I found that I enjoyed watching someone understand and use the skills that I had passed on to them – I was hooked!
What is the best thing about training?
It's that moment when you see someone understand a concept or grasp a skill, especially if you have had to be creative in the way that you get that knowledge across to them.
Do you notice a change in trainees during the course of the Advocacy & Communication Skills module?
Very much so. They are generally very wary of the public speaking aspect on the first day and by day three they are leaping up and objecting to the other side’s arguments.
Have you ever turned a trainee’s experience around on the Advocacy Module?
The advocacy training course very often surprises trainees. They come with low expectations of themselves (usually generated by false expectations from the telly) and leave having been much more effective than they thought they could be. I often have people who, on day one, say that this is the course that they have been dreading the most. By day three they are asking about doing the Higher Rights course.
How can trainees apply what they learn on the advocacy module to their everyday work?
Despite the course being commonly referred to as Advocacy, it is actually Advocacy and Communication Skills and we try to ensure that some of the core skills of communication are put across in a way that the trainees can use in non-advocate roles. For example, the trainee may never advocate again but they are likely to have to present to clients or colleagues at some point in their working lives. That's where the practical skills gained in the Advocacy and Communications module will come into use. The ability to structure an argument is useful in letter writing, legal drafting and in sorting out who’s turn it is to empty the dishwasher.
What would you recommend for trainees who want to pursue a career in advocacy?
Observe. Go to court and look for good and bad examples of advocacy. If an advocate impresses you, analyse why. Is it the language that they are using? Is it the way they structure arguments? Is it their pacing? If you critically watch advocacy, you will start to put together a toolbox of your own to help you become an effective advocate.
If you would like to talk about your PSC options, or our advocacy training programmes, contact our friendly team on 029 2045 1000.