I don`t know why the training is on your calendar. Maybe you are being told to go. Maybe you don`t even really know what it is about. Maybe you’d rather go to training than be at your desk. Maybe training means a chance to get away from home for a day or two. Maybe you are really looking forward to attending and are excited about it. Or maybe it is some combination of these (and other) reasons.
Regardless of the circumstances and your reasons why, the reality is that you will soon be attending some training. And because you are attending – investing your time (and perhaps your money) and changing your routine, doesn’t it make sense to get the most from the experience that you possibly can?
That is what the rest of this note is about – three practical things you can do before during and after any training event to make it as valuable to you as possible. Each list could be longer – but I’ve picked the most practical and most impactful things you can do. If you do at least some of these things, I promise you will enjoy the training more and get far more from the experience than if you don’t do them. If you do them all, it may be among the best learning experiences of your life.
Before You Attend…
Review the workshop materials. If the trainer has sent you materials, read them. Perhaps it is an outline of the learning objectives or agenda. Looking that over will give you a sense of what is to come and get your mind thinking about how these ideas might benefit you. If pre-reading is offered, reading it will prepare you further. The more prepared your mind is for the subject matter, the more connections you will make during the session, the more you will gain, and honestly, the easier it will be.
Think about what you would like to learn. This is the most important thing you can do before the workshop begins. Think about (and write down) what you would like to learn from the session. Then take your answers to the training with you, reviewing them before the workshop begins (the trainer may ask for some info like this, and if they do, you are already prepared – no last minute pressure!) Ask yourself questions like:
- What would make this worth my time?
- What is my fondest wish for this training?
- What do I expect from this training?
- What is the best possible outcome that could arise from this training?
- What is the biggest question I’d like answered?
Check your attitude. Decide to bring an attitude that will help you learn. Be open-minded. Be positive (or at least not negative). Bring a smile. Think about it: how often have you learned successfully when you were stressed, cynical or negative? Remember that you chose your attitude. Decide now to bring one that will be beneficial, not a barrier to your learning.
While You are There…
Take responsibility for your learning. Yes, there will be a trainer. Yes, they will be “in charge” of the workshop. But you are responsible for your learning, so do what you need to be successful. This could be anything from bringing a sweater if you might get cold, to bringing coffee if you need it, to asking the questions you want answers for. The session is for your learning. Make sure you get what you want and came for, and remove as many barriers from getting that as you can. Ultimately, you are responsible for your learning – so take that responsibility.
Look for application. The most important question you can ask yourself during any training is . . . “How can I use this?” Throughout the session, keep your mind open and your radar out for how you can apply what you are learning. Realize, too, that because you are away from your normal routine, you may get ideas that aren’t even directly related to the training – just consider those a bonus. Look for application, and write those ideas down so you don’t lose them!
Engage in the process. Learning is an active process, so be an active participant. That doesn’t mean you have to answer every question or be the most talkative person in the group – it just means to actively engage in what is going on.
After You Leave…
Decide what you will do next. You may have time to do this before you leave the session. If so, great. If you don’t know that, this is one of the most important of these nine suggestions. Identify the top 1-3 things that you learned and what to apply in your work. Write them down, along with any quick thoughts on your plan of action. Writing these down provides clarity and focus. It also helps your commitment to success.
Teach something to someone else. Take something that was useful or interesting to you and teach it to someone else. When you do that you begin to own the learning for yourself and you understand it better. Plus, you are benefiting someone else – and in teaching them, they might be able to hold you accountable for applying that lesson in your work too!
Take action. You prepared for the session. You activity participated. You even decided what you would like to do. None of that matters unless you actually do something. If you want to get more from the time you have invested in going to training, make sure you try something you learned – until you do that, there is no real return on your investment.
Nine steps – each are easy to do. Collectively they will make the next training you attend more enjoyable and valuable.
Will you do them?
A person who believes in you and your success