Making the Most of Training Events and Conferences
By Tom Herrick
It is training and conference season. Continuing education is imperative, but too often the only take-away from such opportunities ends up on your bookshelf–simply another how-to binder or the speaker’s newly published work.
Consider these tips to make the most of the time, energy and resources you are investing:
- Do your homework
If your training program includes a pre-assignment to be completed before the event, do it! You want to start the learning process on the right foot, instead of feeling like you are playing catch-up from the get-go. (Pre-work also helps you to change from the work-to-learning mode in your brain.)
- Reflect on the outcome you want
Why are you investing in this training? What kind of take-away do you need? Perhaps you want a new or improved skill. Or maybe you need to build your network of go-to associates. Identifying your preferred outcome improves your chances of attaining it.
- Don’t go alone
Often, capturing the material presented at training events is like drinking from a fire hydrant; sometime you just cannot catch everything being taught! Having colleagues or team mates alongside provide two purposes: more ears to hear means more information retained; and it is a great way to get the entire team on the same page—important in any ministry, but particularly in church planting and development.
- Stay “Out of Office”
Be sure to turn off or silence your phone, turn off your email, and only open as many browser windows as are needed for the training. Valuable information is missed when you take your focus on the presenter, and turn it to the technology calling your name.
- Know your learning style
Do you know you normally learn? If you are a visual learner, be sure to position yourself where you can easily see the presenter and any a/v tools. Be sure to take good notes, so you can review and re-read them. If you are an auditory learner, take a seat near the sound booth, where you are guaranteed to hear the speaker well. Perhaps ask the trainer if you can record the session, so you can listen to it again later. Are you a kinesthetic learner? Feel free to doodle away, to illustrate your learnings. Create graphic and charts. Bring along colored pens and highlighters, too!
- Reflect with your team
At breaks, or at the end of each day, carve out time to reflect on what you’ve heard. Ask three questions: What jumped out to you today? How is it helpful to your work? What will you do differently?
- Create an Action Plan
Based on your desired outcomes and daily reflections, develop a plan that includes:
- Specific actions to take over the next X-number-of weeks/months
- When you’ll take the actions
- Identify the reasons you want to take these steps
- Obstacles that might get in the way, and how you’ll tackle the them
- How you’ll reward yourself
- Get a coach
Having a coach to come alongside you is an effective way to accelerate your progress toward a goal. Your coach can help you to keep your desire outcome before you, and help you to develop the plan to get there.
What would you add to this list?