I got the email. I saw the post and followed the links. Bright web-pages outlined lively agendas. Booked. In the diary. Looking forward to it. And then – the great disappointment of the day itself. Or even worse…. the two days, which you will never get back and which you have little to show for.
Too many business events, training programmes, conferences and seminars suffer the curse of ‘E over E’ – where the E of our ‘expectations’ are way above the E of our ‘experience’. Too often, one leaves feeling short-changed of your investment in precious time and hard-earned money. When it is your own cash, we know that as an entrepreneur or small business owner, the hurt is even more acute. Do I hate business education, conferences, seminars and events? Far from it. I take my own medicine and I am willing to pay for great events, relevant education and smart experiences. When not running trainign workshops and seminars I attend a lot of them and I love connecting to new ideas, people and knowledge and the focus the best ones give me. I have been building, facilitating and managing training programmes, seminars, events and workshops for fifteen years, so I am always on the hunt for better ways to run them too.
A well-structured training programme, seminar, event or conference is often where the ‘real work gets done’; it is where we can gain the know-what, know-how and know-who that can help drive us forward and develop momentum. Which is why I get so disappointed that so many are just so bad. The content is too dry, the delivery to flat and the take away too minimal. So what are the common symptoms of the curse of bad events and training that I see? And what should they be? Here are my big three curses that I see..
- The Curse of Clarity. Lack of clear outcomes and aims is the dread of any training or business event. You can spot it when a lot of ‘networking and coffee’ is an excuse for lack of creativity and exercises. Check the agendas, look for clear objectives and structures and relevant panels, guests or exercises.
- The Curse of Action. Or rather, a lack of actionable elements to take away. Without decent tools, resources and methods to use straight away, a training workshop can make people feel they have achieved nothing apart from a day away from the office. If an event or training session does NOT give you substantial learning and tool to use or react to then you are engaged in tourism – not education. Check that your next workshop or seminar is giving you something to do AFTER the event.
- The Curse of Time. In 2015, Faculty Focus (a site for University teaching) reported the Statistics Brain Institute research which revealed that the average human attention span for learning now stands at around ten minutes. Ten minutes. A reduction from previous norm of between 12-14 minutes. So why do so many courses, events and speakers drone on for hours? Why is there no variety and change of focus? Why no activities? Why no participation? Is the workshop really a 60-minute seminar stretched out with a lot of unnecessary fudge? The most stimulating and effective conversations, meetings, events and creative sessions involve short, sharp and highly engaging interactions, what I often call ‘Espresso Thinking’ – short bursts of stimulation for the brain. We need more espresso – and less fudge. Check that your next event and conference is tight, focused and engaging you in reactive and proactive action and not just passive listening.