How to survive a training course

By | July 30, 2009

Training courses can be great experiences…. or they can absolute nightmares. Here are some tips to help you maximize the experience from your next course.

Calls and Emails

Your on a training course and at lunch you turn your phone on, next thing you know your skipping lunch to deal with an ‘urgent’ issue. Instead ask a colleague if they will deal with any urgent issues whilst you are away and mention their contact details on your voicemail greeting and in an auto reply on your email.

Business Cards

Take some business cards. It’s not just competitors that go on training courses, but also some prospective clients. Get to know others on the course and exchange business cards. On a personal note you might be making some good contacts for your career, on a business note it could help your organisation finding employees or clients.

Colleagues

If going on a training course with colleagues don’t allow them to dent your training course. Pressure to have a good time away from the office or a distraction through the course can have a huge impact. It’s not school anymore, don’t allow yourself to be distracted and for a colleague to stop you getting you to know others on the course.

Travel

Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the location, it should make the experience less stressful. If this means starting early do so and have a print out of details. Phone numbers, addresses and names. Including a couple of local taxi company numbers if need be. Try not to let a boss or colleague expect you to leave at 4:30am that morning for a course starting at 10am somewhere miles away. You won’t learn much that morning believe me. Instead travel up and a cheap hotel the night before means you should be alert and prepared to maximize the experience.

Confirm the hotel booking beforehand, especially if organised by someone else. I had a couple of colleagues who literally had to sleep in a broom closet due to the wrong days being booked at a hotel.

Notes

Most training courses I’ve been on supply paper and pens. Take your own paper notebook and a pen, so you know you’ve got enough paper when required and a pen your used to. Make detailed notes as you will forget lots of important facts, then that evening write them up on a laptop or on a separate piece of paper. This will help you make more sense of the notes and then if you have any questions ask the trainer at the beginning of the next day. Don’t be scared to ask questions, regardless of how silly that might seem. Now is the best time as you have their attention and they are being paid to help you.

Food

Training courses have it all… chocolate bars, pizza, coffee, tea. All food which we all love, but sends your system crashing soon afterwards. Try and only have a couple of coffee’s or tea’s per day. Then fruit juice or water if possible and keep the rest of the food in moderation. Be one of the people that actually eats some fruit also, instead of the naughty cream desserts they offer.

Evenings

Try to switch off in the evenings. After the course go back to the hotel if possible to get changed into something more comfortable if you’ve been wearing a suit all day. I usually have a shower or bath and then go out to grab a bite to eat. Go for a stroll if suitable area and phone your partner. Then write up your notes. Don’t be tempted to spend the evening answering urgent emails and working via the hotel wifi. Don’t cloud your mind with work, spend time relaxing.

Try to find a place to eat which your can’t find elsewhere, basically not a franchise. So not McDonalds, starbucks etc. I always find this helps make the trip more enjoyable. Try to skip on more tea or coffee and keep alcohol to the minimum.

It’s tempting to go out for the whole evening, especially if with colleagues. Don’t feel your being mean, just be honest and say your tired after the days training, it will hugely matter on training courses more than a day.

Follow up

When you are next back at the office, send an email to your trainer and say thank you. It’s good manners and also might be a good contact for the future.

Gifts for your partner and children

Unfortunately most places are probably shut as your were training during the day and often I find myself at business parks etc on courses. It’s hard to buy a gift if not in a tourist area after 5:30pm. When I’m far from home I try to pick up a gift for my partner, even if most places were closed and the only shop open was at the airport. It’s resulted in varied gifts over the years, but a lovely thought. When we have children no doubt I will be buying more gifts. 🙂

Let us know your training course tips in the comments section.