The Ingredients For An Amazing Training Experience

I was nominated by my management to attend an off-site training the last couple of days.  The topic was Performance Based Presentations.  I thought, oh goody, another class on PowerPoint.  I could not have been more wrong.

The content of the course was absolutely amazing.  I got some great strategies for both preparing and delivering presentations in different scenarios.  In the next few weeks I have a few important presentations that this will no doubt make a difference in not only my success, but also help my self-confidence.

The moral of this story though isn’t about this great course.  A manager I had at one point had a theory about training.  There are three value propositions for training: getting away from the daily grind at the office to focus, the people you meet and collaborate with during the experience, and, of course, the content itself.

I have a lot going on in my world right now, especially at work.  Getting a break from my office and those fun meetings to build a skill, and the chance to meet some great people when added to the content of the course made this an encounter that will impact me going forward.  I am grateful for this opportunity.

Plymouth Visit

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Mayflower II, a replica of the original Mayflower.

Earlier this month, my wife and I were in Boston and decided to make a day trip to Cape Cod.  Along the way we stopped by Plymouth, Massachusetts, where we found the Plymouth Rock which is the spot where the Pilgrims landed in the New World.  This place is especially interesting to me because I am a Descendant of one of the Pilgrims.  My grandfather was very interested in genealogy and assembled some great documentation of that fact, along with the whole family tree.

Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock, partially obscured by a shadow

As for The Rock itself, it was not as large as I would have thought.  There was a monument surrounding the rock, which was erected in 1920 to commemorate the 300th anniversary.  We wondered for a moment what might be planned in a few years for the 400th anniversary.

The Mayflower II, pictured above, is a replica of the actual Mayflower ship.  We did not board the ship for a tour, as it didn’t really seem worth the money.

I really enjoyed the visit to Plymouth.  If you are interested in history, this small town is rich with it.

Stop Wasting My Time

I recently read a Harvard Business Review blog post from Dorie Clark.  This isn’t the first post I have read from her.  I think her advice is quite pragmatic and helpful.  I’m always looking for little tidbits of advice, and in this post she delivers a few nuggets.

This post is about stopping people from wasting your time.  In today’s fast paced business world, where the concept of time and personal space is becoming increasingly blurry, reducing time waste is crucial if one is to have any chance of balancing work and life.

She states four strategies: stating your preferred communication method, require an agenda for meetings, policing guest lists and forcing others to prepare.  These are great strategies in my mind.  Some of these things I seem to do fairly naturally, but as with everything there is room for improvement.

Stating your preferred communication method to people will help streamline the many threads of information.  For me, my preferred method is email because it allows me to prioritize my responses to messages.  I tend to ignore incoming phone calls to my office as more times than not it is a time waster coming through from the other end of the line.

Requiring meeting agendas is a good practice also.  I have also couched requests for agendas using the “so I can contribute fully” phrase, and it really helps surface the true purpose of the meeting.  Often I am double booked, and the agenda is often the tie-breaker to help me decide which meeting to attend.

Policing the attendees is really important also.  For example, if a number of my managers are already in the meeting, I may choose not to go, and sometimes even help by agreeing to send just one from my team.  After all, it’s not just about my time, but my team’s time is valuable also.  More often or not, less is more when it comes to most meetings, so limiting attendees is almost always helpful to get a successful outcome.

Forcing others to prepare is the area where I can improve a great deal.  It really comes down to communicating expectations, and if I can do that, a meeting will lead to some form of progress.  I’m not always good about that, so for me this is the nugget I will take from this post.

Thanks again, Ms. Clark.  I appreciate the reminders.