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How To Remember Information From Seminars

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Attending a training seminar to positively enhance your work performance is quite beneficial. But what happens when it comes time to implement the information in the office? If you have problems retaining information or trouble finding the time to integrate new techniques, AccelaWork’s founder has some great tips that can help overcome such roadblocks.

An article written by Robby Slaughter was featured in an issue of the Hamilton County Business Magazine. “How Not To Forget” details simple techniques that can be utilized before, during, and after a workshop that will assist in keeping an individual organized, focused, and actively productive.

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© Flickr user Stephen Dann

For your convenience, the entire article is below:

How Not To Forget

It has happened to all of us. We’ve attended a workshop or training seminar, taken copious notes and then later realized that we never implemented any of the great ideas from that program. How can we begin to actually use what we learn from a short course?

To tackle this problem, we must understand the forces at play. Conference presenters are under more pressure than ever to pack tons of content into less time, making retention far more difficult. Conference attendees are expected to catch up on all the work they missed as soon as they return to the office. The most valuable part of many sessions—interactive Q&A—is relegated to the last few minutes and often cut short. It seems like all the circumstances conspire against our desire to learn.

Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to increase the overall value of a seminar. It may be most powerful to start with area where it feels like you have no control: session content. Reach out to the organizers in advance to ask if presentation materials can be made available. Contact the person leading the session to ask for electronic copies of their slides and handouts. Consider making a personal audio recording of the session or even taking pictures of key visuals with your cellphone camera. This will give you more than just your handwritten notes for reference.

Furthermore, take a look at your own pre-event behavior patterns. If you find yourself scrambling to get work done before leaving, try to delegate or reschedule so that you can focus on preparing for the event. Change your email and voicemail to report that you are “Out Of Office” well before you actually leave to give yourself more space. Write down questions you hope to have answered in the session and bring them along. Come ready to learn and to keep the office out of your mind.

Arrive early and network. The other people in this room are about to engage in a shared experience. You can contact them later to exchange ideas and compare notes, so take this opportunity to collect business cards. Once you’ve met as many people as you can, sit near the front. The closer you are to the action, the more you are likely to retain.

Once the session begins, put your entire focus on being attentive. Turn off your phone, shut your laptop and don’t chat with your neighbor. Ensure that your notes match the natural rhythm of the presenter. If their talk is divided into three parts, separate and title each part on the page. If they show a few video clips, note these breaks. Later, these touch points will help jog your memory of the overall narrative.
After the program ends, your sole mission is to acquire the presenter’s contact information. Every trainer appreciates praise and most will happily communicate with you in the weeks and months ahead. Seek their business card so you can reach out to them in the future.

When you get back from a great session, the first thing you should do is reserve time on your calendar to process. Part of this block should be immediate while the material is fresh. The rest depends on how much time you think you need to begin exploring and implementing ideas in the session. Make appointments with yourself and your notes. Be prepared to spend at least as much time reviewing as you did in attendance. If you want the information to stick, you must be ready to relive the time you were in the audience.

Make that next offsite training more meaningful. Change the way you attend seminars by being more intentional, before, during and after the session. You will find that additional effort reaps tremendous returns. Instead of begrudging how much you’ve forgotten, you’ll be proud of how much you remember and the new plans you put into action.

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