Copyright 2002 By Andrea Driessen, Principal, Amplify Professional Speaker Services
206-784-7315 ~ Andrea@AmplifyBureau.com
In our information-rich world, how do we even begin to discriminate between what is critical to our personal and professional success and what we can ignore—without sacrificing performance?
Certainly one of the most popular ways to inform and train colleagues is by bringing in speakers to educate, energize and motivate. Yet the power of speakers’ content, presence and magnetism can fade after a program ends.
What, then, can you do to give learning, and speakers’ teachings, the chance to percolate, to permeate your group, your corporate culture…your LIFE….so the ideas planted from the speaking platform feed our day-to-day challenges—days, weeks, even years later? Let’s examine six ways to cultivate true, long-lasting learning during events—and well after them—to enjoy a higher return on our educational investments. When negotiating with speakers, be sure to discuss how to add value to their program with any or all of the following methods. The best speakers live on the cutting edge of technology, and like you want to ensure their messages have staying power.
ONE. I Need my Space!
Enhancing Learning with a “Time Out”
Well-attended conferences can be as informational as they are overwhelming. Based on the need and desire to maximize the few hours or days available, programming staff rightly fills the time with back-to-back keynotes, workshops, and luncheons. Because take-away value is often a high priority, consider integrating even 15 minutes of down time (more if you can muster it) —of true solitude—following major programs.
Give attendees the chance to let newly learned concepts “gel” by scheduling time to process on their own. No networking [gasp!]. No rushing to dinner [wow!] Just time to absorb [thank you!]. Because time is becoming the rarest of commodities, you can quite easily add value—and much-needed clear-the-head time—to your conference, vastly increase the extent to which participants learn, and more importantly remember, key concepts.
TWO. Throw a “Learning Application Fest”
Immediately following this coveted down time, you can maximize learning even further by scheduling a half hour or so of structured inter-activity. With perhaps the speaker as a facilitator, give participants the chance to form groups to discuss their reactions to and applications for the new learning points.
Take it one step further by encouraging attendees to form teams that will be accountable to one another over time as each aims to set and reach learning goals. Suggest team members meet—by phone, email or in person—to discuss progress, challenges and additional ways to integrate new information in their ever-changing worlds.
THREE. Post a .PDF….
It’s Pretty Darn Fabulous.
One of the most practical software technologies today is Adobe® Acrobat®. It allows users to create files in Portable Document Format, or PDF. Portable, indeed. With Acrobat, you can convert nearly any electronic document (from a word-processed handout to a series of elaborate PowerPoint slides) into a universal format that can be viewed, downloaded and printed from a PC or Mac, from the Web or from email; from diskette or CD.
With PDFs, speakers can easily distribute advanced modules of their materials to attendees; attendees themselves can post, say on a company’s intranet site, information that illustrates how they are applying what they learned during a program.
Posting educational documents as PDFs can be a highly effective way for organizations to build loyalty and value as well as drive more traffic to their websites.
Before you know it, your website doubles as a highly effective, super-accessible, wonderfully centralized learning center! Adobe makes Acrobat Reader available at no charge, so those wishing to view PDF documents pay nothing. Those who create PDFs need to purchase Adobe Acrobat, which runs $249 for an individual copy. [See www.Adobe.com for details.]
FOUR. Increase Skills Exponentially with “Laugh-and-Learn Time”
Show colleagues how important education is to your organization by revamping your meeting agenda —ever so slightly and ever so powerfully. Why not start meetings with an activity that is both social and educational: Simply schedule the first 10 minutes of your regular meetings with Laugh-and-Learn Time. [continued…]
Allow participants to update one another on their triumphs and challenges as they refer to concepts covered in previous educational programming. Reflection and hearing others’ experiences can effectively open up possibilities and build upon previously learned concepts. Suggesting specific questions to ask one another (“Describe one way last month that you used benchmarking in your department.”) helps ensure more structured meetings rather than free-for-all, water-cooler gab sessions.
Economical, Exponential Results
What if you could gather an almost unlimited number of learners who have the means to easily share what they know and want to learn, for less than the cost of a movie and popcorn—and free of parking and commute hassles? You can—with teleseminars.
Particularly practical and affordable for companies and associations spread far and wide, and of course for those with currently curtailed travel policies, the teleseminar concept is surging in popularity. Great for stand-alone workshops or as supplements to in-person conventions, the process is simple.
The seminar leader establishes a central “party line” phone number into which participants dial at the appointed start time (either a toll-free or long-distance number). All attendees and the speaker(s) can hear, interact with and learn from one another via their telephone. Some of the more advanced teleseminars seamlessly combine verbal conferencing with additional audio and video content posted simultaneously on the web.
This multi-sensory combination allows participants to hear, see and interact with information via phone and email (by posting questions and reading answers, for example). With so many minds at work, this Smorgasbord for the Senses exponentially increases learning as it caters to each participant’s best personal learning style. Some of the best teleseminar websites include:
www.MentorU.com. This learning network for business and personal development offers its own workshops and the chance to run your on-line learning programs using their expertise and facilities.
www.SpeakingAboutWork.com offers a range of teleseminars and teleclasses that build communication, collaboration and cooperation for workteams and individuals.
www.TeleclassCanada.com allows you to search by seminar topic from a “soup-to-nuts” array of programs, and can be accessed internationally.
Best of all, teleseminars cost a fraction of an in-person conference. Most teleconferences start at $25 per person for one to two hours of talk time; many are free. If you’re planning a conference or training session, you could even ask speakers to cover the tasks and costs associated with establishing the phone lines in exchange for a revenue-share partnership.
Personal coaching is now all the rage at work and, increasingly, at home. One-on-one contact with another person—a professional coach or a friend adept at keeping you accountable—can ensure personal and professional success.
Consider integrating a coaching program following a conference to continue the learning after the “motivational glow” begins to dim. Many speakers are also skilled at one-on-one and group coaching, and can themselves provide follow-up coaching to work teams, management groups, and/or individuals to seamlessly provide more advanced levels of material, answer inevitable questions, spur productivity and instill greater motivation. Or, if your budget won’t allow for after-conference coaching, it’s easy and highly effective to encourage employees and work teams to coachone another. Dan Kennedy [www.ResultsThatMatter.com], a Seattle-based personal coach specializing in helping professionals, friends and families coach themselves, explains,
“While coaching is now a basic tool for managers in the 21st century, it is also becoming a core competency for everyone organization. As more responsibility continues to be handed off to work teams, employees and their managers are beginning to see the value in employees coaching each other on day-to-day issues.” Dan introduces work teams to coaching skills and approaches that can be used immediately, and that are essential for co-workers as they support each other's success.
What is your company or association doing to build upon concepts covered in your educational programming? We’d love to hear from you—so we can help others learn how to learn better through your great examples.
Andrea Driessen is the owner of Seattle-based Amplify Professional Speaker Services, which connects companies and associations with speakers and trainers worldwide, at the same price as contracting with them directly.