How To Make the Most Out of a Seminar
Making the Most Out of Seminars
Each year there are more and more educational events and opportunities for you to attend as a trainer, coach and business owner. It’s getting tougher and tougher to figure out which ones will provide you with the biggest bang for your buck.
Not only that, but if you attend any you need to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth out of them and applying the most important ideas and concepts right away.
Let’s start by acknowledging that attending live events is one of the best, if not the best way to enhance your career. There’s something special about getting outside of your business or away from the day-to-day grind that allows you to absorb more information and think more clearly.
Plus, you get to network with the presenters and your peers which is always a good thing!
Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Events
Let’s get right into a few strategies that you can use to get the most out of any live events you attend this year.
Choose Your Events Wisely
You should set a number of events that you want to attend each year during your yearly planning cycles. This way you can budget in your expenses and start planning for the events you want to go to early.
Choosing events or the number you want to go to randomly leaves too much to chance! Most trainers and business owners need to get out to 3-4 live events a year. That’s one per quarter if you break it down evenly.
I suggest at least one training-related event if you’re still training clients and one business event if you are focused on growing your business or work for yourself. That leaves 1-2 other events that you can use to develop where you see fit.
For our coaching clients we recommend that you attend at least one Live Coaching Meeting or Mastermind each year. It’s critical to your growth and then we host our annual summit, the Elite Fitness & Performance Summit each year.
For rapid business growth you should follow the path of our highest level, top performing business owners and attend a coaching day at least 3 out of the 4 quarters of the year. It’s no accident that the best of the best are taking time to focus on their growth more frequently than others.
If you haven’t already, find one business and one training event to attend this year and get them on your schedule.
Preparing for the Event
Prior to attending the event you need to do a little homework to make sure you are prepared to get the most out of it.
This is something that I picked up from a member of my own Mastermind group, Dan Sullivan, who runs Strategic Coach. Prior to any event or Mastermind he attends, he does some prep work to determine what he expects to get out of the event.
So do your homework and spend 45-60 minutes preparing prior to the event. Know who the speakers are going to be, find out who else will be there that may be a good connection to make and then start listing out your outcomes. This helps you, even if you’re an introvert, to create opportunities to meet new people and get what you need out of the event.
To start, list out the purpose for your attendance. Is there something specific you want to learn or someone you want to meet? Do you need to make a certain number of contacts prior to the event?
Knowing your outcome will help you create a short list of objectives that you need to accomplish. After the event you’ll be able to look back and see if it was a success or not.
Our coaching members have an Issue/Opportunity Prep document that can be used to identify the #1 issue or opportunity they want to address at the event and create a plan to do it—including their desired outcome.
Preparing ahead of time will determine whether you know exactly how to make this event provide you with a return on your investment or take a gamble that it will produce.
Layout Your Schedule
If you’re attending a seminar or workshop instead of a Mastermind meeting, plan out the sessions you want to attend prior to showing up. This can go in your planning stage if you wish.
This saves you time and energy during the event. When you know what you want to learn, you can plan things out and make sure you’re focusing on your highest priorities.
When you’re doing this, make sure to plan to be at the socials and make time for post event dinners, etc. These are where most connections are made and where some of my most valuable learning has occurred.
Plan Your Travel To Enhance Learning
Don’t schedule late night flights, arrive last minute or be the first one out the door! If you’re going to invest time and money to go to an event, prepare accordingly.
Plan your flights and travel so that you arrive in plenty of time to get adjusted to any time zone changes and arrive with a bit of time to get your bearings the day before.
Most days when I travel it’s a lost day anyhow so it’s easier for me to leave early the morning before and arrive at the location early the day prior to the event. I can work or meet up with people once I arrive and it allows me time to get a feel for the event location so I’m not scrambling to find anything the next morning.
Plus, you can get some extra rest and be ready for the event. Arriving at 2am before the event starts and getting 3 hours of sleep in a hotel isn’t going to help you get your money back from the event.
After the event I like to stay a day—or at least the following morning—and give myself time to decompress a bit and jot down my action items and to-dos from the event. It’s like a brain dump.
There are some very successful people that I know who stay for 3-4 days after an event to spend time working on their ideas and not jumping back into the day-to-day grind right away.
If you can’t do that—and I understand because I like to be home with my family right after I travel as quickly as possible—make sure to take 60 minutes to jot down your big “ah-ha moments” and takeaways before heading out. If you’re flying, use the plane time to brain dump and get it all out on paper.
Don’t Try To Learn It All
There’s power in focus and prioritization. Go in limiting yourself to 3-5 big ideas that you can start implementing or takeaway from the event immediately.
If you try to do everything you learned it will be a disaster! So create a sheet or document before you go that has a blank list of 1-5 things on it and fill it in as you go through the seminar.
My Mastermind group provides us with some really cool sheets, as we do for our coaching clients in our Mastermind days, that help you organize your thoughts and create your takeaway items. You can do the same for seminars.
These priorities should align with the outcomes you listed prior to the event and maybe include 1-2 other things that really stood out. For example, at the last event I attended I had 3 items to accomplish:
- Connect with 2 people to start a joint venture or build a relationship within the group.
- Find 1 big idea to improve our sales funnels.
- Learn how I can help others in the group.
I accomplished each of those but also had 2 more takeaways…
- Create 10-20 minutes in each day to focus on my own development including reading, meditation and gratitude.
- Use the framework for organizing presentations learned from Joel.
While I had a list of maybe 50 ideas and items from the event, I focused on just those 5 for now and I can circle back to my notes on the others as needed.
Avoid These Mistakes
I’ve had to learn some of my lessons the hard way and this is by no means a judgement. However, I can tell you that avoiding these mistakes will serve you well at events :).
Don’t get obnoxiously drunk at the social or after the social at events!
Trainers and business owners love to cut loose when they go to events and rightfully so. While you can have fun and enjoy yourself, don’t go overboard.
I’ve done this plenty of times and I’ve seen lots of others do it. Remember that while you see these people just a few times a year, the impressions you leave on them are strong. You don’t want to be known as “that person” at events. And you know what I’m talking about!
Know your limits, have fun, cut loose but keep it under control. It will also help you get to that first session the next day and not be hungover when you go to test out that great new workout :).
Don’t avoid the bar!
Seems contradictory right? It’s not. You still need to remember to stay in control and if you can’t, just have a soda and lime or a diet coke.
Your best connections and some of the best conversations/lessons you’ll learn at events come from the bar or post event dinners. Find a circle of people you can connect with or introduce yourself to a presenter if you see them sitting there. Start a discussion or ask if you can tag along for dinner.
Don’t be intimidated by it! We’ve all been the new person in a group or at an event and understand. You won’t regret this even if you’re an introvert. Trust me!
Don’t “big league” the newbies.
You’ve been there, and if not you’re one of the lucky few. If you’re an experienced vet of the seminar circuit or an established member of the group make sure you’re inviting to the newbies.
It’s cool to hang out in your close circles and connect with old friends but also take some time to bring in someone that could benefit from being around you. Show them the ropes and welcome them to tag along with you. It’s comforting to them and you’ll benefit from it too.
I despise events where it’s like the “good ol’ boys” club and it’s really intimidating for a new person to make their way into that circle. If you keep pushing your own personal development you’ll be in that same position at some point and would want someone to return the favor.
Don’t be too cool for school
You’ve invested time, money and energy to attend an event so don’t be on your phone, computer or out in the halls holding court the entire time. Take your notebook out, write with a pen and be considerate of the presenters.
You may just be surprised at how much you learn and pick up when you actually pay attention and aren’t tweeting or posting all day long. Use the breaks and short intermissions to catch up on all that, but when you’re in a session stay focused on learning.
Remember that others are watching you so if you’re a well known person at an event, make sure to sit in on other presentations and know that you’re setting the bar for everyone else.
Wrapping it Up
Here’s your checklist:
- Choose your events wisely, at least one training and one business event each year.
- Prepare for the event by knowing what outcomes you want.
- Layout your schedule.
- Plan your travel to accommodate learning.
- Create your top 5 takeaways list.
- Don’t be “that guy/gal” 🙂 .