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Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

Right Trax Training Ltd

Learning & Development Consultant

Read more from Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

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Learning & Skills Exhibition 2013: a review of the good, the bad and the not so pretty



The good, the bad and the not so pretty

By Chris at Right Trax Training

I write this fresh from having just attended this year’s Learning and Skills event, which is now in its fourth year and together with the Learning Technologies exhibition that ran alongside it, gave access to over 230 exhibitors and more than 120 seminars which were free to attend. 

It was my first time attending this particular exhibition; I’ve wanted to for years although when I was a full-timer in the corporate world it always seemed hard to justify the benefits of going against the time and expense involved…well I’m glad to say that if you are in any doubt as to whether it’s worth going, the short answer is: IT IS!

It wasn’t all peachy though.  Not quite the good, the bad and the ugly (that would be just downright mean), it was more the good, the bad and the not so pretty!

By far the best bit for me was the free seminars .  They were a brilliant way to give people something extra all wrapped up in a short and snappy package whilst giving me the perfect chance to meet and chat to like-minded people in the audience.  The best ones were definitely those which didn’t have an explicit sales message or weren’t simply a 30 minute thinly veiled advertisement for the business in question.  My personal view is that the companies who told a great story, connected at a deeper level with their audience and gave you some food for thought to take away shone brightly over and above the others.  By far my favourite seminar that ticked all those boxes was given by Gavin Oates from Tree of Knowledge, who posed the question:  ‘How do you fit a giraffe in the fridge?’  It was personal, funny and challenged my way of thinking – and all that when I had to stand for the 30 minutes too…no mean feat!

It was great to get an insight into where learning is going this year and beyond.  There really is some amazing technology out there and I came away feeling that it will very much continue to support and manage the learning experience rather than replace the personal elements of formal and informal development.

Also ranking on my ‘best of’ list was having the opportunity to meet some new people and catch-up with some old friends and colleagues – it really was so worthwhile taking the time to connect or reconnect and is so easy to forget when we get caught up in the day to day grind of life. 

And so onto the bad and not so pretty.  For me there are two things that you just have to grin and bear when you come to this kind of event. 

Although the seminars were the best bit, I do have a bug bear…I wouldn’t be so crude as to mention companies by name because I admire all of the people that stood up there – it’s something I can’t wait to do myself at an event like this and so I respect them hugely just for that alone…but yes, there is a ‘but’ coming up!  BUT why do some training businesses still think that an audience (especially an audience of learning & development bods), want to be subjected to a one way hard sell that is dry, overloaded with PowerPoint and lacks any interactivity.  I really dislike this and the people in the audience that I talked to all said the same thing: we don’t want to be sold to; we want to learn something new (hey that rhymes!).  Quick mention though to those who used Prezi: the pros and cons of visual aids is another blog topic in itself although it was nice to see something different in the Prezi visuals.

My second bug bear was the tactics employed by some of the stallholders to trap you in their sales snare.  Call me old fashioned, but I like a friendly “hello”, “how are you” or even a corny joke to start the conversation rather than something clunky or false.  My favourite gaffe was from one lady who asked me “are you just using us as a thoroughfare?” when I stepped across her stall to get past a bottleneck in the crowd…yep that’s not going to make me want to stop and talk to you!  I said “yes” by the way.

I went along to meet some new people, stay updated with what’s going on in my world of learning & development and to see what other companies are doing and I achieved all those things and more.  All in all a successful first Learning & Skills exhibition and I’m already looking forward to going again next year.  I would urge you to make time for your own industry-specific events that help you to expand your knowledge and network outside of its current state…the benefits are so numerous compared to the time that it takes.

What do you do to stay current and grow your network?  Tell us in the comments section below.

Right Trax Training are a training, development and consultancy business who are passionate about helping other businesses be successful through their people and teams.  They can help your managers and teams to be better too.  Get in touch via and find out how.

7 Responses

  1. I agree!


    I wrote up a summary myself and have made very similar points. 

    The seminars that were full of info are so worth going to but I hate the sales promotion approach.  I walked out of two seminars which had fantastic titles and summaries but then turned into blatant promotion within 2 minutes.    

    Maybe see you at the next one. 


  2. Help!

    I used to be very active in attendinge vents like this but due to the sales pressure and being zapped but barcode scanners and emailed for the next few months I stopped going.

    Would really like some ideas of how people saty sharp and up to date. (Particularly Oil and Gas, Engineering, Nuclear, Shipbuilding trainers)

  3. You can say that again!



    Blake – I have to admit, I did that for one which I was really disappointed with…maybe we were in the same one!  Is your summary online anywhere, I'd love to read it?


    Steve – Yes, I can imagine the allure quickly wears off although having said that I haven't been too bombarded so far *touches wood*…don't know of any events in those sectors, hoping others reading this will be able to help you.



  4. Great review Blake!

    Hi Blake,


    Great review – I've forwarded it onto my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn followers for them to read an alternative account.  I really like how you've given an overview on specific seminars…I look forward to seeing yours next year perhaps!




    PS – your link gave me the 'error 404' message so I had to go to the website and then on to the blog section.

  5. Great!This article is very

    Great!This article is very creative. There are a lot of new ideas and amazing discussion here. It gives me inspiration. Thanks for providing this to us and more posting!!


Author Profile Picture
Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

Learning & Development Consultant

Read more from Chris Mooney (Chartered MCIPD)

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