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To go or not to go?


If you were invited to a training event, what would it have to include for you to consider attending? Any particular subject areas that you'd be interested in finding out more about?

Tracey Thake

7 Responses

  1. Want to, Need to, Able to
    No golden rules here – one man’s meat is another man’s poison and all that.

    However there are some general principles to keep in mind. Key elements for all training are:

    1) Motivation – do I want to attend, do I want to learn, do I find the topic interesting and inspiring?

    2) Ability – am I able to learn this, do I feel it will be presented at the right level to challenge me, without losing me in complexity?

    3) Relevance – is this information relevant to me or my job, or my life (either right now or in the immediate future)?

    For me, I want an invitation to be written by someone who themselves is enthusiastic.

    However the tutor presents the topic (enthusiastic, tired, cynical) tends to be how the audience leaves.

  2. Calibre counts
    Hi Tracey

    A few years back I did some nation-wide research involving questionnaires, phone interviews and focus groups on the training & development needs of volunteers across Scotland, for VDS (Volunteeer Development Scotland).

    Volunteers aren’t paid but still need to attend training and commit to learning if their engaging organisation is to achieve any kind of quality or consistency. Incidentally, those organisations with purposeful, structured, and tailored training & development provision were proved to be keeping their volunteers for over twice as long!

    So, what helps and hinders them from getting along to a training session? The research found that distance, time, and other competing priorities were the top problems – no surprise there then. Vagueness on what exactly was going to be worked on and at what level were also frustrations.

    However, these hindrances simply melted away when participants knew quite clearly not just about the topic, level and outcomes but also about the CALIBRE OF THE PRESENTER.

    Imagine you were a volunteer working on the phone at Childline: wouldn’t you want to get to a workshop run by a well-recognised and regarded expert in the field of child protection or counselling?

    Sure, the session itself needs to be learner-centred, well-paced, etc but the person at the centre needs to be very obviously a good choice for the job.

    Plus, all that Emma said!

    Hope this helps –

    Nick McBain

  3. Remember the practicalities
    Hi, Tracey

    Nick and Emma have both made good points. I’d just like to add a few additional ones.

    As a paid staff member in a voluntary organisation, my process goes something like this:

    1. Am I excited by the description? If yes, it might be because the topic is really something I need to know (possibly even a requirement); because I am personally keen on the topic; because I’ve attended training by that person or organisation before, and found it valuable or inspiring; or because it presents particularly good networking opportunities.

    2. Cost and time: If it’s for work, I have to justify my attendance to my line manager and finance department, so I need to be able to relate it to the organisational strategy. If it’s something I’m attending for myself, is it worth my valuable hard-earned cash and spare time?

    3. Where is it being held? This includes considerations such as: how far do I have to travel; how expensive or inconvenient will the travel be; am I likely to have to leave very early or late; how expensive/inconvenient will accommodation be (I have to be VERY motivated to attend training in London on these counts!); what is the venue like (I’ve attended training where the accommodation, food and inconvenience have been so bad that I just won’t go back there unless it’s absolutely imperative). And, lastly, I won’t go anywhere likely to be smoky (though that’s rare these days, fortunately).

    Feedback from courses that I’ve been involved in running suggests that I am not alone, and that, unless training is essential, people do tend to weigh up a range of both work/subject based and personal criteria when deciding whether or not to attend a training course.

  4. High-light Benefits
    Hi Tracey

    I would concur with the other respondents, (especially the point about the calibre or credibility of the presenter). In addition, I have found that how you name a course can have a real positive effect on attendance.

    For example, I ran a course called ‘The value of complaints’ that attracted good levels of interest in some sectors but low levels of interest in others.

    However, rather than change the course content, I renamed the course to high-light the benefits of attending. So the new title was ‘How to improve your Service Delivery’ and the interest drastically increased.

    Hope that helps


  5. Now I’ve got your attention…
    Thank you to everyone who sent in suggestions on how to encourage people to attend a training event – hopefully I could now fill a room… but what would you want to learn more about when you got there? Any burning training needs out there?

  6. Niche Marketing?
    Hi Tracey,

    For me, any training event has to offer something new…and that’s not easy! I don’t mean to sound big headed, but there are a lot of events aimed at ‘professional’ trainers that really do little but cover the basics.

    In my humble opinion (and experience) the fields of presentation, design and evaluation tend to be over done. What would inspire me to attend an event? Well certainly something that involves the opportunity to meet other trainers and share best practice. If you have come across NLP, then a master class in modelling other trainers would be a pretty fascinating thing to do!

    If that doesn’t attract you, then how about some of the lesser used tools of training? I’m thinking about things like; Story telling; Metaphors; Drama etc.

    And if none of that works, then how about a master class in ‘exercise design’, I’m thinking of those mini group (or syndicate) exercises that you can design on the hoof (as opposed to the myriad of semi useless ones available in the many books on the said subject).

    Again, don’t get me wrong, many of those books etc are great…but they only meet the needs of a few niche training events (and the best ones don’t claim to do anything else). How much more useful would it be to be able to create similar great participative exercises in minutes rather than poor through loads of pre-existing ones?

    Tracey, my own petty prejudices aside, I hope some of the above may be of use to you! I would be very happy to provide any further thoughts/guidance or even help out with your event if you would be kind enough to invite me!



  7. More thoughts
    I have to agree with Cynthia’s comments in particular – if I’ve been to a venue that was awful (badly managed, poor hotels, poor administration, expectations not met, I will NEVER return to that event or venue again however interested I might be in options offered. However, I will ALWAYS return to an excellent trainer (but what happens if trainer is in the bad venue….?!).


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