Back to School!
We've all been there — the class, seminar or webinar that, within the first few minutes, is clearly going to be a waste of time. It's either too basic (for us), not really the topic as advertised, too advanced or just (frankly) too boring.
Even if your company is paying for the training, you invested an hour (or four, or even eight) that you will never get back. And with training dollars tight, you may be sacrificing a more beneficial training to attend one that doesn't meet your expectations.
I am a big believer in training. I've invested in training personally and taken advantage of the times when my employer "sprung for it." But I've also passed some long hours sitting through training that missed the mark (for me). Following are a few lessons I've learned about training to help you plan your "course" for the next year.
Choose a format that works for you
Webinars are great — unless you're easily distracted. Let's face it; you won't get maximum value out of the webinar if your screen is shared by the webinar and Facebook. And solitaire isn't going to enhance the absorption of material for the most part.
Long, long ago — like back in the 1980s — we had one choice for training: on-site. We traveled to a venue, stayed in a hotel (sometimes), were given lunch and two coffee breaks ("fluid adjustment breaks," as one speaker called them), and were pretty much out of touch with the office unless we wanted to stand in line to use a pay phone.
While face-to-face training may seem so last century, there is still a value to getting out of the office, especially if you are willing to leave your comfort zone and network. Ask questions, probe deeper and request more information, and your time away may be beneficial. But if you're just going to sit quietly and take notes, the extra cost of being out of the office may not be a good investment.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.