I recently went to a live seminar in California. The event was very powerful and, while I love taking part in webinars, webcasts, and live streams from the comfort of my home, there’s nothing like meeting your virtual connections at a live event.
I had such a great experience at this event that I wanted to share my best tips to maximize your value from the next live event you attend.
1. Choose the right event. There are hundreds if not thousands of training events held each year in the United States alone. And of course they all sound fascinating. I love learning and if I was independently wealthy I’d go to all sorts of workshops. But since time is limited in a way that money isn’t (you can’t get more time but you can always find a way to get more money), you’ve got to choose the best event for you and your business right now. So start by asking yourself how fast will I be able to use the information they’ll be sharing.
2. Manage your schedule well before, during, and after the event. I know lots of Internet gurus don’t advertise too far in advance so you may need to shuffle your schedule to be able to attend a really great event. But as you manage your time, do your best to minimize what’s on your calendar the day before you head out of town and the day after you come back. You need time to prepare and pack, as well as time to reflect on and apply the information shared when you get back. And set the expectations of people back home – whether your friends and family, your staff, and clients. Let them know how easy or hard it will be to reach you and who they can contact instead, along with how they can contact you in an emergency.
3. Stay at the event hotel whenever possible. Boy this makes a big difference in your overall enjoyment of the event. If you’ve ever been to an event with hundreds or even thousands in a hotel you know how nice it is to be able to sneak up to your hotel room on a break. And if you’re attending a multi-day event with early activities and late activities, staying at the event hotel makes it a lot easier to get to the next day’s seminars with less stress and hassle.
4. Get clear on what you want from the event and set that intention. You hear a lot of great information at a live event, especially a multi-day one. It can be overwhelming if you’re not centered and focused on what you most want to get from attending the event. Your intention could range from learning more about a specific topic to be covered to meeting a specific type of person, to anything else that will make you feel the event was valuable.
5. Take good notes. I like to have one notebook dedicated to the event so I can put It in a file where I won’t lose it. You might want to take notes into an online tool like Evernote or One Note. You might want to use my notebook idea. Not every session or every event provides handouts to guide your note taking so you want to make sure you feel good about how you’ll take notes so you can actually refer to them later.
Summarize key takeaways and make note of how’ll you’ll apply the information. I think it’s a good idea to talk through your ideas with a friend or colleague, whether they know what was covered in the event or not. It’s in the explanation that things get processed in our minds and connected in our hearts. Start putting integration / application time into your calendar and don’t expect instantaneous results or a miraculous improvement.
6. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Look, as much as I love learning, I’m an introvert. Just being around a lot of people can be emotionally draining for me. But pushing beyond our comfort zone and being uncomfortable is an important part of the learning process. Here are a few simple ways you can stretch yourself:
7. Introduce yourself to others. I know that sounds ridiculous but I really have to push myself to do this. I’m a “don’t speak unless spoken to” kind of person so it really is a push to introduce myself to other people.
8. Switch seats and tables if it’s a multi-day event. I’m sure there’s some sort of psychological study that could be done on the issue of how committed to and protective of “my seat” people get. As uncomfortable as it is, push yourself to do this if possible and if it feels right in the group. I’ve actually watched grownups – managers — get into an argument at a seminar I was leading at their company when one of them sat in what the other perceived was his seat. It wasn’t pretty. So do it if you feel safe in the group.
If you can’t switch seats, at least sit with people you don’t know so you can expand your network.
9. Don’t eat alone. This can be hard, especially if you’re an introvert like me and you need some down time. But try. Especially if it’s only a one day event. Find a way to eat at least one meal with other attendees. We build relationships with others over food. It really is an important networking and relationship building opportunity. And hey, a whole book was written on this premise.
10. Participate in activities. I’ve been to conferences that have offered tours of the surrounding area, held concerts, scheduled dinners, had parties, and run various networking events. One conference I attended had an ice cream social! If you feel up to it, attend at least one. Part of the benefit of attending an event like this is building your network but you have to actually….you know…NETWORK.
11. Apply for a hot seat if possible. Hot seats are activities where you get a few minutes on stage with the guru running the event. You typically have to fill out an application and yours is chosen if the problem you want to solve is something that others in attendance are likely wrestling with. I applied for and participated in my first hot seat at this recent event. I never felt adequate enough before. When you think about it, the leader running your event likely gets hundreds if not thousands of dollars for their time; so for you to get even a few minutes of focused attention is a great benefit. Take advantage of it.
12. Practice good self care. Rarely are these events monuments to healthy eating and plentiful rest. The ones I go to are typically from about 8am to as late as 6pm. Then there are activities or at least dinner to go to with your fellow participants. Do your best to stay on your typical eating schedule and adhering to your standard diet. Drink lots of water and get adequate rest. If possible, at least get some walking in if you can’t get in your standard workout activity.
13. Stay connected to and active in the group. A Facebook group is sort of minimum of post event support or connectivity for attendees. Some don’t seem to survive but some groups really take off and they become a strong support for post-event. The group can give feedback on application of strategies, share resources, and even provide coaching. A good percentage of my clients come from Facebook groups I participate in and most of those groups are off-shoots of a course I took, several of them were live, in-person events.
14. Take fast, imperfect action. This is one of those things we cognitively KNOW to do but often can struggle with when our perfectionism, fears, and self-doubt can take over. Confidence is unfortunately one of those things that comes about after action is taken. Courage is what’s needed in order to take action. To make this easier, pick one small thing you can do right away that will take a small amount of courage but will produce big confidence. The faster you do it, the more powerful and confident you’ll feel.
I know I learn best by taking part in a live training or information session. Recordings are great but they don’t provide the same depth of experience. If that’s true for you, then be sure to build some revenue into your budget to allow for at least one live event each year to build your skills and your network. Just be sure to choose the right event for you and your business.