5 ways to survive a training course

New year, new you – and maybe you will be going on a training course or attending a workshop?  This could either be for work or for your own interest and whichever it is you may find yourself feeling slightly apprehensive! 

A couple of months ago I overheard two people talking about a training course they were traveling to.  They were clearly both anxious about it and felt concerned about the course and what would be expected of them.  They were worried about being on time and already nervous about introducing themselves at the beginning of the course, which is something many people fear.

If you only attend training courses occasionally, then there are some easy steps you can take to build your confidence by planning ahead. 

Here are a 5 things you can do:

Dress correctly

The way you dress for training courses matters.  We all know that first impressions count, so it’s worth getting it right so that you feel confident from the start.  If the dress code isn’t stated, you can contact the organiser beforehand and find out what’s expected.  Smart/casual dress is popular, but you may feel awkward dressed like this if everyone else arrives in suits or dresses down. 

Plan your travel

Allow plenty of time for traveling.  It’s better to arrive early and go for a short walk or have a coffee than to arrive late.  Information about travel times is available from apps and websites and it’s worth checking if there are any events on which may impact these times.  Allow plenty of time for finding somewhere to park and if you’re traveling by public transport check and re-check your journey times.  Traveling with a friend is a great way to feel more confident.  And if you are really uncertain about where you are going, it’s worth doing a practice run!

Find out more about the course facilitator or presenter

Learning works best when the group shares knowledge and interacts well.  Your joining instructions may provide more information about the course content and the course facilitator.  Go online and see what else you can discover.  This gives you a chance to check on any technical terms or professional “jargon” and work out beforehand what it means.  You can learn something interesting about the subject and maybe even prepare a question, so if you find you are on the spot you have something prepared which you can say or ask.

Decide what you want from the course

We all have different reasons for attending courses.  Apart from learning new skills and gaining knowledge, there are opportunities for networking, friendship, professional development and a host of other benefits.  You may find it helpful to think about what you would like from the course or workshop yourself.  This could be specific information, clarification on something you’d like to understand better, an opportunity to study further or a desire to connect with others in order to gain support.  Thinking about your own aims will help to shape the way you interact in the sessions and will keep you engaged during the course.  And you may be asked at the beginning of the course what your own personal objectives are, so it’s another bit of preparation which will help you to feel in control and confident on the day!

Prepare your introduction

Sometimes known as the “creeping death” the start of most group sessions includes the opportunity to introduce yourself.  Some course facilitators are kind and pair people up then ask them to introduce each other.  But whichever way it goes, you’ll need to have a few things to say by way of introduction.  You may not have too much difficulty with your name, but a job title and role can be a little trickier, especially in a mixed group where your words and descriptions may not help others to understand what you do.  Think about this beforehand and decide how you want to be known and practise a clear way of describing what you do.  And you can always add in something interesting like an unusual hobby to spice things up!

And finally

Confidence can be a fragile thing.  When life is going well and we feel on top of our game, then we achieve the things we want and this builds our confidence for the next challenge.  It’s a good feeling.  However, if a few things start to slip, if we run out of time, if we don’t prepare adequately then we can get caught out and this make a dent in our confidence.  Stay positive!  It happens to us all.  The question is what to do about it? 

My clients tell me that setting aside time to reflect and prioritise what is really important in their lives is one of the most rewarding things that they can do.  Clarity comes from giving yourself space in your busy life.  We believe that “doing” is important.  And it is.  But "not doing" for short periods of time is even more valuable.  So maybe one of the small changes you can  make for 2017 is sometimes to do a little less.   Now there’s something to reflect on.

Izzy Ixer MCMI. Blue Pebble Coaching Ltd

Coaching and Mentoring in Woodbridge, Ipswich, Saxmundham in Suffolk