A training session is a great opportunity to expand your skills set, bond with colleagues and improve your understanding of your particular field. So here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of every session.

#1 – To take notes or not to take notes?
This dilemma has affected students for generations – do you write copious amounts of notes and potentially miss something important while you’re frantically scribbling, or do you risk not taking notes at all and forget something equally important later on? The trick is to take ‘smart notes’, and it’s a skill you can practice before you go into a training session.

Watch a news broadcast and make short, concise bullet-point notes of the salient points (and by short we mean literally a couple of words). Put the notes to one side for a couple of hours and then review them. Do they provide you with the key elements of the story, and do they make sense to you? How much of a mental ‘jog’ do they give you, and is your memory then able to ‘fill in the gaps’? This skill is one that you may not have used since your days at school or university, so brushing up on note-taking skills is a useful exercise before any training session.

#2 – Managing expectations
What do you expect to achieve during your training session, and what do you want to take away from the experience? By understanding exactly what you hope to gain from the session, you can then approach it with the right ‘mindset’.

#3- Asking questions
A training session shouldn’t be a ‘scattergun’ event where the audience is stunned into silence through the sheer amount of information that is fired in their direction! It should be a two-way process between the trainer and their students, which means don’t be afraid to ask questions if something isn’t clear or your don’t understand a point. Good trainers will allow plenty of time for Q&A sessions throughout a training course. Listen to other students’ questions too, as the responses may answer your own question before you’ve even asked it.

#4 -Participating
Are you a participant or a wallflower? Group exercises during training sessions often reveal distinct personality types, and while some march to the front confidently and without a second thought, others will find participating actively incredibly difficult. Remember that participation is part of the training, so to get the most out of your session you will need to take a pro-active role in the process. That doesn’t mean being the centre of attention, but it could be something as simple as asking a pertinent question (see above!).

#5- The difference between hearing and listening
Many students confuse the concepts of hearing and listening. Make sure that you do the latter, as simply ‘hearing’ what the trainer is saying doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve listened to what’s been said! Listening closely means that you have a greater chance of understanding all of the points that the trainer is trying to get across, whereas simply hearing a ‘background buzz’ mean’s you’ll take absolutely nothing away from the session.

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