I’m sharing what I’ve learned about getting the most out of a seminar or class.

There is an unspeakable pleasure
attending the life of a voluntary student.

~ Oliver Goldsmith

Table of Contents

A Postcard from Barbara
Get Out of the Year Smarter
Ready to Inspire Others with Your Creativity
Is It Time to Ditch the Excuses

A Postcard from Barbara

I landed in 2017 determined that it would be nothing like the year that came before it. As you may recall, I spent much of last year battling an evil virus that stole my energy. For the first time in twenty-five years, I hardly saw the inside of an airport. 

Happily, the lethargy is behind me and I’m planting seeds like crazy for new projects and adventures. One of those projects is a special event that is timely and loaded with tools for thriving in the uncertain times in which we find ourselves.

Of course, I can’t wait to get back to my natural habitat—rooms filled with enthusiastic learners. Details will be coming before too long. 

In the meantime, I’m sharing what I’ve learned about getting the most out of a seminar or class. Since most of us don’t have these experiences daily, these tips are a tiny refresher course that can help you get the most out of the learning events you choose to attend. 

If you’re an artist or craft person who’d like to move to the head of the classroom and teach, check out Terri Belford’s upcoming online course, which looks terrific. You can find out more a bit further down this page.  

Whatever your plans for this year are, be sure to include continual learning adventures. 

As Richard Branson reminds us, “Being an entrepreneur means having an insatiable thirst for learning, evolving and creating. There is simply no one end goal.”

Get Out of the Year Smarter

One of the best kept secrets about self-employment is that it gives you an excuse to be a life-long learner. Your learning may even be a legitimate tax deduction, but that’s not the reason to invest. There’s always something new to investigate, new skills to master, new techniques for growing your enterprise.

While regularly showing up for seminars and workshops can be a wise investment of both time and money, not every adult learner knows how to maximize the experience. 

As I was busily rearranging the New York hotel ballroom where my seminar was to be held, a man arrived, marched to the front seat, sat down, folded his arms over his chest and said in a demanding voice, “This better be good.” 

I was quite certain that he was about to be disappointed.

During the break, another man rushed up to me, eyes glowing, and said, “I can’t believe what’s happening. I wasn’t even supposed to be here tonight. I came to take notes for a friend who was called out of town. I’ve already thought of three businesses I can start!”

Every seminar I teach has a variation of this theme. While the information is the same, some people leave with nothing and others with more than they expected.

What’s the difference? How can you be one of the ones who get more out of the events you attend?

The moment I walked out of that seminar in New York, I began making notes about classroom behavior that guarantees the best possible experience. Here’s what my best students have taught me.

° Be responsible for what happens in the classroom. Do you realize, for instance, that you can help the leader do a better job? By nodding, smiling, responding, you can encourage—or discourage—the person leading the seminar.

Nonverbal communication is loud in a classroom and good teachers pay attention to the signals their students send. If you frown or appear indifferent, you may have a negative impact on the person leading the course.

By supporting the teacher, you’ll get a better class. No kidding.

° Come ready to learn. Of course, you need to have note-taking equipment in good working order with you, but that’s only part of being prepared.

Leave your problems and worries outside the room and let your sense of adventure take over.

For a few hours, suspend your resistance and be open to the ideas and information that you are receiving.

Treat your learning experiences like a mini-vacation and be willing to encounter the unexpected.

° Arrive early and pick the best seat in the house. I’m always fascinated to see how a room fills up. Some people look for an open spot in the back of the room. Serious students realize that where they place themselves can make for a better experience.

Select the best vantage point you can get. Make sure you can see and hear what’s going on.

The farther to the front that you place yourself, the fewer the distractions.

Yes, this may not apply to the cranky guy in New York.

° Take two sets of notes. Make one set factual (important points given in the lecture) and another of ideas that you get during the course of the lecture. 

In other words, begin applying ideas to yourself immediately.

° Take advantage of the opportunity to connect. It surprise me that so many adults don’t even acknowledge the people sitting next to them in a seminar. How can you fail to be curious about others who are drawn to the same learning experience.

If you’re attending a longer event with regular breaks, you may discover the biggest rewards come from conversations that you instigate in the hallway. Don’t miss out.

 ° Be a regular student. Of course, expanding your knowledge can be fun and interesting, but there are larger benefits. Seminars and classes can strengthen your self-confidence, motivate you, awaken ideas and thoughts that had been dormant.

You can even transform your life. Although Cinderella changed hers thanks to a fairy god-mother, modern versions of the story rely on education to perform such miracles.

Take your self-education seriously. And while not all seminars will be equally powerful, you’ll still receive the benefits that come from keeping your curiosity alive.

Ready to Inspire Others With Your Creativity?

One of the interesting changes brought about by the Information Age has been the shift from credential-based expertise to experience-based expertise. What this means is that new opportunities to share (and add to your portfolio of profit centers) makes teaching on your own schedule an option.

Terri Belford has gathered an impressive group to help you launch your own Inspired Teaching program. As she writes, “Have you envied your artist friends who post photos of creative workshops they’re teaching in Santa Fe or Hawaii or Mexico and wondered how they got so lucky? Or envied those artists who are holding virtual classes from their own studios? If you’ve thought, ‘I’d love to do that but I wouldn’t know where to begin’ or ‘I haven’t got the credentials to teach art,’ this 30-day program will give you the tools you need to get started.

Click on the link to get the scoop. Inspired Teaching

Is It Time To Ditch the Excuses?

What’s it going to be? A life you love, or a list of excuses why you don’t have it? I had a lively chat with Maureen Anderson on her Doing What Works program about excuses, those all too familiar gremlins that convince us to stay stuck.

If you’d like to confront those pesky gremlins, click on this link: Doing What Works

Buon Viaggio,  

Barbara Winter

P.S. On occasion, I may receive a commission or compensation when you participate or purchase a product or service I recommend. That being said, I strive to always offer useful content and resources in each issue of Joyfully Jobless News. 


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