You have meetings back to back, and tons of work to do, including prep for your presentation tomorrow, so what are you doing sitting in this seminar? Easy answer: you have to be here. Your employer mandated it, or the presenter is your subordinate or colleague or supervisor, or you wanted to network beforehand but not necessarily stay, or you need to be seen in attendance or on the attendance list, or you're the CEO and you required everyone to attend, or on and on.
The value you derive from your attendance will be next to nothing (and possibly negative) if you sit their boiling in your own resentment at having to be there. Here are nine tips to help curb your resentment and get value from the seminar.
- Make notes, physical or mental
- If you outrank everyone in the room, making notes might not be practical, because people interpret your behavior in unexpected ways. But otherwise, notes can be helpful in consolidating your learning. If you take notes, do so continuously — write more than you think you need. You never know how things will fit together in post-seminar contemplation.
- Sit near people you want to get to know better
- If you're attending non-virtually, sit beside anyone in the room whom you'd like to get to know better. If you can choose from several, remember that the obvious choice might not be best. When it comes to unanticipated benefits, randomness can be your friend.
- Know how to deal with information you already know
- When the presenter says something you already know, there's elevated risk of resentment about wasting your time. The risk is real, but the feelings might not be justified. For example, even though you understand well the point just made, in how many ways could you have made the same point? Is the presenter's way new to you? If not, does it suggest a new and more engaging way to make the same point? Investigate how the presenter's approach might trigger new ways for you to think about that point or new ways to express it.
- Know how to deal with what you disagree with
- When the presenter says something with which you disagree, objecting aloud might be acceptable. If it is, engaging with the presenter in a confrontational manner is one choice, but there are others. Without stating your objection, you can ask the presenter how the point applies in a particular case that you constructed to illustrate your objection. You never know — maybe the presenter has an acceptable response.
- If objecting Any short seminar — an hour
or less — has at least three
items of value to
anyone attendingaloud isn't acceptable, or isn't practical, ask yourself similar questions, silently of course, and later on if necessary. You never know — maybe you have acceptable responses.
- Look for three take-aways
- Any short seminar — an hour or less — has at least three items of value to anyone attending. What are the top three ideas worth remembering from this seminar? Even if the presenter's style is abominable, the presenter is probably a thoughtful professional who somehow earned the opportunity to present. Include in this list anything that needs re-writing to make its value more evident, and anything you already learned and are glad you did.
- Look for two leave behinds
- Any short seminar also has some leave-behinds — things not worth remembering, or not likely to be useful to you anytime before they become obsolete or overtaken by technological change. The nice thing about leave-behinds is that you don't have to remember them. Just make certain that they don't somehow find their way onto your take-away list.
- Avoid mentally criticizing the presenter
- Even if you abhor the presenter's speaking style, even if you don't like the presenter's PowerPoint technique, mentally criticizing the presenter on either count is an expensive habit. It prevents you from focusing on the presenter's message, which is presumably the most important reason for anyone to attend the presentation. Moreover, mental criticism sets your mind looking for things you find mistaken or worthless, and then, because of the halo effect, you might become predisposed to reject whatever the presenter has to say that might be valuable.
- Pay special attention to…
- Sometimes the most important ideas from a presentation make themselves known not by the presenter emphasizing them, but by the reactions of attendees. Pay special attention to anything that was unclear to you. Was the presenter's language poorly chosen? How would you have made that same point? Were you confused by some other factor?
- Did you react strongly to anything the presenter, or anyone else, said? If you felt anger, what was that about?
- Did another attendee ask a question that revealed difficulties of some kind? Is the concept confusing or subtle? Or was the presenter unclear? Did the presenter get confused about something?
- Finally, did disagreements erupt among the attendees, or between the presenter and other attendees?
- All of these incidents are potential indicators of difficulty in the subject matter. Try to understand what might be contributing to these difficulties. If you can sort that out, you might be able to make a contribution. If you can't, that could suggest how you might find answers later.
Finally, afterwards, as soon as possible, rewrite your notes, or write them for the first time if you didn't take notes. Because the rewrite almost always stimulates recall and learning, do it soon, even if you don't feel that you have time to finish the job. Do as much as you have time for right then, and then come back to it later when you have more time. The bit you did right away will help you do a more complete job later, but only if it's not too much later. Top Next Issue
Do you spend your days scurrying from meeting to meeting? Do you ever wonder if all these meetings are really necessary? (They aren't) Or whether there isn't some better way to get this work done? (There is) Read 101 Tips for Effective Meetings to learn how to make meetings much more productive and less stressful — and a lot more rare. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Emotions at Work:
- Cellf Esteem
- When a cell phone goes off in a movie theater, some of us get irritated or even angry. Why has the cell
phone become so prominent in public? And why do we have such strong reactions to its use?
- A Guide for the Humor-Impaired
- Humor can lift our spirits and defuse tense situations. If you're already skilled in humor, and you
want advice from an expert, I can't help you. But if you're humor-impaired and you just want to know
the basics, I probably can't help you either. Or maybe I can...
- Inappropriate Levels of Regard
- The regard we have for others as people is sometimes influenced by the regard we have for the work they
do. Confusing the two is a dangerous error.
- Fooling Ourselves
- Humans have impressive abilities to convince themselves of things that are false. One explanation for
this behavior is the theory of cognitive dissonance.
- The Restructuring-Fear Cycle: I
- When enterprises restructure, reorganize, downsize, outsource, spin off, relocate, lay off, or make
other adjustments, they usually focus on financial health. Often ignored is the fear these changes create
in the minds of employees. Sadly, that fear can lead to the need for further restructuring.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 23: Power Distance and Teams
- One of the attributes of team cultures is something called power distance, which is a measure of the overall comfort people have with inequality in the distribution of power. Power distance can determine how well a team performs when executing high-risk projects. Available here and by RSS on October 23.
- And on October 30: Power Distance and Risk
- Managing or responding to project risks is much easier when team culture encourages people to report problems and question any plans they have reason to doubt. Here are five examples that show how such encouragement helps to manage risk. Available here and by RSS on October 30.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- The Race to the South Pole: Lessons in Leadership
On 14 December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. But to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. We'll use the history of this event to explore lessons in leadership and its application to organizational efforts. A fascinating and refreshing look at leadership from the vantage point of history. Read more about this program.
Here's a date for this program:
- Baldwin-Wallace University, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio
44017: November 7,
Kerzner Lecture Series/International Project Management Day, sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute.
- Baldwin-Wallace University, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio 44017: November 7, Kerzner Lecture Series/International Project Management Day, sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.