Everyone likes to save money!
And don’t we hate it when we feel ripped off! Whether you want to improve your skill set for personal or career development – or both, it’s important to use those training dollars wisely and save money wherever you can. Likewise, if you’re in charge of your organisation’s training budget, you’ll want the best bang for your buck.
Before you run through this list of ways to save money, it’s important to consider what you or the course participant wants to achieve. Some training seminars might appear inexpensive yet provide great value for money, others might be expensive and offer little benefit, skill development or behavioural change. Your training dollars might simply be paying for an expensive advertising campaign. Use this checklist to help you save money and decide what’s best for you or your organisation.
What do you want?
Is your goal to gain an understanding or further your education on a particular subject? Or do you want to develop a new skill set? Put another way; Do you want to know about a skill, or do you want the ability to perform that skill? For example; I give short presentations about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) because people want to know about the topic and how NLP can be used. They won’t necessarily be able to use NLP skills at the end of a presentation where they’ve just heard about it. They’ll need to attend a training course to gain NLP skills.
Maybe you just need a book!
If it’s just knowledge about a topic you’re seeking, you may be able to save money by attending a short presentation where the presenter talks about the topic. For example, if you’re keen on learning more about French history between 1805 and 1914 or how DNA is used to trace your ancestors, then a lecture or public presentation on the subject may be very useful to you. Often, reading a book over a period of days or weeks can provide the knowledge you seek. If it’s a skill set you want to learn, then you’ll probably need a lot more than a book or a lecture. Acquiring a new skill or set of competencies means taking time to learn and adopt new behaviours and ways of thinking, so please beware of short courses promising the world! There’s a reason learner drivers can’t drive a car solo as soon as they pass their written test. They need to have learnt and mastered the skill of actually driving a car! Just knowing the theory is merely the beginning of developing a new competency. Which is a nice segue to my list.
1. Check out the trainer as well as other people’s experiences
Does the trainer have the required recognised qualifications to teach the course? Will your certification be acknowledged by anyone other than the trainer? This is important if you want to achieve a qualification that will be recognised Nationally or Internationally. An unrecognised course will only save money in the short term.
Review testimonials from individuals who have done the same training you’re contemplating doing. Did the training meet their expectations? Talk to some of them as well if possible, especially if it’s a long or expensive course. Speak to the trainer about what you want to achieve to ensure a course will meet your needs.
2. Will the trainer demonstrate what’s taught?
If your aim is to develop new skills, watching a trainer demonstrate what they’re teaching can be invaluable. I’ve been on courses where they are no demonstrations. People get their individual understanding of what to do, but everyone goes off and does the exercise differently! The results are variable at best, and if the trainer or an assistant isn’t paying close attention, an errant participant may believe they’ve done the exercise correctly and continue to do it the same way once they leave the training room. Given that over 80% of communication is non-verbal, watching a demonstration of an exercise is critical.
3. How much time will you get to practice during the course?
Practice – and getting feedback – is the best way to embed a new skill set. Without having practised something, how will you know whether you can do it or not? I can think of many skills that look easy – until you attempt them yourself! A trainer will make an exercise look easy (usually because they’ve used the skill they’re demonstrating dozens or even hundreds of times). And let’s face it, if a trainer makes an exercise look complicated, how much confidence will that give the trainees to give it go? Practising, getting feedback and making adjustments is an excellent way to learn and improve. The test at the end of training is, ‘Can you do the skills you’ve been learning?’ Your trainer should ensure you can adequately perform the skills taught. You won’t be an expert by the end of the training course, but you should be capable of doing what you’ve learnt.
Which brings me to…
4. Don’t expect to be perfect once you leave the training room.
To improve the skills you’ve learnt, you’ll have to practice, practice, practice! Each time you practice you’ll become more proficient (provided you watched a demonstration and got feedback on your performance – see 2 and 3 above) because practice reinforces the new neural pathway created when you learnt and practised on the course. If you don’t continue to practice after the course, that neural pathway will become weaker and eventually cease to exist. It will feel as if you never did the training in the first place. You will not have saved money.
5. Can you ask questions and get them answered?
A good trainer thrives on questions for they recognise a question as a teaching opportunity. Most trainers are generous with information, but they have a curriculum to teach, and they’re careful about what they’re teaching. They want to ensure clarity and don’t want to give unnecessary information which might confuse or overwhelm a beginner. However, a question invites the trainer to offer deeper knowledge gained from their personal experiences.
Is the trainer responsive to the groups and individuals needs and able to accommodate those needs as part of the course? For example, a trainer who knows participants work roles can give specific examples to enable the smooth transfer of skill to a work context. A teacher should be sensitive to the energy in the room and provide breaks or exercises as appropriate, whether scheduled on not. Tired, unenergised participants don’t learn much! At the other extreme lots of hype, Ra, Ra, Ra, long training hours and little sleep can leave delegates on an artificial ‘high’ at the end of training. But how you feel and what you remember 3 or 4 days later is the real test of successful training.
7. A Sense of humour
Humour helps people learn. Laughing together (not at anyone’s expense) anchors people to what they learn, it cements relationships and builds trust and rapport, all beneficial to successful learning.
If you want to save money in the long term, use this checklist and avoid getting sucked in by flashy advertising that doesn’t deliver the training outcomes you want.
I have my MetaMorphosis Makeover Promise for The Power of Personal Change – MetaMorphosis 101 and NLP Practitioner Training – just so you know you can sleep easy with your training investment.
PS.If you think you can’t get ripped off by big name, high profile and expensive trainers – read this.