We have lots of ways to learn things these days, but one of the best and most effective ways might still be group learning at a live event.
I learn a lot when I go to a new place to learn new stuff with new people. Mixing things up this way is fun, energizing, and educational.
It can be a power boost to learning.
I went to a workshop to improve my public speaking skills this past weekend. The room was packed with eager learners at 8AM on a Saturday morning. That’s energizing.
The content of the day-long program was great, and it was another step forward in my journey to improve my public speaking skills which I blogged about recently.
Learning is great in any form, but learning at a special event and in a live setting with a bunch of other people is special in a few ways.
The Power of Commitment
I made that commitment some time ago. And once I sign up for something and fork over a few bucks, I’m way more likely to follow through.
That’s step one.
Which almost immediately prompted me to do a bit of research and reflection on the topic, which was “genuinely speaking,” or learning how to bring your uniqueness to the talk or presentation you want to deliver.
I always find that sort of pre-processing helpful. It’s good to get primed and ready for learning over some period of time.
I looked up some info on the speaker. I read about the organization putting on the event. I poked around at some related blog posts and videos.
(BTW, the speaker is an interesting guy. If you’re ever in the market for a hospice social worker and humorist, Ron Culberson is your guy!)
This all helped me to start to wrap my mind around the topic and to start thinking about how it relates to my own experiences and upcoming plans.
All this “pre learning” started well before the event, simply because I had made the commitment.
Soak In The Energy
Once the day arrives, and you show up ready and eager to learn, you run into a bunch of other people doing the same thing.
Group learning has energy to it. Particularly when it’s people who brought themselves together because they really want to learn.
I enjoy learning who the other people are and what brings them to the topic and the event. It’s great to see things from different perspectives, and I’m not sure there is a better way to do that than by talking about it with different people.
One of my favorite things is to hear the questions that other people ask. A lot of the times it’s something I might want to ask too. But many times it’s something completely different. That’s even more interesting.
Another interesting thing about this group is that it was all professional speakers of one sort or another, since the meeting was hosted by the National Speakers Association. I’m early in my own professional speaking journey, so it’s great to mix and mingle both with more experienced speakers and those also relatively new to the game.
A more important point, however, is that the group was very welcoming. I’m not a member. I’m not a regular. I just went there to learn.
I’ve done this with many specialized groups over the years and the response is always the same. I’m welcomed with open arms. And I gain a fresh perspective.
Convert Lessons to Skills
Now comes the hard-ish part. To take the lessons of the day and put them into practice.
I’m always exposed to more than I can master in any of these expeditions. But there are always a few nuggets that I make a point of applying.
Learning on its own, as much as I love it, means nothing to me if I don’t put it to use. If I don’t put it through my own filter. If I don’t make sense of it in some way that relates directly to my work.
I try to tap into that initial momentum and carry it through.
The trick, I think, is to not make such a big deal out of this. I try not to envision a transition from “zero to hero” overnight. I simply try to take lessons and apply them and to continue the learning.
It’s all an experiment. Which means we can learn from either failure or success.
Sign Up For Something
If you like learning, you might want to sign up for something yourself. To make a commitment which might prompt some pre-work.
To go to a live event and leverage the energy. To meet new people and learn about different perspectives.
And to put the lessons to use yourself, in your own little experiments.
Take your learning into your own hands. Go out to a new group, maybe. You could infiltrate just about any group in town pretty easily. Odds are that they’d love to have you join them.
More and more can be found on meetup.com or through eventbrite or through whatever calendar the local business paper might be culling together. And there’s always good old Google.com too.