WE ALL strive to be harder, better, stronger, more efficient, but ask yourself when was the last time you worked on your "soft skills"? Communication skills are one of my favourite examples. There is always room for improvement. Brian Tracey, the self-proclaimed "success expert", once said "communication is a skill that you can learn. It's like riding a bicycle or typing. "If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life." Once you actually decide to invest time and money in developing your skills, here are a few things to think about. In advance Do your research. Find out as much information as possible about the training course. In the first instance, read the course descriptor on the website or email the training company and they will provide it. There might be pre-course work required. The day before Get in to the learning mode, avoid adopting "I will just survive it and that’s it" approach. Think in the long-term. You are about to invest in your career development. There is always something you can learn. Finding your motivation is the key. Unmotivated people will not learn a thing even if they were to attend a world class training programme. Take a minute to clarify why you are going on the training course, seek support from your boss if you are unclear. Next thing to do is to get your workload in order. Let your colleagues know that you will be away and they should only contact you if urgent. This will minimise distractions on the day. Training requires a great deal of concentration, so do not plan to take any work with you hoping to get it done on your lunch break. This would take your focus off the training / learning experience. Lastly, check how to get to the venue. On the day Arrive early The early bird catches the worm. Arriving early will give you a chance to relax with a cup of tea or coffee and speak to your fellow delegates. You can take this opportunity to network and just chat away. Sounds much nicer than arriving last minute and trying to squeeze into a non-existing parking space, right? Get involved Play an active part in all exercises. Give your opinion. You might feel stretched out of your comfort zone but that’s where the learning happens. Don’t stay passive at any cost. This is not a class in school. Bear in mind that the trainers are here to help you achieve your goals and everyone is in the same boat. Ask questions to clarify meanings, listen actively to others … be genuinely curious. Create an action plan At the end of the course, try to find a few moments to scribble a few bullet points. What are you going to do differently as a result of the training? What ideas are you going to take forward and implement? Post-course At the end of the training session, you will be asked to fill in a feedback form. Give honest answers. Your feedback is invaluable and can be a source of great ideas for improvement. Showing up on the day and getting through the training session is just the beginning of the skills building process. You are now on a mission to breaking old habits. Read over your course materials again to remind yourself of the key points. While you are still feeling enthusiastic, take further action. Buy a book on the subject, watch videos on YouTube or book some follow-on training. Review your action plan Set yourself a deadline to review your progress. Ask yourself questions in the lines of "Am I better today at [XYZ] than I was a three months ago?" Do not be too hard on yourself. Remember that slow progress is better than no progress after all. Feeling inspired? Take a look at our training portfolio.