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Published Articles by David Balovich

Title: Attending Seminars
Published in: Creditworhty News
Date: 4/4/01

This column is inspired by an email received from Carla in Santa Barbara California who writes that she attended a seminar on credit and collections but the speaker never covered the topics she was interested in nor did she have the opportunity to ask the questions she wanted answers to. She felt that she had wasted her entire day and even though she was able to get her money back she could not recover the lost time she spent at seminar. She asks, “Is there anyway to check out a seminar before investing time and money?”

Hers is a common complaint of participants of “hotel seminars” offered through numerous seminar companies. During the twelve years I spent conducting “hotel seminars” for the D&B organization, I experienced similar complaints from participants. It is important to remember that when 50 – 100 people from different companies, industries and levels of experience converge to obtain information on a generic topic it is very difficult for the speaker to meet the expectations of each participant. It is the primary reason that after D&B exited the seminar business that I chose not to continue providing this type of venue. Today, we provide seminars for industry groups, associations or individual companies where the information provided is more specific to the needs of the participant.

However, when attending a “hotel seminar” there are some things that can be done to assure that the program will be worthwhile.

  1. Read the brochure and locate the paragraph entitled  “who should attend” and the information to be covered. If it says that everyone from the president on down should attend and covers both consumer and commercial information chances are very high that this program will be very generic and will not cover in detail the desired information. Look for programs specific to what you want to learn. They are rare but they do exist. 
  2. Determine who wrote the seminar. Some speakers write their own material while others just present the material provided them. The seminar company can provide this information. You are better off attending a seminar where the speaker has written the material because, in the majority of cases, he is knowledgeable about the topic and in a better position to answer questions. Also, the presentation will be more enjoyable because the information presented will not be memorized, or worse, read. 
  3. Determine if the seminar allows time for questions and if questions will be entertained. Again, the seminar company can tell you. Believe it or not, there are some seminar companies who do not allow their speakers to answer questions or discuss topics not included in the seminar material. 
  4. Contact the speaker before registering and ask if he plans to cover the information you are interested in. A good seminar company may not provide you the speaker’s phone number but they will take your information and pass it on to the speaker with a request to contact you. 
  5. Be prepared. Write down your questions before attending seminar. Do not expect more than two to be answered; after all, there are others who will have questions. However, if you type or legibly print your questions and bring an addressed, stamped envelope, a good speaker will be willing to answer your questions and return them to you later.

The most worthwhile seminar is one held at your location. However, it may cost more then you have allocated in your training budget. Consider getting a group of competitors or other businesses together in your area to share the cost. This way you choose only the subjects that are of interest to you, rather then having to sit through why, ‘Johnny still gets to see the doctor when Mrs. Jones hasn’t paid the bill for three months and the insurance company won’t return telephone calls.’

I wish you well.

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