Tip #286: Preparing to Conduct Workshops in Hotels #3

Last week, we added four more items to our checklist for preparing to conduct a workshop in a hotel. Those items related to mailing materials ahead of time.

This week, we add four more items related to what to pack and what to carry on to the airplane with you. Feel free to suggest additional items!

9. Items that you absolutely must carry on to the plane with you.

If you are bringing any of the following, make sure to bring them onto the plane with you.

  • Laptop computer
  • Digital camera
  • Digital recorder
  • Ipod
  • Chargers for any of the above
  • Any other technological gadgets
  • Jewelry
  • A copy of your training materials
  • Your list of contact names and numbers
  • Medications
  • A change of clothing (or at least underwear)
  • Address and phone number of the hotel
  • FedEx mailing receipts for any boxes you have mailed to the hotel
  • A picture on your cell phone of the suitcase(s) you put into airline luggage (to help to describe them to the airport if they are lost in transit)
  • Books or magazines to read during wait and transit times (I read quickly, so I get paperback library books. I know that others purchase paperbacks and then leave them when they are done reading them. Some airports have bookstores that will give you most of your money back when you return the book!)
  • An empty water bottle (to fill once you’re past security and in the terminal)
  • Toiletry essentials
  • Lumbar support for the small of your back (a small pillow, since the airlines don’t provide them any more; or I just wear a hoodie that I can roll up and use as a lumbar support)- this will alleviate back, neck and hip problems, or at least it has for me
  • Extra tissues
  • Something over-the-counter for headaches (if you are prone to them, as I am)
  • Cough drops
  • I also pack a generic nondrowsy decongestant to take just before I get on the plane to keep my ears open (otherwise I have a painful flight)

10. How to carry items onto the plane.

Right now, the airlines let you bring one small bag and a pocket book onboard with you.

I have a rolling laptop case with enough sections for me to include almost all of the items listed above. I have a big baggallini (that is the make of a lightweight tote that zips) for my pocket book and anything that doesn’t fit into my rolling laptop case.

Make sure that anything you use has a tag with your name, address, office and cell phone numbers on it.

11. Items to pack.

  • Layered outfits (so you can add or subtract clothing depending upon the temperature of the training room)
  • Sleep wear
  • I bring a pillow and pillow case (otherwise I get a sore neck)
  • Two pairs of shoes to train in (if you are going to be conducting training for more than two days you will appreciate them)
  • Band aids and antiseptic cream (you just never know if you’ll need them)
  • Slippers (my feet get very tired after a full day of training)- if they are structured slippers, make sure to pack socks or something in them so they don’t get squashed and rip the seams… (Clearly, the voice of experience here!)
  • Additional paperback books or whatever you like to do in your spare time (you can tell what I do when I have the time!)
  • Clothing to relax in
  • Small expandable umbrella or rain coat
  • A large plastic bag for dirty clothing (yes, I know that many hotels provide laundry bags, but it’s better to be prepared if they don’t)
  • Extra plastic storage bags (especially if you plan to bring training materials back with you in your suitcase)

12. How to identify your luggage in baggage

So many suitcases look the same these days, it helps to do something that will make your luggage stand out as it rolls past you on the baggage conveyer belt. I put a colorful ribbon on mine.

As with your carry on items, make sure that each piece of luggage has a tag with your name, address, office and cell phone numbers on it.

Next week, we’ll add to this checklist to cover issues related to getting from the airport to the hotel.

Last week, we posed Beth Eberhardt’s question about how to approach training within the context of stressful situation:

My question as a new trainer is, “how do you facilitate the conversation in regards to times like these?” For example…within our system we are a college, therefore: we are dependent upon state funding which is up in the air, we are facing a double digit increase in enrollment, and our Governing Board has just hired a firm to come in and do an efficiency study. In anticipation of doing some of our training topics on change, communication, goal planning, diversity, etc. how do you anticipate the participants demeanor, questions etc and then how do you tactfully address their concerns without shutting them down? (one nice thing is most of the training we do is not mandatory therefore they are still there on their free will.”

Several things come immediately to mind. You need to disconnect the negative transfer of their issues and concerns into the workshop and then refocus the participants. My mantra is recognize and then refocus!

First, it may be useful to give folks a time to vent. They have feelings and they need some validation.

One way to do this is to have the group to list their concerns, then go down the list to identify which concerns are valid and which are not. Finally, brainstorm with the group how to address or minimize the valid concerns.

Another way to do this and move the focus on a more constructive response is to set up an oral relay. Have half of the group identify the cons of the situation and half of the group identify the pros of the situation. Then line the participants up in parallel lines, one side with the cons and one side with the pros. They should take turns identifying a con and identifying a pro, which may or may not relate to each other. Just make sure that the last person to speak identifies a pro to the situation.

Second, help the folks recognize the benefits of what they will learn.

I think that it is important to acknowledge the reality of the situation. Pretending that the participants are not distracted by the current stressors is a recipe for disaster. However, that being said, it is also imperative that you redirect their energy toward something positive as quickly as possible. They have chosen to attend that particular training for a specific reason. For example, you might say: “We are all aware of x [the current situation].. That is why it is even more important for us to focus on this information/skill/procedure, because it will help us to y.”

When you have the participants introduce themselves, have them also explain their reason for attending the training. If there are too many participants for individual introductions, use common ground questions, such as: “How many of you are here because this is a skill that you want to develop?” “How many of you are here because you know that what you learn in this session will help you on your job or in your life?”

Make sure to have an activity in which the participants need to identify the benefits of learning what the session covers. You can make this a fun exercise by adding the element of competition into it: have tables or groups of individuals compete to list the greatest number of benefits in a specific period of time (5-8 minutes). The group that has the most valid benefits wins a prize: (candy bars, a bowl of M&Ms, small novelties from a place like Oriental Trading Company, etc.).

Third, design your learning program within the context of the situation. In other words, make sure that what they are learning will really help them cope, survive, or thrive in the situation. It is imperative to build their confidence in their own competence, and help them recognize that they have choices and can assume some degree of control over the situation.

For example, if the topic is change, include a learning activity that has the participants identify how they have effectively handled difficult changes in their lives. This can build their confidence and remind them of strategies that have served them well in the past.

If the topic is goal setting, give them strategies to set goals within different parameters (different budgets, different enrollment figures, etc.) Then make sure they have an opportunity in the class to practice setting goals.

The good thing is that you are already aware of the issues. However, sometimes issues can blindside you and you need to respond without a chance to plan ahead.

There are two very difficult situations in which I was blindsided by the issues and still had to conduct training that may provide additional ideas regarding how to handle participants.

First, I was scheduled to conduct a leadership workshop for the Wisconsin Conservation Corps in the north woods of Wisconsin. People were very late arriving because they had just learned that one of their peers had been murdered the day before. There was an immediate need to give them time to talk through their shock and grief. Then we focused on what could be done to assist the victim’s family and workplace, because it helps to give grieving folks a plan of action. Finally, we discussed how to ensure that this situation would not occur again, because the other site managers felt vulnerable and frightened themselves. We spent the morning on these topics. Then, after lunch, we moved into leadership development activities with immediate practicality: how to establish goals and provide direction to workers impacted by the tragedy, how to manage communications and strengthen relationships with clients who were also impacted, how to ensure a safe work environment, etc.

Second, I was scheduled to conduct a workshop on coping with change for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Several participants arrived red-eyed, because they had just been given pink slips! The focus of the workshop was on bolstering self esteem and identifying effective courses of action to take to maintain physical and emotional well being the face of change. I made sure to emphasize that organizational changes are not personal- despite the fact that we often describe ourselves in terms of our jobs, we are NOT our jobs. So, even if the job is considered unnecessary at this time, it does not invalidate the work we have done in that job and it definitely does not invalidate us as persons. A major element of the workshop was to help participants recognize that they always have choices and that they can choose to have control over their situation. In this case, luckily, the workshop content was exactly what the participants needed.

If anyone else has suggestions, please let me know and I’ll be happy to print them in upcoming Tips!

Now to this week’s Tip, where we continue our look at handy tips to prepare to conduct workshops in hotels- specifically, how to get from the airport to the hotel.
In this week’s Tip, we continue our look at handy tips to prepare to conduct workshops in hotels- specifically, how to get from the airport to the hotel.

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