I want to help you make your coaching education as meaningful, actionable, and useful as possible.
I assume you want this too, which is why you invest in your Continuing Professional Development, or CPD. There’s nothing wrong with going on a course purely because you enjoy it, but time is money, and, well, money is money. So having a plan to maximise your take-homes (learning points) AND your take-home (return on investment) from the CPD you do is a wise idea.
That’s my first note on making the most of your CPD. Engage with any course you undertake with the aim of making the most out of it. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy it too. For me, enjoyment of any given CPD course is very closely correlated with how much useful stuff I learn. But learning is not a passive process. It’s not just about being fed useful stuff. It’s about working to make what you learn useful to you, your coaching, and your clients.
Here are four practical strategies to help you maximise the ROI from your CPD.
Note: I’m going to use the word “course” throughout this article, but this could equally be mean a workshop, talk, seminar, or any other type of in-person education.
1. Take Notes
The input to your brain is through your senses. The more you get multiple senses involved in your learning experience, the more input you give your brain, and the more chance you have of making your learning more meaningful. There’s a responsibility for the educator to facilitate this, through hands-on learning (literally), visualisation, multiple modes of interaction, along with many other strategies. But there are ways you can facilitate this through your note-taking, too.
This is why I favour pencil and paper note-taking over computer-based note-taking. The opportunity to increase sensory input is vast – through sight (different visual interpretations e.g. lists, mindmaps, diagrams, sketches, or simple paragraphs), along with touch (the feel of the paper, the feel of the pencil writing on paper), even the sound that pencil on paper makes. I’ll stop before we go into taste or smell.
You don’t have to use pencil and paper. But even if everything else you do is digital, there might be something to be said for writing notes by hand and taking a photograph of them before uploading them. Apps like Evernote are so intuitive they can search the handwriting in your photos just as you would be able to search typed-up text.
As an aside, there’s something about coaches and their stationery. From board pens to notebooks, I’ve had passionate conversations with many coaches on what is bordering on a stationery fetish. Or maybe that’s just me…
2. Write Up Your Notes
Ever gone back through a set of notes and wondered what the hell it was you wrote? Yeah, me too. We give every Strength Education student two custom A4 dotted notebooks at the start of their education with us: The Work Book, and The Why Book.
The Work Book is the rough and ready note-taking book – to take notes at the module sessions, draw mindmaps, play about with ideas, sketch out movements, draft up programming, collect thoughts, and generally get initial notes down on paper.
The Why Book is the neat notebook – to write up secondary versions of your notes, lay out programming assignments from the modules, create summary pages from the discussions, and generally create a reference book for yourself.
Writing up your notes is a powerful process. It helps you to:
- Connect up thoughts
- Streamline ideas
- Reiterate key points
- Mark out pieces for further investigation
- Create a list of questions you want to ask.
On that note…
3. Ask Questions
Take it upon yourself to ask whatever questions you need to throughout your course. I’m not suggesting you be purposefully obnoxious, but I am suggesting that you ask whatever questions come to mind without fear of being ridiculed. I’ve seen world-renowned coaches do this.
- A bad course will give you nothing but a token opportunity to ask questions, will be defensive about questions that go against the grain of the course, and will often dismiss or discredit those who ask them.
- A good course will give you good opportunity to ask questions, will be accepting of questions that go against the grain of the course, and respectful of those who ask them.
- A great course will encourage you to ask questions, will actively seek questions that go against the grain of the course, and will put those who ask them at ease.
4. Ask More Questions
All of the CPD education we do now at Strength Education is within 12-month long programmes. One of the biggest reasons for this is to allow coaches to come back with more questions, whether at other live events, through coaching calls, in discussion groups, or via e-mail.
This opportunity for accountability and questions is incredibly important in terms of creating meaningful action around your course. I also know of some education providers who have accountability groups for a set period (e.g. 30 or 60 days) following the course, which is an awesome idea.
Got these nailed? There are two more strategies to make the most of your CPD:
- Create your own coaching philosophy and systems.
- Create a team of coaches with shared philosophy and systems.
I wanted to keep this article short, readable, and actionable, but I’m happy to write further on these two levels if the interest is there. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to read them.