How to Get the Most Out of Classroom Training

This post was written by Kathie Elliott, Sr. HR Professional for Organization and Professional Development.

It’s Tuesday morning, and you realize you’re scheduled to attend a course which you completely forgot about until this moment. You arrive late, and the rest of the class is talking about the pre-work they completed and brought with them. As you grab an open chair, you feel your phone buzz and see a text from your co-worker. You are late and feel unprepared and distracted.

At your table, you contribute very little and try to avoid the facilitator’s eye. Four hours later you leave and feel you were too distracted by the work day’s emails piling up and your feeling of unpreparedness to focus on what you were supposed to learn.

Sound nothing like you? Great! Still, do you have a nagging feeling that you could be getting more out of your training opportunities? Read on for tips.


  1. Confirm Logistics: Know the location/time of the course and verify directions. Be sure to add in time for unexpected delays, like confusing Google directions or if you are supposed to be at Nisbet or at the Henry Center, Kellogg Center or other common locations. To be safe, check your email and junk mail for any class updates.
  2. Clear Your Calendar: Leave time for the class and a little time after in case you want to network or ask the facilitator a question. And give yourself time in the office afterward to think about what you learned, digest all that new information, and consider how to apply it. 
  3. Limit Distractions: Let your co-workers and family know that you’ll be attending a course that day and to not expect you to answer any calls or emails right away. Make sure you change your out of office message for your phone and email. Limit physical distractions by making sure you are rested, fed, hydrated, caffeinated, and prepared for fluctuating classroom temperatures. Favorite beverage, special dietary items, comfortable but appropriate clothing can enhance your learning experience.
  4. Bring Your Learning Mindset: Be a co-creator of your learning experience by coming prepared to learn relevant, immediately applicable skills. Many facilitators will send out reminder emails in the days leading up to the class with any prework or final notes. Then, try setting some goals for yourself. What are a few questions that you want answered? Do you want to meet and network with others in similar positions?


Since you’ve taken steps to limit distractions and discomfort, you’re all set to be an engaged learner. If you need a push to stay attentive, try asking one of your prepared questions, offer to be the spokesperson for your table, or jot down a couple notes to share with a co-worker later. If you’re more visually inclined, why not try visual note-taking? Visual note-taking – which uses a combination of images and text to help synthesize info – is a creative way to pay attention and capture/group the info you’re learning in class so you remember it better later.


Learning really doesn’t happen until it’s applied. Develop a post-training action plan and stick to it. In the amount of time it would take for you to brew a pot of coffee, you could jot down your top takeaways, action steps and goals, obstacles, resources and strategies, and how to keep yourself on track. Before you know it, you’ll be a hero at work for your willingness to learn new skills and share them with others

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