Changing Faces of Corporate Seminars

Changing Faces of Corporate Seminars

Long gone are all those boring seminar days with a stack of books to keep you busy. Now, it’s fresh air and nature walks to help stimulate motivational training.

Corporations and businesses everywhere are preparing for the year 2000. While they may be paying more attention to their software systems, they still have not taken their eyes off their most important assets, the employee.

As we enter the next millennium, employers are preparing their workers for year 2K thinking, and this means training seminars to help implement behavioural changes. Here’s where the consulting companies come in.

What do you think about first when corporations and training seminars come to mind? Boring, drawn out days of taking notes and listening to monotone speeches most likely. However, times have changed, and lecture halls and binder notes are a thing of the past.

Companies such as Dale Carnegie, CANGRAM International Inc., Chatham’s Colette Annetts and Associates and the international firm of Right Management Consultants (based in Toronto) are changing the face of the traditional seminar, and revamping these sessions into employee empowerment.

Now corporate seminars include alternative learning styles like mountain climbing, nature walks, and anything that stimulates the senses and the mind.

According to Maureen Geddes, Founder and President of CANGRAM International Inc. (with offices in Chatham and Toronto), “Times have changed and so has the way we educate our employees.”

She suggests that stimulating the brain through alternative methods such as taking employees out of their element and changing the venue, help break down the barriers that most employees have about corporate seminars.

“Appealing and stimulating the senses is something that most workers do not expect. Taking them out of the normal work day element permits them to let their hair down, if you will,” explains Geddes.

She expects to accomplish her goals through seminars that “tap into your unlimited potential”. She delivers seminars that deal with such issues as Diversity Skills for Leaders/Managers, Gender Bender seminars and Sexual Harassment Prevention plus Conflict Resolution seminars. However, she does not stop there, “networking is very important in today’s work environment, and I tap into my resources whenever I can”.

One of her networking colleagues is Colette Annetts, President of Colette Annetts and Associates. Annetts unique approach to seminars includes role playing. Here the employee assumes the role of manager and the manager takes on the role of employee.

Annetts, a former KPMG (chartered accountants) Senior Consultant branched out on her own for personal needed, and of course to be her own boss. “We are a performance consulting firm, and we are dedicated to helping business get results”.

Companies such as Hiram Walker have utilized the services of both Geddes and Annetts very recently.

Laura Meneaud, a training and development professional along with Geddes facilitated a four day workshop called AGENDA, a Women’s Development Seminar. In this workshop, aromatherapy was used, as well as visual aids and networking.

Jackie Duczman, Card Administrator (for travel and expenses purchases) for Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine, a division of Hiram Walker and Sons, had this to say about the AGENDA empowerment seminar that she attended.

“I thought the program was invigorating!” says Duczman. “I went into the week with low self esteem assuming that it is nearly impossible to advance very far. Throughout the week, we were taught how the corporate glass ceiling is self imposed, as well as presentation skills, how people listen differently to what is being said, and setting goals and following through.”

Duczman goes on to say, “Throughout the week, they gave positive feedback, which boosted morale. I also had several chances to make presentations. We videotaped these and I was able to watch and learn. By the last presentation, I noticed a remarkable different in my physical appearance.”

She reveals she was smiling more, moving more freely and warming up to her audience. What are the long term effects of such a short term seminar? Duczman says she now possesses the skills to prepare in advance for meetings, which enable her to speak with confidence.

“The Women’s Development course was extremely well prepared and presented. The most beneficial portion of the course for me was the presentation skills,” reveals Julie Bortolotti, Administrative Assistant for the newly launched Shared Service Centre (SSC) at Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine.

When Bortolotti prepared her video presentation at the seminar, she simply wrote it in her head rather than physically preparing an outline that had a beginning and an ending. “It lacked proper format,” says Bortolotti. Now with her new skills, she feels confident that she can keep an audience interested. “I will be more prepared and ensure the audience is clear about whatever issue I may be speaking on, from beginning to end.”

CANGRAM’s Geddes adds, “It is important to remind employees that it is their choice to get what they want to take from the seminars. It is my job to inspire them in as many ways as I can to make the choice to learn”.

Credit: Biz X Magazine, November 1998, p. 22

Author: Lisa Rene-de-Cotret

Originally Published: November, 1998