I, along with some other team members, just got back from a whirlwind of excitement at CUNA’s Experience Learning Live (ELL) conference. We had some marvelous speakers, workshops, and breakout sessions that provided trainers and HR professionals with great information and materials. Being a first-timer to the conference (as staff and a part-time attendee) I was blown away by the enthusiasm trainers have for their profession, and what consideration they take for the employees they train.
Kicking off the conference we played the ELL version of ‘Amazing Race, San Diego’ where we sent attendees on an exploratory expedition of the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego to get them familiar with our ‘home-base’ neighborhood where the event was held. I thought this was a brilliant take on the game, and felt honored to give teams ‘Journey’ and ‘Kid Rock’ their clues as they flew through the checkpoints. After our photo-finish race had ended we held a networking reception so attendees could mingle and get geared up for the fun ahead.
The conference was full of useful information. Kirk Weisler kicked it off with a great opening act about creating a culture of high engagement, love, and strong connections. He brought home the idea of keeping a fun work environment where people are involved and a part of the organization, not just cogs in the machine. He later led us in bringing story-telling into the trainer toolbox, another great way to keep your audience engaged.
In Paul Wesselmann’s session we learned how to improve our training outlines by establishing key objectives of training to present a direct cohesive message, which is essential in a learner’s retention rate. Keeping it new, interesting and lively are key to keeping the attention of the training audience. Paul had great best practice pieces that I will apply to my future training endeavors. It’s amazing how a new perspective can shed some light on a training session you’ve been giving for years .
CUNA’s own experts got to share their tried and true methods as well. Courtney Cantwell presented her Trainer’s Treasure Chest of free resources to help make training resonate with today’s learners. Marlo Foltz and Angela Prestil brought toys into the training realm and showed how training can have a playtime element to it as well as an educational one. Carla Schrinner helped trainers improve their skills and techniques with elements within CUNA’s CML program while her co-part Jayne Hitman provided the keys of achieving peak performance. This lineup of content reminded me of the plethora of knowledge I can get from my co-workers. It’s so nice to know that I can walk down the hall and get expert advice from my peers.
The ELLY awards were an experience in themselves! I’ve heard such spectacular stories of the awards, I was psyched to put on my frilly dress and see the “best of the best “earn their deserved accolades. Serving as the ‘Vanna’ of ceremony, I got to hand off the awards to the recipient, giving an earnest ‘congratulations’ to each and every one of them. I was surprised when on more than one occasion; my eyes welled up while listening to their sincere acceptance speeches. It was very touching to see yet another display of enthusiasm for their chosen careers.
Throughout the conference, I felt a sense of community. I could hear fellow attendees creating their own roundtables (at literal round tables) during our mingling sessions! As I mentioned, their passion for training is apparent and contagious; it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
It’s so refreshing to speak (face-to-face!) with the trainers I often communicate with via e-mail and phone. Putting faces to names, and making meaningful connections was a key take-home element for me. There’s something very special about physically meeting, shaking hands with, or even hugging someone you regularly work with. In a movement where people helping people is our main philosophy, it was great seeing and speaking to those people whom we help, who help us, and who help others.