How To Retain Seminar Techniques

I like going to seminars, but I find it frustrating when I can’t remember everything that the instructor taught. The way I think of it, the seminar costs a certain amount of money and the instructor covered a certain number of techniques. details and concepts. The less I remember, the more expensive each retained technique becomes.

I paid good money for that seminar, and I want to get as much out of it as I can!

Sometimes an instructor will allow you to video the seminar – if that’s the case, then you’re laughing. You can review the techniques later just by watching the video. Many instructors have been burnt by video taping, don’t allow it anymore. They’re sick and tired of the material ending up on youtube and/or being traded by video pirates. As a video producer myself I can certainly sympathize with their point of view (the instructors, not the pirates).

My usual method of preserving the information is to take notes. I use a two-step method.

In the actual seminar itself I write things down as fast as I can, using abbreviations and paying no attention to neatness or organization. I can pretty much guarantee that if you got ahold of my rough notes they would make NO sense to you, (partially because my handwriting – when I’m going this fast – is about as bad as that of the average prescription-writing doctor…).

Then, within 48 hours, I write out the final set of notes, using the rough notes to help tickle my memory. In addition to having organized notes that I can refer to later, I find that the actual act of writing the material down a second time really helps me remember and internalize the techniques.

Recently though, I’ve been experimenting with another approach.

First I write the rough notes during the seminar, just as before. The goal here is not to write down everything, or be tidy – I’m just trying to create a set of triggers to help me remember the key points of the techniques.

Then, in the next few days, I grab my video camera and a willing body, preferably someone who was at the same seminar. I then film myself going through the material, referring to my notes as needed.

Now I have a video record of the seminar material, which is great, in and of itself. But even if I NEVER look at that footage again, the very act of reviewing and re-enacting the material helps burn it into the my memory.




(Some photos from seminars I’ve attended with Roy Harris, Roger Machado, Carlos Newton and Marc Laimon)

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