You’ll Save More Than Trees, Part I: Meetings, Seminars, & Workshops

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I will always have books, but I will soon be rid of most of my training binders, workbooks, and meeting notes from 25 years of corporate training and consulting.  I can’t read many of them; they were photocopied from photocopies of typed Courier 10 pitch, resulting in blurred masses of black ink on stark white paper.  I have held onto these binders because I was sure that one day I’d need to look something up.

The truth is, I look things up online first and in books second.  I rarely (never) turn to my old training binders for information.  They did not undergo the same scrutiny as that of a published book.  Frankly, they aren’t very good.  Even the training binders I created, which I thought were really good when I wrote them, aren’t anything special by today’s standards.  Their online counterparts are a whole lot better.  I will keep a few of these for sentimental reasons.  But that’s it.  I will not create any more, print any more, or suggest to others that they print any.

Ideas to make your training friendlier to both the environment and your students.

Let’s forget the three inch thick binders, the impossible to read printed slide presentations, and the tons of paper handouts that have become a part of business training.

Let’s put our resources (including money and space) to better use, while giving our students something they can use long after they leave our workshops.

Here are some ideas to “save trees” and make your students happy:

  1. Thumb Drives. Purchase them in bulk, with or without your logo.  Load each one with your presentation, useful links, drawings, tip sheets, etc.  The students won’t have to lug a big binder or piles of paper home in their luggage (or take the time to ship them) and they’ll have your information at their fingertips – literally. PrintUSB.com sells wooden thumb drives to reduce the use of plastic.  CustomUSB.com offers them in custom shapes.  Really inexpensive USB drives are available at any office supply store.
  2. Online Documents. Some large corporations and government agencies do not allow the use of thumb drives for security reasons.  If this affects your participants, place your documents online with a service such as Google Docs or Box.net.
  3. Commission Flexigroup to produce a slide chart or wheel.  These use far fewer materials than a training binder; people are likely to “play” with them, learning in the process! For proof of how fun they are, check out mine on Training Footprints.
  4. Instead of handing out your entire presentation, which has limited value without your delivery, create some “tip sheets” with the salient points of your workshop.
    • Hand out a small card like this one made from fruit tree pulp – or use one of the ideas below – to provide the web address and login information to attendees.
    • Or, you can limit access to these documents to those students who subscribe to your newsletter or other mailings, like I did on this site with my eBook.  Simply provide the login information in the final welcome email.
    • You can hand them out instead of the entire workbook.
    • You can laminate them or bind them up as quick reference guides. A service like Kinko’s can do this for you.
    • Vistaprint offers photo books for very reasonable rates for low quantities.
    • How about making a deck of playing cards from them, such as these Night Sky playing cards (for a course in astronomy).

Some topics that would make great quick references in any of the above formats, with or without illustrations:

  • 10 Steps to Financial Freedom
  • The 5 S of Lean
  • Quick Reference Guide to XYZ Software
  • Safely Jump Starting a Car Battery
  • 7 Stretches to Do at Your Desk
  • Checklist for a Successful Sales Call
  • 10 Ideas That Save More Than Paper
  • Survival Tips for Hikers and Hunters
  • Identifying counterfeit money

Additional Reading

 

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