• Offsite - Arrival



    If you are training on a new site there are a number of questions you must ask before you start.

    • Where are you going? Have you got the joining instructions?

    • What time does it start?

    • How will I get there?

    • Where can I park? (if I have a car)

    • Who is the contact?

    • If I need powerpoint,, how do I get it?

    • What do I do about lunch? (if it is a full day course)


    On a first seminar you should try and arrive I hour before the seminar to familiarise yourself with the room and the facilities and to organise the room ready for the delegates. You can als use it to check if there is enough flipchart paper, board pens etc. If you need a powerpoint, make sure that someone is organised to provide it.

    I know all this and I do it all the time. So here is how it all goes wrong.


    I arrive from sunny London in Paris and catch a train to a city about two hours outside. Then a taxi to my hotel. I have four days with this company outside Paris. First mistake. Who is my onsite contact? Ah, all HR facilities are based in Paris but never mind, ‘Someone will be there to meet you.’

    At the hotel I try and order a taxi to the site. ‘Oh, sorry sir. There’s an agricultural fair. Taxi services are not accepting bookings for such a short journey. You’ll have to walk.’

    Second mistake. ‘How far is it?’ ‘Oh, only about half a mile.’ Nothing is only half a mile just as nothing takes only five minutes. The seminar starts at 09.30 so I start at 0800 to give me half an hour to get there. I have a map.

    Fourth mistake. It is absolutely dropping down with rain. Luckily reception has one umbrella. I grab it. Half an hour later, dripping wet, I arrive at the site.

    Fifth mistake. I will ring the delegates. Ah, do you mind waiting five minutes? ‘ Nothing takes five minutes. See Second mistake. I wait half an hour. Finally, half an hour to go, delegate arrives and takes me through security to room.

    Sixth mistake, and I haven’t even started training yet! ‘Ah, you need an official card to sign out a powerpoint from logistics and we don’t have the authority.’ ‘Who has?’ HR in Paris!’

    Catch 22.

    This is when you learn to improvise. So you start with a computer, your manuals and a flipchart with the used paper reversed, so at least you can begin. I get out the manuals. Ah! In the pouring raining the manual covers are stained with damp and the sodden pages of my notebook are beginning to stick together. I plug in the computer and stop just in time. The points are wet. Do I want to blow up the whole site? I dry them and we start.

    Now, it’s lunchtime. Everyone goes off for lunch. For 90 minutes! None of this sandwich in the training room stuff.

    What about me? ‘Oh, they didn’t give you a pass? Sorry, you need a pass to order meals in the staff canteen.’ At last, something I am prepared for! The yoghurt and banana I stole from the breakfast room serves me well.

    Ah well, hopefully it will be better tomorrow.


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