I've had the great privilege of meeting with many great speakers, teachers, and professors but when I found out this morning I would get to hear G. Felda Hardymon speak, I got very excited. Besides being the guy who made initial VC investments in The Sports Authority and Staples, he's supposed to be a great and engaging speaker from whom I should learn a lot.
I've also had the privilege of listening to other great professors such as Dave Buckner at Columbia and Dan Gode at NYU. Both were excellent at taking difficult and at times boring information and turning it into something exciting. I wonder what makes them such great speakers, aside from being very personable - it must have taken them years to develop their talents or perhaps it was a talent they have had all their lives. Fortunately, I get to listen to Dave again this summer at an SEO training session.
The point of this post is if you have a chance to listen to an engaging speaker, professor, or researcher, or if you're lucky enough to receive training from them, then do it! Even if you're busy you should try to attend speeches, free training, info. sessions, and the like. Many times colleges such as GT have free sessions for the general public - all anyone has to do is go.
The two aforementioned professors may not be as famous as the CEO's and CFO's I've met, but they sure have taught me a lot about "hard skills" such as finance and more importantly about "soft skills" such as how to be an engaging, inspirational speaker.