Not All Holiday Parties Have to Be Ugly

It is that time of year again. The time where we conservatively let loose in front of our co-workers and talk about something other than work at the annual holiday party. I enjoy holiday parties, as long as they are not awkward or forced. Just like training, if these parties are well thought out and curated, they can be really fun. Similarly, if they are poorly planned, they are awkward. Continue reading

Storytelling for Trainers

Last week, my daughter came home from the school library with her first graphic novel. She excitedly showed me how the story moved through the speech balloons and panels. Her excitement came from the novel approach (pardon the pun) to telling a story. She recently graduated to chapter books, and I think she was missing the imagery she had grown accustomed to in her beginner books. Continue reading

5 Ideas to Get Participants Exploring Your Content Before You Begin Speaking

Over the weekend I walked to the playground with my children and as they charged toward the play structures, I noticed that they suddenly stopped before they could reach the monkey bars and the slides. As I caught up with them, this is what I saw:

ASL

They had both found this board with instructions on how to sign each letter of the alphabet using American Sign Language, and they were trying to spell their names.

They had the entire playground to themselves and they stopped to interact with this board. It made me start to wonder: how can we capture our own learners’ curiosity in order to get them to want to interact with our content even before we begin our presentations?

Here are five ideas:  Continue reading

Why does it matter if people in your organization don’t like to lead training sessions?

There are a lot of reasons why someone may not like being asked to train others in your organization.

Perhaps they’re busy and don’t have time for “one more thing.” Maybe they have anxiety around speaking in front of others, especially their peers. Perhaps they feel like they’re not an expert, or worse, they suffer from a touch of “Imposter Syndrome“.

Whether or not they like to do presentations at work, it is essential that high performers have an opportunity to share their expertise. In his book The Leadership Engine, Noel Tichy writes, “Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. all… had strong ideas, values, energy, and edge, but without disciples to spread their mission, both during their lifetimes and after their deaths, their legacies would have been short-lived.”

Organizations need disciples to buy in to their mission and carry out the myriad tasks that keep the organization running. To do this, organizations need people who will embrace training others. How can we set people up for success every time they present, and perhaps help people across the organization embrace the opportunity when they’re called upon to train others?   Continue reading

3 Principles for Effective PowerPoint Presentations

Last month I had an opportunity to write a 20-page booklet for ATD entitled PowerPoint: Your Co-facilitator.

Powerpoint Your Co-Facilitator - effective powerpoint presentations

Since then, a number of friends and colleagues have asked me to boil the booklet down into the top five or ten tips that lead to effective PowerPoint presentations. As I reflected on that question, I think there are three guiding principles that can make any PowerPoint deck better. And these principles have very little to do with conventional advice such as “bullets kill, so eliminate bullet points” or “only use three lines of text, no more than 8 words per line, and no smaller than 36 point font”. My principles have little to do with the need to hone your graphic design skills, either.   Continue reading

Presentation Skills Checklist

Even if the content is good, presentations can break down quickly with a bad presenter. As a toastmaster and a presenter, I have learned a lot of tricks on how to bring a presentation from good to great. I focus on a Presentation Skills Checklist (please download for your own use) to ensure I am executing great presentation skills. The points I check on that list are room presence, eye contact, filler word elimination, vocal variety, and, time management. Continue reading

Six Ways to Build a Better Training Role Play

Many people find the six dirtiest words in a training setting to be: “Now let’s do a role play!”

There are many reasons people don’t like role play, and many of those reasons are legitimate. Often people don’t have enough context to carry on an effective scenario. Often the role play arrives at a happily-ever-after sort of conclusion that is neat and easy to wrap up in a training setting, but not actually realistic at all. Often people don’t like getting up in front of all their colleagues… and then receive feedback.

There’s gotta be a better way.   Continue reading

Case Study: Continuing the Learning after a Conference Session

Last fall I had an opportunity to deliver a pair of presentation skills sessions at the Arkansas Early Childhood Association Annual Conference in Little Rock. Everyone I encountered during the few days that I was in Arkansas showed me an amazing time, the session participants were engaged throughout, and then I got on a plane and returned home. What did the participants do with the concepts I’d taught?

Recently, I exchanged a few messages with one of the conference organizers – Michelle Pounds – and was amazed to hear how they had extended the learning from my sessions. It can serve as a model for how organizations can get the most out of their investment in sending people to a conference, maximizing the possibility that the learning is applied in the real world. Following is a brief description of what Michelle and her team did to keep the learning going, written in Michelle’s words:   Continue reading