What’s the right formula when working with SMEs on training?

“How do we get subject matter experts (SMEs) to be better trainers?”

It’s a question I hear often, especially in light of the recent presentations I’ve been doing on the concept of radioactive elements, which comes from my book What’s Your Formula?

Before I dive more deeply into SMEs, I want to remind everyone what “radioactive elements” are. Radioactive elements are components of training that can be very powerful, but they can also be very dangerous or even harmful if they’re not used very well. As you can see from the image below, these elements include some of the most commonly used pieces for training today: lecture, PowerPoint, SMEs, handouts, smile sheets (level 1 evaluation forms), icebreakers, elearning, augmented reality, role play, games and data.

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What kind of training facilitator are you?

In June, my book What’s Your Formula: Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training was released. While the majority of the pages revolve around a periodic table of learning elements, there is also a chapter about an “X-factor” that can have as much impact on any training program as the elements used to design the program. That X-factor is the presenter.

In July, the Association for Talent Development published an article I wrote to expand on this idea of an X-factor in their monthly publication, TD magazine. The article was entitled Presenter, Know Thyself. This concept revolves around a presenter knowledge/ability learning matrix. The article goes into more depth about how to navigate this matrix to become a more effective presenter.

Why is it important to know where you might fall on this matrix? I’ve found this matrix to be very helpful in reassuring me, as a presenter, that I don’t need to be able to do everything perfectly.

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What should a Train The Trainer session look like nowadays?

On Monday, we shared a podcast recording with Ajay Pangarkar who has created a number of LinkedIn Learning courses on the topic of train the trainer and presentation skills.

This conversation got me thinking about Train the Trainer sessions in two ways:

  1. It got me curious about how people feel about facilitating Train the Trainer sessions within their own organizations, and
  2. It also got me thinking about what Train the Trainer sessions look like in an Age of the Pandemic, where so much of our training is done virtually.
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Blackboard Collaborate is the “Ultra Experience”

We know that many trainers have to work with the tools that they are given, which often includes the platforms you are allowed to use to deliver virtual training. If you are a trainer who gets to train using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Experience do a big happy dance!

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Experience blew us away with its usability and features. So much so, that we’re adding it as a Soapbox compatible platform! Take a look at a few of the factors that make Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Experience live up to its name:

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Free Lesson Plan: Training Your Staff on Converting Programs from In-person to Virtual

Here in the United States, after a year of COVID-19 we are hopefully slowly starting to return to resuming some training activities in person again. But everything will not suddenly return back to “normal”. We now know that may need to be ready to deliver in-person training or in-person conference sessions in a different way. So how can organizations best help their presenters convert their programs from in-person to virtual delivery?

Retrofitting your existing programs to try to do the same thing, just in a virtual environment is tempting. Keep in mind, however, that virtual delivery offers opportunities for which in-person instruction doesn’t allow… and there are some things you can do in-person that you just can’t do online. Below, you’ll find a lesson plan that we’ve created for a 90-minute session that you can use to help educate your staff, co-workers or clients on ways to think through the conversion from in-person to online instruction.

Retrofitting your existing programs to try to do the same thing, just in a virtual environment is tempting. Keep in mind, however, that virtual delivery offers opportunities for which in-person instruction doesn't allow. Click To Tweet Continue reading

I was a white racist. I think training made me a better person.

With a headline like that, I’m guessing my future career in politics may be over before it begins. I’m ok with that.

For a long time I felt that we lived in a nation that was realizing Dr. King’s dream, where people in the United States in the 2000s had every opportunity to be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. I worked in Washington, DC, in a youth center helping students earn their GED credential so they could have bigger and better opportunities. My students seemed to enjoy my tough love approach and my sense of humor and perhaps most importantly, my presentation style – it worked for my students in a way that their traditional high schools didn’t.

There were times when my students would be talking about “white people” and I’d give them a look and they’d quickly say: “Oh, we don’t see you as ‘white’, Brian!”

I worked with neighborhood gang members and drug dealers and it really felt to me that with some hard work, a good support system and some determination, anyone in this country had an opportunity to make it as far as they themselves wanted to go. I saw it with my own eyes! My students were earning their GEDs and getting jobs!

Then, a little over 13 years ago, I was serving as the training director for the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association. Our organization worked closely with the foster care system – a system which touched families of color at an overwhelmingly disproportionate rate compared to the general demographic make-up of the United States. Our organization’s volunteers across the country were overwhelmingly white and middle aged.

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