I’d bet a gazillion dollars that every single person who is reading today’s blog post has something they could share with the rest of the world that would help other people do something new or differently or better.
I also bet that a few people who are reading this today have written a blog post or presented at a conference. A huge thank you to those who have. That’s a big way of how I’ve gotten to where I am today. I began just reading TD magazine cover to cover every month.
In today’s podcast, I share some thoughts about what may make for good content to share, why you might want to share it even if you don’t think anyone else would be interested, and where you might be able to share your thoughts, ideas, discoveries and practices.
Hello and welcome, everyone, once again to another episode of Train Like You Listen a podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks. I’m Brian Washburn, your host. And I’m also the Co-founder of a company called Endurance Learning. Today’s podcast is going to focus on why and how you might want to share some of your knowledge with other people in the industry. Whether that is learning and development industry, or maybe you are a part of a training team in another industry. Maybe we’re going to talk about why you would want to share some of your knowledge with people in your industry.
But before I get too far into this episode that I like to call “Know Something? Say Something!,” I want to let you know that we are brought to you by Soapbox, which is an online tool that you can use for 5 or 10 minutes, and you can take care of about 50 or 60% of the work when it comes to developing a live, instructor-led training. So, basically you tell the computer how long your presentation is, how many people are going to attend, whether it’s in-person or virtual, what your learning objectives are, and then Soapbox will do the rest of the work or some of the work for you. It’ll instantly generate a training plan for you with clusters of training activities that are designed to help you accomplish your learning outcomes. You go in, you change up the activities – if you want different activities, or you put it in your own talking points and boom, you have a lesson plan. So, if you want more information about that, go ahead and visit www.soapboxify.com.
How Might You Know If You Have Something Worth Sharing?
All right, let’s get back to this idea of “Know Something? Say Something!” The first question you might want to ask yourself is how might you know if you know something worth sharing? Now, this can be a conundrum. Some people talk about this idea of imposter syndrome, right? The idea that “I’m probably not good enough to present my ideas in front of others”, or “someone’s bound to point out that I’m a fraud. Who am I to teach anyone else something? There are so many other smarter people out there than I am.”
Honestly, I went through this exact thing when I was trying to develop a proposal for my book What’s Your Formula? And the editor that was helping me said, “Look, Brian. There is so much space in our field for all kinds of publications. Some people have deep expertise, and they’ll use data and research to get really nerdy about their topics. And that can be used for people who are more advanced in the profession. But then there’s other people in our industry who are new or who’ve only been doing this work for a few years, and they need something more basic, something where practitioners can share good information, but they can also share stories and can make all that theory and that research real. And that’s probably where your book would fit in.” And so that helped me get past my writer’s block of even developing a proposal for a book.
You know, for others, maybe it’s not necessarily imposter syndrome, it’s more of an attitude of, “Huh. I never really thought about sharing what I have been doing with others.” So it’s not a matter of feeling like an imposter, it’s more a matter of not even having thought about the idea that other people might also be interested in what they have to offer.
What Kinds of Ideas Are Worth Sharing?
So wherever you might fall, I do want to mention that there are some things that maybe you’ve done that would be worth sharing, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a book. I’ll talk a little bit about where you might share these ideas, but let’s talk about what kind of ideas are worth sharing.
Maybe it’s something new, maybe it’s a new way that you found to use PowerPoint that you found is really engaging to your participants. Maybe it’s a favorite feature in Articulate Storyline that you’ve used for a long time and you’ve realized suddenly that nobody else seems to be using it, and maybe they would benefit by knowing about it. Maybe it’s a sudden realization about how something in life, whether it’s parenting or maybe a shopping experience, is a perfect metaphor for a complex concept that you’ve been trying to teach people. Maybe it’s just something that is fascinating to you. Perhaps it’s a new activity that you created and realize that every time you use it, your participants are super engaged. Maybe you’ve been collecting data and realized that there are some trends in the right direction after you’ve launched a training program and a case study might be something that others would be able to draw transferable lessons from.
The fact is that while people have been writing and presenting about lots of topics in the world the training for a long time, we don’t necessarily need a new framework or a new model or a new theory in order to feel like we have something to share. Although if you do have a new framework or model or theory, please do share it. But sometimes what we really need is simply a fresh way to look at an old topic.
Where Can I Share My Ideas?
All right. So, where can you share it? There’s a couple of different avenues that I’ll talk about, and the first one might be to self-publish. And I’m not necessarily talking about a book, yet. Although maybe you have enough for a book, but maybe you’re just wanting to get started. And maybe you just want to capture an experience in a case study that can be used just internally. It can be shared in future training sessions. Maybe it’ll turn into fodder for an article or a presentation later down the road.
Blogs are a free way to start just sharing your thoughts through a platform like WordPress. You just sign up for the site, you have simple designs and templates that are easy to set up, and you just start typing away. Or you can even just post a blog post directly to a social networking site, like LinkedIn, where you don’t even have to set up a separate account for blogging, you just start typing your posts. But even when you’re doing something through a site like WordPress, one stroke of a key allows anyone with an internet connection to, in theory, find what you’ve shared. Of course, getting a following is a little bit more involved than just hitting publish.
Sharing your post on LinkedIn or Twitter can help you reach some more people. Even using more personal sites like Facebook or Instagram can get your friends and family starting to just to share word about, you know, some of the things that you might want to share. And then I know that one way even my parents get to know a little bit more about what I’ve been doing is when I share things on social media.
Podcasts are another way to get your thoughts and experiences out into the world. The path of least resistance might be to start your own podcast. You can try to find other people that do podcasts about your topic and see if you can pitch a reason why they might want to interview you. But if you wanted to start your own podcast, it is a path of least resistance. You can just kind of go ahead and record something and then edit it and hit publish. Obviously, podcasts are more than just recording. Like I mentioned, you’ll need to edit what you’ve done. You’ll need to map out what you want to say in order to keep your thoughts tight. But those are a couple of different ways to self-publish some of your thoughts and get those thoughts out there.
If you want to go to the next level, one way is to get published in something like an industry publication. They’re constantly on the lookout for fresh ideas. If you have something to share in the world of learning and development, for example, the editors at the Association for Talent Development’s monthly magazine, TD Magazine, are constantly on the lookout for fresh content, fresh ideas. If you reach out to an editor, you can pitch your idea with a specific angle of why you think you have a fresh perspective and how it might help other people. The fact is that it can be intimidating to think about getting published, but the editors at ATD’s TD Magazine are super nice and super willing to work with you.
Sometimes the editors they’re looking for full articles. Sometimes they’re looking for content for their blog. Sometimes they’re going to take a look at something you might submit and give you feedback and say, “You know what? I love this idea. Not necessarily what we’re looking for right now, but here’s some thoughts in terms of if you wanted to get published in the future.” This last thing, it may not feel good in the moment, but even that is part of the learning process. Even in those cases, I have found that I can learn something that makes me a better writer.
Another way to get your thoughts out there, if you don’t necessarily want to publish something, is to present at a conference. And so, industry conferences, like the industry publications, they’re constantly on the search for new perspectives or practices or ways to help people do things better. In the learning field, I’ve found that there are really three big groups that run a variety of conferences throughout the year. There are lots of other groups, lots of local chapters, lots of other organizations, but there’s really three big ones that I’ve found. And every one of these groups, they’re hungry for fresh perspectives and looking to support first-time speakers, especially, that can bring something new to the table.
I’ve mentioned ATD already, and they do have several conferences throughout the year – some are general, some focus more on technology. Don’t forget about even presenting at local chapter events as well. Local chapters of ATD have– a lot of them have annual conferences, all of them have monthly meetings where they’re looking for guest presenters. Training Magazine and The Learning Guild – they also run multiple conferences throughout the year, and they’re also looking to support first-time speakers. So, those are just a few different places where you might be able to present.
Know Something? Say Something!: A Summary
But I’m going to wrap this up right now just by saying: don’t think that because you’ve never shared some of your best work outside of your organization that nobody else would be interested in hearing what you have to offer. As I’ve mentioned, there’s a variety of ways to share your experiences and perspectives. Some avenues with low barriers to entry, like publishing a blog post or a podcast, getting published in an industry magazine or being selected to present at the conference. Those will take a little bit more time to put together a pitch or put together a proposal, and even then you may not be accepted on your first try. Like I said, even in those cases, you do have an opportunity to learn about what can make your proposals even stronger in the future.
Even though there are some risk that comes with putting yourself out there, it’s my experience that the rewards – things like forcing myself to think through and reflect on my own experiences, figuring out how to help other people learn something new or different or better, and I’m not going to lie, seeing my name in print is pretty cool too. Those rewards, for me, far outweigh the risks of running into some online troll with a jerky comment or the specter of not getting accepted for publication or to present. One of my favorite ground rules from a participant during a presentation years ago still sticks with me, and I think it’s applicable to this discussion. He said, “The only thing that’s missing from the field of learning and development is what I choose not to share.”
Thank you for listening to this episode. If you know someone else who might find today’s topic of sharing our talents with the rest of the world to be important, please do pass along a link to this podcast. If you want to make sure that you’re notified of a new podcast when it’s hot off the press, go ahead and subscribe on Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Even better would be if you were to take just a moment to give this podcast a review, it doesn’t take much of your time and it would mean a ton to me. If you’re interested in learning more about a broad range of learning and development strategies, you can pick up a copy of my book: What’s Your Formula? Combine Training Elements For Impactful Training at http://www.amazon.com. And until next time, happy training everyone.
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