No Stupid Questions

Training is expected to yield change. How does change make people feel? I don’t know that we can expect everyone to react consistently when they react to change, but there is a tendency for most of us to ask how changes affect our own lives when we are faced with them. Continue reading

How can your storytelling be more effective?

On Saturday, I attended a memorial service for my 101-year-old grandfather. The stories that my aunts and uncles and cousins shared were phenomenal. Storytelling is such a powerful means of communication, especially when you can picture what’s happening in the story.

But what happens when you aren’t quite as familiar with the subject matter or situation in the story?

In his book Brain Rules, John Medina writes: “Vision trumps all other senses… we learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.” So how do we add the sense of sight to our storytelling?   Continue reading

Interactive Lectures using Google Docs

Technology has come a long way since I was in college. When I attended class, I scribbled poorly written notes in my spiral notebook which I later compared with classmates in a study group while we crammed for tests. Study groups were vital for me to discover anything I missed and an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. It wasn’t that long ago, but times have changed. Continue reading

Presentations for Non-presenters

Who is a presenter?

I am an instructional designer and a facilitator, I am a presenter.

My sister is a director at a sustainable energy non-profit, she is a presenter.

My husband is a Civil Engineer for the department of transportation, he is a presenter.

The difference between my job and the other two I mentioned is Continue reading

Tactics to Deal with Glossophobia (Fear of Public Speaking)

Halloween may be one of my favorite holidays. Elaborate costumes and makeup are my forte, and scary movies are a must. In the spirit of Halloween, I would like to share a spooky short story. I call this story “Glossophobia”.

In a dark room, a faint blue light illuminates the face of a woman in her thirties. Her face is stark and pallid, and her hands tremble as she reads aloud the words on the computer screen.  She stands up, abandoning her laptop as she strains to calm her heart and paces around the room, talking to herself. She wrings out her hands, takes a deep breath, and returns to her computer. Looking at the screen, she reads the words again. Continue reading

“Mr. Lecturer, tear down this wall!”

Berlin Wall

When Communism ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall (yes, I know that the Soviet Union didn’t break up until 1991 and technically China still considers itself “Communist”, but really, everything seemed to end when the Wall fell), it seemed like the last great struggle left in the world was going to be the battle against bad, boring, wasteful learning experiences.

Of course, the Berlin Wall didn’t just come tumbling down one fall day in 1989. People may have wanted it to just go away, but it was a long process that included a series of events – some big, some small, and some so subtle they barely registered.

In our struggle against bad, boring, wasteful learning experiences, we’d do well to keep this in mind. Continue reading

PollEverywhere is great for audience interaction, but…

Last Tuesday I was invited to give a keynote speech and I resolved to make sure it would be memorable. Not memorable as in outrageous or as in a wardrobe malfunction, but rather memorable as in information people would want to remember so that they could apply it as soon as they returned home.

 

My talk was on presentation skills and the “stickiness factor”, and to make sure it would be relevant I spent considerable time talking with and emailing back and forth with the event organizer to learn about the audience.

She encouraged me to use PollEverywhere with her audience and I jumped at the chance. While engaging the audience by polling them and asking them to respond via SMS messaging is a great concept, there are a few things to keep in mind before taking this technology in front of a live audience.  Continue reading

I’m Starting To Think Conference Organizers Are Committing Malpractice If They Don’t Use This…

It was the first general session of the conference. 1pm. Just after lunch. The session was well-designed and engaging. The facilitator was dynamic and seemed to have the attention of all 250 attendees in the large ballroom. He started asking people in the crowd to shout out answers and he captured them on flipchart. This is what it looked like:

PollEverywhere Exhibit A

I was sitting in the second row when I snapped this picture. One problem was that I could barely read what was being captured. The other problem was that when the facilitator threw a question out to 250 people in the audience, only one or two brave souls dared to answer.

I’ve grown more convinced that conference organizers should be encouraging and offering PollEverywhere to any facilitator who wants to engage the audience. How can PollEverywhere transform the audience’s experience? Here are three ways:

1. The audience is going to use their cell phones during a session anyway, why not have them use their cell phones to engage with your presentation (as opposed to checking email or posting a snarky tweet with the hashtag #imsooooooooooooobored)?

2. It’s safer than shouting out an answer in front of everyone. PollEverywhere allows presenters to poll their audience with a set of multiple choice questions. It also allows presenters to ask open-ended questions.

3. The audience gets their thoughts displayed “in lights.” Every audience member has an opportunity to take part in creating content during the session if they’re given an opportunity to answer a question and have their answer displayed on a projection screen.

Know someone who has a conference presentation coming up? Pass this along!

Want more tips on presentation skills? Follow me on Twitter!

Too much interaction, not enough lecture? Impossible! Or is it?

 

A little introduction to the topic. Here are a few discussion prompts. Break into small groups with table facilitators to guide the conversation. Large group de-brief. No bullet-pointed PowerPoint slides. Heck, no slides at all! This is a textbook example of well-designed training built upon a strong foundation of adult learning, right?

Not so fast.

Earlier this week I had an opportunity to attend a 60-minute session on the topic of measuring training impact. Training that has a measurable impact – it’s the holy grail of the learning and development profession, right? Sign me up. In fact, sign my colleagues up too! I dragged a colleague to this workshop as well. We need to learn as much as we can on this topic because we certainly haven’t found a consistent way to crack this nut.

During the session, a facilitator framed the topic then turned us loose in small groups to discuss the topic. In my own small group, I felt I was able to offer brilliant insights into the challenges we face when trying to isolate training as a reason for improved business results. I took a look around the room and everyone was engaged. The room was abuzz.

Toward the end, each small group reported their insights. Time expired, a little end-of-session networking took place, and then we all headed our own separate ways. It was fun.

Later, I reached out to my colleague who attended and asked about her takeaways. She said: “I don’t know that I took away any new/better way to measure training. How about you?”

The truth was, I didn’t have any concrete takeaways either. I was kind of hoping my colleague was going to mention something that I somehow missed.

Last week, during a #chat2lrn Twitter chat, Patti Shank took a lot of flak (including from me) when she wrote this:

When I reflected on the training experience I had this week, Patti’s words suddenly resonated with me. This training was ultra-engaging. And yet my colleague and I left without being able to do something new or differently or better.

Try our list of instructor-led training activities that are both engaging and effective.

Perhaps there should have been a more vigorous de-brief. Perhaps there should have been more instructor-led content, maybe even <gasp> lecture – either before or after the small group discussions.

I may not have new ways to measure the impact of my training initiatives, but I did carry three concrete takeaways from this experience:

  1. Sometimes, lecture isn’t completely evil.
  2. Sometimes, too many discussion-based activities can be counter-productive.
  3. Reflection is an essential habit following a learning experience. Even when concrete takeaways from the topic at hand prove to be elusive, learning can still happen.

And you? What kinds of things have you learned unexpectedly even though the actual topic at hand of a training session didn’t quite deliver for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.