STOP! Before you open up PowerPoint, read this…

PowerPoint can be a phenomenal tool to help with your next presentation. In addition to the conventional bullet pointed slides that are standard issue fare in most meetings and conferences, you can also do some cool things like create a Jeopardy board or play Family Feud through the magic of PowerPoint.

Opening PowerPoint before you’ve mapped out what you plan to do or say in your next presentation and expecting that your audience will be engaged, however, is a bit like taking out a pan and tossing a bunch of things in, expecting to have some tasty brownies come out of the oven. You may luck out on the quantities of ingredients and the amount of time it will take to bake… but chances are your audience will smile politely to your face and then spit out whatever you tried to force-feed them into their napkins when your back is turned.

Last week, several colleagues attended ATD’s TechKnowledge conference and I was surprised to hear how many presentations failed to meet expectations. Following is an exchange I had via text message with a co-worker:

ATDTK

Curious as to whether others felt this way, I took to Twitter to ask for some thoughts. This was a segment of a conversation I had with another attendee:

To be fair, I heard some very good things about a number of presentations. Unfortunately, there seem to be too many presentations that aren’t up to snuff – whether at large conferences like TechKnowledge, or in smaller, more intimate settings like an in-house training program or a staff meeting. This is unfortunate because any time a presenter gets in front of an audience, he or she has the opportunity to change the world by helping the audience do something new or differently or better. You don’t need to be a high-paid keynote speaker in order to change the world!

There are many reasons that a presentation can flop. One of the most common is when a presenter just doesn’t take the time to be intentional about the way he or she designs a presentation. Too often the default mode for presentation planning is to open PowerPoint and begin to fill in slides.

Over 17 years of designing presentations, I’ve found the most effective, engaging presenters map out what they want to say, how long they want to say it, and specific methods of how they plan to engage their audience – in discussion, in brainstorming, in demonstrations or role plays or individual work – and then they decide what kind of visual aids they’ll use. At this point, I’ve seen many presenters decide creating a PowerPoint deck isn’t even necessary.

If you’re looking for a way to be more intentional about how you map out your next presentation, click here to download a presentation planning template that I’ve found to be very helpful in organizing my thoughts before a presentation.

Presentation Planner 2015

Know someone who might benefit from a presentation plan? Go ahead and pass this article along to them.


Looking For Beta Testers

Organizing your thoughts with a Word document is a good start. I’m envisioning a world in which we can leverage technology in order to organize our thoughts better and eventually rid this world of the scourge of poorly designed and delivered presentations for once and for all.

Want to help? I’m looking for a small group of beta testers for an online presentation planning tool. If you’re interested, please email me at brian@endurancelearning.com. Your feedback could go a long way toward advancing the vision that every presentation will be engaging and lead to change.

 

Welcome TD Readers!

Earlier this month, Train Like A Champion was spotlighted in this article by the Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) TD magazine, which has brought some fresh new eyes to this blog.

This seems like a great opportunity to welcome new readers and to thank my seasoned, experienced readers for sticking with me. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on topics and articles through the comment section.

Like something you read? Pass it along.

Don’t quite agree with something I write? Let’s duke it out in the comment section.

Following are ten posts from the past year that capture the essence of this blog. If you’re new to Train Like A Champion, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles. If you’ve been here for a while, perhaps there’s an article or two from this list that was so good that you just have to read it again.

On Monday, January 19, I’ll be back with an article focused on lesson planning for training presentations. If you’re feeling in a particularly helpful mood, I’ll also be asking for some beta testers for an online presentation planning tool that, once it’s out in the public, just might change the way presentations are delivered and holds the potential to eradicate the scourge of boring presentations from the face of this planet.

A New Tool to Help You Decide how to Spend Professional Development Dollars

Budget season has descended upon my organization. While we try frantically to meet the deadlines set forth by the finance department, we’re also trying to pay for as many 2015 expenses as possible by spending 2014 funds prior to December 31.

If you happen to be in the same boat, I spent some time this weekend inventing a cool new tool (at least I think it’s cool) to help you decide how to spend some of your “leftover” 2014 funds.

I’m assuming most readers of the Train Like A Champion blog are in the training or human resources field, which explains the limited nature of this tool. If you have 3 minutes, go ahead and check it out. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Cover Page

Click here to launch the “How-to-Spend-Your-Professional-Development-Dollars” wizard.

If you know of someone in the training or human resources fields who might need to spend down their professional development dollars by the end of this year, please pass this along to them!

Learning and Development Lessons from Brazil’s World Cup Team

The World Cup is upon us. In Brazil, a country that’s won the tournament more than anyone else (5 times), there’s a debate on whether they should continue playing “beautiful” soccer, or if they should be playing more to win. I wonder if we should be having the same debate in the learning and development field.

Soccer Ball

In the learning and development space, “beautiful” is the equivalent of engaging, fun, entertaining, sound lesson plan design. “Winning” could be synonymous with behavior change.

There are a lot of courses and conferences and books devoted to effective training design and engaging presentation styles and gamification of elearning. ASTD (ATD) specializes in these types of events and publications. I’ve read a number of books and attended several of their conferences. I even presented at an ASTD conference. Yet, I wonder how much behavior change comes from all of this.

In 2010, McKinsey published an article stating that $100 billion was spent annually on learning initiatives yet only one quarter of those initiatives yielded any type of measurably improved business performance.

I wonder if L&D professionals should continue to look to organizations like ASTD. When I read CLO’s recent listing of 2014 LearningElite organizations, I began to wonder if we should be looking more toward organizations that don’t necessarily talk about talent development and improved business results, but rather produce such results year after year. While I know many L&D-focused organizations are on the small side and ASTD’s BEST and CLO’s LearningElite seem biased toward larger organizations, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a single organization devoted exclusively to L&D on one of these lists.

Just as this ESPN article points out that there are some in Brazil who don’t feel that the “beautiful game/playing to win” is an either/or argument, perhaps it’s not an either/or argument in the L&D space either. Or is it?

On which side do you fall in this argument? Let’s hear it in the comment section below.

And of course: Go Yanks, beat the Black Stars!

“ATD” is a pretty lame acronym: 20 alternatives that could have been considered

Last week, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) made a big announcement. It was changing its name. To ATD.

In world where we’re drowning in an alphabet soup of acronyms, ATD certainly doesn’t stand out. I spent some time thinking about how lame ATD is as an acronym. But simply sitting in my own little corner of the world, pondering the lameness of a new acronym doesn’t do anyone any good.

In fact, sitting here thinking about a lame acronym is, well, pretty lame of me. It reminds me of this classic movie clip from the movie Roxanne:

So, I’m going to channel Steve Martin and come up with 20 somethings better.

  1. For the lazy: Society for the Improvement of Talent (SIT)
  2. For the kinesthetic learners: Society for Talent and New skill Development (STAND)
  3. For those who think we should have simply embraced the old, unfortunate acronym: Your Employee Performance and Improvement Helpline And Value and Engagement Networked Society for Training and Development (YEP-I-HAVE-AN-STD)
  4. For the hardcore, no-pain-no-gain set: People Achievement and Improvement Network (PAIN)
  5. For the true believers in what we do: Institute for Making People Really Outstanding in their Vocations and Extracurriculars (IMPROVE)
  6. For the edgy: Association for Workplace Systems and Human Improvement and Transformation (AW-SHIT)
  7. For the instructional designers: Association for Disruptive Development In Employees (ADDIE)
  8. For the instructional designers who reject ADDIE: Society for Achievement and Mega-learning (SAM)
  9. For those who believe what we do is pure magic: Talent And Development Association (TA-DA!)
  10. For those who just want to chill: Society for People Achievement (SPA)
  11. For those who chew tobacco: Society for Professional Improvement and Talen (SPIT)
  12. For the cool crowd: Society for Knowledge, Instruction, Learning, Leadership and Zippiness (SKILLZ)
  13. For anyone like me: Association Where Everyone Stands Out More Everyday (AWESOME)
  14. For those who want to optimize their search engine results: Performance Optimization Resource Network (PORN)
  15. For those who like gyros: Performance Improvement and Training Association (PITA)
  16. For Bridgette Jones: Membership of Responsible Development And Resource Community Yammerers (MR DARCY)
  17. For the braggarts: Distinguished Association for Members New, Intermediate and Mature in Growing Opportunities for Optimizing Development (DAMN-I’M-GOOD)
  18. For Empire Strikes Back Fans: Association for Talent And Training (AT-AT)
  19. For those who want an asterisk next to their name in the record books: Performance Enhancing Development Society (PEDs)
  20. For the humanitarians: People for the Ethical Treatment of our Audience (PETA)

My point being that in a world in which talent and performance development requires innovation and creativity, and in which the name and identity of an organization goes a long way in defining its culture and values, ATD seems to have missed the mark.

Your turn: if the ASTD re-naming rights were in your hands, what’s the best acronym you could have come up with? Share your thoughts in the comments section.