We need time to stare blankly at our screens.

Do you ever have one of those really annoying days? You know the kind – the days where you have a meeting, then you have 15 minutes before your next meeting, then 20 minutes before another meeting. What are we supposed to do with those little pockets of time in between meetings?

Sometimes I’ll take those 15 or 20 minutes between meetings and I’ll browse TED.com to see if there’s a TED Talk that might offer me some inspiration or insight. Earlier this week I found one entitled: How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas (by Manoush Zomorodi).

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Can’t find that perfect training idea for next week’s session? Sleep on it.

When there’s a deadline looming and you haven’t quite found the right creative solution for an upcoming training program, it’s tempting to keep pushing late into the day, even into the night, until a good idea finds you.

According to an article I recently read in a Time magazine special edition focused on the science of creativity, pushing through and sacrificing sleep may not yield the result you’re hoping for.  Continue reading

Charts and graphs in PowerPoint: There’s got to be a better way!

I’ve been reading Nancy Duarte’s slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations and these sentences resonated with me: “Often ideas come immediately. That’s good, but avoid the potential pitfall of going with the first thing that comes to mind.”

As we prepare for presentations, how often do we open up PowerPoint and then either dump information into some sort of SmartArt graphic or create a bar graph (or a circle graph or a line graph) using the Insert>Chart function?

Creative Charts

Do either of these data presentation formats look familiar?

Since it’s what we’ve done so many times before, it’s often the first thing that comes to mind. But what if we didn’t settle for that first thing that comes to mind? What could we create? Could we make our point better for our audience?   Continue reading

Gone Fishin’

Ok, maybe I haven’t gone fishing. But as you read this, I’m somewhere in the air over the Atlantic or Europe or Afghanistan en route to Delhi and I haven’t had time to generate a lot of my own original content.

Today, I’ll point you in the direction of some of my favorite video resources that have inspired me over the past several years.

Phil Waknell: The Secrets of a Great Talk

I love this one for two reasons:

1) He makes the point that your audience isn’t going to master your content in 15 minutes, so don’t try to get them to master it.

2) He uses props to engage his audience with a hands-on activity, even though he’s speaking to an auditorium full of people.

David JP Phillips: How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint

This one comes from TEDxStockholm and David offers 5 tips on how to simplify your slides. I appreciate this one because he de-constructs a poorly designed, overcrowded slide and re-works it over the course of 20 minutes.

Jane McGonigal: The Game that can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life

Jane McGonigal has several excellent TED Talks, but I wanted to highlight this one simply because of the title. Watch to see how she keeps an audience on pins and needles for 20 minutes by making them a promise (a longer life!), giving them a mathematical formula for how this promise can come true, and then she slowly unfolds her story arc. Give it a view… unless you want to die sooner.

Leadership Lessons from a Dancing Guy

I learned about this video from a colleague. It’s a short, 3-minute illustration of leadership in action and how a movement can get started and it uses a very unlikely source: a shirtless, dancing guy at a concert.

How about you? Are there any videos that you’ve found particularly thought-provoking or creativity-inspiring? Let’s hear about them in the comments section.

 

4 Ways Learning Was Made More Exciting and Engaging This Week

Over the next two weeks, my team will deliver approximately 59 presentations. Instead of just churning out boring presentation after boring presentation, my colleagues have come up with some creative ways to keep their learners engaged. Here are four highlights that have emerged from our preparations.

Pop Quiz!

One colleague has been asked to give a series of lectures. Yes, lectures. Those are the cards we’ve been dealt: a series of lectures. His sessions will be in a lecture hall. The agenda says: “Lectures”. So he has to lecture. But it doesn’t mean he has to drone on and bore the audience.

While he won’t have an opportunity to break the audience into small groups or to have them engage in discussion, he has decided to conduct a pop quiz. As he begins his presentation, he’ll be asking the audience to jot down their answers to a series of questions. As his presentation unfolds, they’ll have to remain tuned into his lecture in order to find out if they were right or wrong.

Not Just Fun and Games

Most of our upcoming meetings are not dedicated lectures. When it comes including game elements into the instructional design, there are two presentations that fall into this category.

Mission Possible

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One colleague will be attempting to re-energize the audience when it comes to using our Learning Management System (LMS). In an effort to encourage meeting participants to discover the library of resources available through the LMS, this colleague has created a short elearning program challenging participants to collect pieces of a road map. In small groups, participants will work their way through this mission, sampling LMS-based courses in the process.

An Alternative to the Same Old “Action Plan” Activity

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Action planning is an essential element for trainers attempting to make sure that the learning goes beyond the training room and makes its way back to the office. Instead of giving participants 5 or 10 minutes at the end of the workshop to fill out an action plan form, I’ve designed a board game that forces participants to think about how my content can be used in their own situations in order to advance toward the finish line. Who wouldn’t want to play a game in which they can compete against other participants (and themselves), they have to work together to complete a quest and, while they’re at it, they jot down reflections on how the content can be applied back home?

The Crystal Ball

Each year, our organization spends some time announcing our plans and new initiatives for the upcoming twelve months, to our meeting attendees. This year, two colleagues reached deep into the right hemispheres of their brains and came up with an idea that meets the excitement and intrigue and mystery of how to announce new initiatives and projects: they will ask a co-worker to dress up as a fortune teller and ask meeting attendees to draw “tarrot cards” to reveal each new initiative. Props. Costumes. Silliness. Informative. And attention-grabbing.

If any of these have elements that seem like they would make your own presentations more interesting, please steal them.

If you know someone who might be able to derive some inspiration from these ideas, pass this link along.

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