3 Training Lessons from a Japanese Shower

If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel, you’ve probably grappled with the learning curve that comes with figuring out how to use the shower. I travel a fair amount and every hotel chain and every shower experience is different.

Sometimes the shower system is similar to the one I have at home, so I can quickly figure it out with one turn of the knob. More often than not, I need to turn two different knobs in order to find the right balance between hot and cold water. Then I need to push a button or find another level to re-direct the water from the bath faucet to the shower head.

On a recent trip to Tokyo, I came across this shower set up.

Japanese shower

It was so easy: just set the water to the temperature I needed and turn the knob imprinted with the image of a shower head.

No room for confusion. No wasted time or effort. Very clear.

Here are a few ways that presentations and training sessions should be more like this Japanese shower:

1)      No words, powerful imagery. I didn’t need a series of bullet points to explain how to use this shower. It was clear at a glance. Can we say the same thing about the slides or other visual aids we use in our presentations?

2)      Clear metrics. I didn’t have to guess how far I needed to turn the temperature lever in order to get the perfect temperature; this lever was clearly marked. When it comes to indicators of success for our training programs, have we removed all the guesswork for our participants? Or are they left to fend for themselves when it comes to learning outcomes and how they can use our brilliant information?

3)      Choice (with fair warning). It’s nice to have the option of a shower or bath, but I absolutely hate getting into a hotel shower in the morning, twisting a knob expecting water to flow out of the bath faucet only to be jolted awake by freezing cold spray jetting out of the shower head. This Japanese hotel shower offered the choice of shower vs. bath and clearly marked which knob or lever to use for each. When we give choices to our audience during a presentation (“Who would like to volunteer…” for example), have we given fair warning for what they’re getting themselves into? Or are we doing the equivalent of daring them to turn an unmarked lever that might just spray them with ice cold water, an experience which could sour their outlook on the rest of their day?

Are there any other lessons you think trainers and presenters should take away from this image? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

6 Innovative Ideas Every Presenter Can Learn From A Cup Of Noodles

On a wet, stormy day in Yokohama, Japan, I ducked into a building for cover. It happened to be the Cup Noodles Museum. Yes, there is an entire museum for the Cup of Noodles.

And surprisingly, there were some essential lessons for anyone who does presentations.

The museum focuses on Momofuku Ando, who first invented the instant chicken ramen noodle meal in 1958. At the age of 95, he was still innovating and designed Space Ramen – an instant treat for astronauts to enjoy as they hurl through space. (Click here to read more about this amazing man.)

Innovation is an essential ingredient for any presenter who wants to keep his or her audience engaged. Momofuku Ando’s creative thinking process revolved around the following six key concepts, all of which should capture the imagination of every person who might need to present something to some audience someday.

  1. Discover Something Completely New: Seek things that the world has never seen but would be nice to have. How many times have you sat through the same presentation format? A slide deck. Some information. Some Q&A toward the end. To capture an audience’s attention and to light their imagination on fire, begin by finding something new.
  2. Find Hints in All Sorts of Places: There are inspirations that spark new idea all around you just waiting to be found. Have a family? What inspiration can your children give you? Been outside lately? Maybe there’ll be inspiration in a funny shaped rock or a group of people you pass by on the street or that dude who cut you off on your way to the office yesterday. Pick your head up. Look around. Get inspired. Then use it to inspire others.
  3. Nurture the Idea: An invention isn’t for just one person; have everyone use it. It’s pretty selfish to have an amazing idea and then to let other things get in the way of being able to effectively communicate your idea to others. Take the time you need in order to find a way to get others as passionate about your topic as you are. (And just talking about your topic will not get others as passionate.)
  4. Look at Things from Every Angle: Investigate every perspective. Telling yourself: “my topic is boring” is a cop out. There are a million ways to present on any given topic. And some of those ways are even fun and exciting and amazing. Find the way that works for you… even if you have to keep looking for a while until you discover it.
  5. Don’t Just Go with the Status Quo: Think beyond what you think is usual. Just because there are so many poor presentations out there, doesn’t mean your need to limit yourself to what everyone else does. Honestly, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?
  6. Never Give Up: Even if you fail the first time and the second time, keep on trying. Trying something new is uncomfortable. Forgoing PowerPoint slides in a presentation may push you out of your comfort zone. Opening a presentation by suggesting everyone in the room turn to the person next to them to discuss a topic before you launch into your brilliant discourse from the podium may push everyone out of their comfort zones. And some of these things may… hmmm, let me re-phrase that: many of these things will fail. Miserably. Of course, if we abandoned a new way of doing things at the first hint of failure, we might not have light bulbs, we might not have iPods (or iPads or iMacs), and we’d all still be wearing diapers since potty training never, ever works well the first time.

Without innovation, we get the same, boring presentation. And very little is learned by an audience sitting through the same, boring presentation.

You Down With O.P.P.? (Clean Version)

Yeah, you know me!

“O” is for “other”. “P” is for “people’s” work and preparation. The last “P”, well, that’s not that simple. It’s sorta like another way to call a map a script. There’s four little letters that I’m missing here. You get it on occasion, if the other party is a missin’. It seems I gotta start to explainin’…

Actually, that’s about as far as I dare take my little riff off of Naughty by Nature’s O.P.P.

“O.P.P.” in this context stands for Other People’s Plans, more specifically their presentation plans.

Over the past five weeks, I’ve been involved in planning and helping to deliver over 50 presentations. And other people’s presentation plans played a huge role in the success of these meetings.

Super_Lesson_Plan

The Show Must Go On

As a conference in Saudi Arabia was about to begin, I received word that heavy fog in Dubai would prevent several of my colleagues from arriving on time. I would need to facilitate their sessions for them.

Unfortunately for me, I was not an expert in their subject matter. Had I only been given their slides to work from, I would have completely embarrassed myself (and our organization) trying to present unfamiliar material in front of a room of knowledgeable participants. Fortunately, my fogged-in colleagues had completed detailed lesson plans and I was able to present with confidence and without missing a beat.

Click here to download a pdf copy of the blank template that they used.

What Would You Do?

Take a look at the following slide deck from a presentation I gave in December. Would you be able to fill in for me if I was stuck in traffic and I needed someone else to step up and present?

 

Would it make a difference if you had that slide deck and the following presentation plan (click here to download a pdf copy)?

Page 1 of 3 (Lesson Plan)  Page 2 of 3 (Lesson Plan)  Page_3_of_3_(Lesson_Plan)

Benefits of a Presentation Plan

Yes, investing some time and energy in creating a presentation plan before opening up PowerPoint and putting some slides together will make the planning process longer. But here are five reasons why using this format will be good for your next presentation:

  1. Emergencies happen. If someone needs to fill in at the last minute, it’s helpful for the substitute presenter to know exactly what to say, how to say it, and how long to say it for.
  2. Total Recall. It will serve as a good reminder if you have to give the same presentation a year from now and need some help recalling key points.
  3. Focus. It provides a systematic way to gather your thoughts on the specific objectives that need to be accomplished during your presentation.
  4. Keep it tight. It helps keep your presentation on track by defining exactly how much time you should spend talking about any specific point.
  5. Who needs PPT?! Once your presentation is mapped out, you may realize that you don’t even need to put a slide deck together because there’s a better way to present your information!

Know someone you could use some help in organizing their thoughts around their next presentation? Pass this link along.

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Instructional Design Lessons from the Tokyo Airport

In a frantic effort to spend a few last yen before boarding my flight from Tokyo to Seattle, this display outside of an airport toy store caught my eye.

Airport - Bear

I stopped to take a closer look. I wondered what would happen if I talked with it. My wife, throwing caution to the wind, stooped down and said: “konnichiwa!”

The bear immediately repeated: “KONNICHIWA!” and started moving around. Passersby laughed. A few other people came by and tried talking with the bear, too. It was surprising. And fun.

A few minutes later I came across this display.

Airport - Ball

I picked it up and threw it in the air. The ball changed shape in the air, then re-formed into ball shape as it descended. Several other children saw what happened and came over and began to play with these toys. I had to wrestle the toys away from the children and chase them away from the display for a moment so I could get a photo for this blog.

Fun and Surprising

Can you imagine walking past a shop in the airport and seeing something more like this?

Airport - PPT

It’s not fun. It’s not surprising. It’s quite a turn off, actually. Have you guessed where I’m going with this by now?

Yes, I’m comparing toy store marketing displays with presentation skills. As presenters, why can’t we create learning experiences that are fun and surprising and pique our audience’s interest and entice them to want to try out a new skill or a new tool?

The next time you have to train someone on Salesforce or some other software, why not invite them to play with the program and discover how intuitive it can be before you throw PowerPoint slides at them?

The next time you present on… well, anything… why not allow the audience to play with the content or tool or policy or procedure or product or concept or little toy bear or shape-shifting ball? Let the audience decide for themselves what the benefit is before you tell them what they should think.

What was the lesson I took from a string of toy stores in Narita Airport? Presentations need more intrigue and fun and surprises.

3 Ways (and 1 Tool) to Engage Your Staff in Your Next Team Meeting

Last week a colleague asked for help organizing her thoughts for an upcoming team meeting. She had prepared a set of PowerPoint slides and was preparing to distribute a hard copy of some job duties that she wanted to review with her team… for the third time.

As we honed in on the specific problem she wanted to address, I asked how comfortable she’d be in changing her presentation tactic. Instead of talking at her team (for the third time), what if she laid out the problem and then asked for their input in solving it?

She gave it a whirl. Afterward, she said her team was engaged for the entire meeting and they offered more suggestions and solutions than she could shake a stick at.

Shortly after this experience I came across this image, lifted from a highly entertaining article on the importance of presentations as a performance vs. a conversation.

HugSpeak - Some speeches

It got me wondering: why do we, as managers, so often feel that we need to come up with all the answers for our teams?

Following are three suggestions (and a tool) to engage meeting attendees more effectively:

When appropriate, send information in advance and insist attendees come prepared.

I recognize that there are times when news needs to be broken to everyone at the same time, in person. In my experience, that’s generally the exception, not the rule. If there’s something new to be shared with the team – a new development or a new policy, for example – then send it out in advance. And request that everyone come to the meeting prepared to discuss how the new development or policy will impact them.

Make them do the work.

In the example I shared (above), my colleague decided to abandon her lecture-style review of an existing policy. She admitted it would have put her team to sleep. Instead, she chose to challenge the team to list as many responsibilities as they could think of that they needed to fulfill in accordance with this policy. It kept her team awake, on their toes, and it allowed her to see what they remembered and where possible gaps existed between the policy and their day-to-day practices.

Let them come up with solutions.

Too many managers (myself included) feel that they need to come up with solutions to every problem – big or small. In the example I shared, my colleague abandoned her plan to tell her team how the problem was going to be solved. Instead she solicited solutions from her team. My colleague no longer had to stress over whether a solution she came up with would meet the needs of her staff, and because her staff came up with the solutions, they had a stake in owning and carrying out these solutions.

A word of caution: engaging people takes time, effort and preparation

Taking a risk by creating a more engaging team meeting can yield fantastic results that include:

  • More energy during team meetings,
  • Better use of everyone’s time,
  • More ideas from more people,
  • More innovative solutions, and
  • Shared ownership of problems and solutions.

You won’t find success, however, by merely wanting to engage people. Engaging your team or audience in a meeting requires advanced planning and meticulous preparation.

You need to map out exactly how much time you’d like to spend introducing a topic, facilitating a discussion, and discussing next steps. You need to make sure you’ve defined exactly what results you want to see. Without planning, you could suddenly find that you spent too much time setting up a problem and you’ve run out of time for discussion. Or perhaps you’ll find you’ve spent too much time brainstorming and not enough time refining ideas or clearly articulating next steps.

If you’re looking to plan a meeting that engages your audience, here is a link to a presentation planning template that could help you keep your next meeting organized.

Have you found a strategy to better engage people in your meetings? Please share in the comments section.

Know someone who could use some help engaging people in their meetings? Pass this link along.

Six More Training Icebreaker Questions That Begin With “Would You Rather…?”

Would you rather?

An effective icebreaker accomplishes three things:

  1. Attendees are introduced to one another
  2. The energy in the room picks up
  3. Attendees begin to think about the session’s topic (preferably in a fun, light-hearted way)

A quick game of “Would you rather…” can help break the ice at your next meeting or presentation by challenging participants to think about a pair of seemingly absurd choices, and then justify why they chose a particular option. It can shed some light on the mindset of each participant and can lead to a lot of laughter in the process.

Plus, who doesn’t like to have the sweet sound of laughter coming from their meeting room?

Previously I shared ten potential “Would you rather…” icebreaker questions. Here are six more:

Would you rather…

  1. …be scheduled to deliver a 90 minute presentation at 1:00pm (immediately after lunch) OR at 5:30pm (when everyone wants to go home)?
  2. …be able to shoot actual lasers out of your laser pointer OR have to dodge actual bullets every time a bullet point appears on a PowerPoint slide?
  3. …have a face that is a functioning clock OR have hair made entirely out of neon pink post-it notes?
  4. …be chased around the room by a giant, radioactive LCD projector as you try to set up for your presentation OR actually be married to Mr. Sketch?
  5. …only be able to respond to people and situations with the first thought that pops into your head OR only be able to speak in the form of a question during your presentation?
  6. …realize (much too late) that your suitcase was switched with Lady Gaga’s and all you have to wear for your keynote speech is a suit made out of raw meat OR wake up to discover the only way you can get from point A to point B is by moonwalking?

Do you have additional “Would you rather…?” type icebreaker questions? Let’s see ‘em in the comments section.

Lessons in Presentation Skills from Hiroshima

Atomic Bomb Dome

Last week I had an opportunity to spend a day in Hiroshima, where I had an opportunity to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. As I reflected on how the museum curators put together such a moving and powerful experience, it made me wonder what transferable lessons there could be for anyone who wants to make a presentation designed to move their audience to action.

It began with the brain

Entering the museum, we had an opportunity to learn about the history of Hiroshima. It was interesting. And awful. But I already knew much of this history (at least the World War II stuff). If the museum had stopped here, I don’t know that I would have been as moved or reflective when I walked back onto the street.

But it didn’t stop here. Physically, we had to walk through a long cat walk in order to enter the “main building.”

It tapped into the heart

Once we arrived in the main building, we entered a completely different atmosphere. I’m not sure I’d ever been in a museum that was as crowded yet as quiet as this. Stories of survivors. Tattered and burned clothes of children who did not survive. Exhibits and images that showed the effects of radiation on the body.

This was no longer some awful yet abstract moment in the history of the world. It was real. It was powerful. It made me think of one of my father’s favorite sayings: “there but for the grace of God go I.” Even as visitors, we could imagine what it was like to be in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

A call to action

Before we left the museum, there was an opportunity to sign a petition for a worldwide convention on nuclear weapons. I observed many people signing their names.

An opportunity to reflect

Outside of the Peace Museum is a large park with greenery, an eternal flame, several monuments and the Atomic Bomb Dome (pictured above, it was one of the only structures remaining once The Bomb exploded). After going through such a powerful experience, I was grateful for the time and space I had to reflect on what I had just seen and learned.

A lesson in presentation skills

Anyone who has read Switch by Chip and Dan Heath will recognize the first three elements from above: addressing the rational side of things, speaking to the heart and “shaping the path” (the call to action). These are the Heath brothers’ three essential elements of change management. The Peace Museum in Hiroshima was exhibit A of how these three elements can combine to create a powerful and moving experience.

Having time and space to reflect and being able to process the experience by talking with my wife enabled me to more fully absorb what I had seen and learned. She talked about things she saw that I must have missed. She talked about things going through her mind that I hadn’t thought about.

The thing I find most boring about a lot of museums is the same thing I find most boring about so many presentations and training sessions and new hire orientation modules: they only speak to the rational side of a topic. By tapping into the emotional side as well as the rational side and having time and space to reflect, the Peace Museum was an experience that will stick with me for a long, long time. If only we could say the same about all the presentations and training sessions and new hire orientation modules we have to sit through.

The next time you get in front of an audience, what will you do in order to tap into both the rational and emotional side of your audience? Will you allow them time and space to reflect on and process what you’ve presented?

In Order for Corporate Training to Improve, L&D Practitioners Need to Lose their Snobbery

On a scale from 1-10, how much do you love to be informed that you’re doing something wrong by a cocky, snide, snarky, arrogant know-it-all?

Training Snobbery 1

There is so much work to be done when it comes to helping our colleagues and clients to improve their presentation skills. Over the past 15 years as I’ve worked in the learning and development space, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that we need to meet people where they’re at.

Some people will be ready to jump right in, assessing the needs of their learners, organizing their thoughts with a presentation plan, then selecting the most appropriate visual aids (maybe PowerPoint, maybe something else), practicing their delivery and finally executing an amazing learning experience.

Some decision-makers will identify technology as the best solution to deliver differentiated, on-demand learning experiences.

Most people will need to be eased into this process. Here is a reflection that was written last year by one of my colleagues who truly evolved from SME to engaging presenter.

I’m not a heavy Twitter user, but I do follow several of the “big names” in the learning and development field. It always makes me uncomfortable when I read a tweet like this:

Training Snobbery

Why do we need to be snarky when it comes to trying to describe the motivations and mind-set of non-learning and development professionals? This particular message was tweeted during a recent elearning industry conference. The problem is that the question (why do people want classroom training?) was being asked to a room of learning and development professionals whose livelihoods revolve around technology and elearning.

If we want a non-snarky, sincere answer and true insights into the mindset of the people who actually approve and schedule classroom-based training, then we shouldn’t be asking ourselves why people might want classroom training. We need to spend time asking and understanding line managers, HR professionals and executives who request training sessions.

What are you doing to get a better understanding of the mindset of SMEs and others who deliver presentations and training in order to truly help them succeed? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

This training could save you from a $1.875 million lawsuit!

Would you like to be on the losing end of a lawsuit that cost your employer $1.875 million because you were too buddy-buddy with your hourly, non-exempt staff?

Personally, I would not like to be the cause for a multi-million dollar court award against my employer. And I would hang on every last word a trainer says in order to prevent being put in a position to lose a court decision like that.

Last week I had an opportunity to attend a manager training which was led by an employment attorney. By the end of the three-hour training, she had clicked through 152 slides and somehow she covered FIVE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SEVEN BULLET POINTS during this session. She was efficient with the pace by which she blitzed through her material. Mind-numbingly boring… but efficient.

Yet for some reason she didn’t attempt to open our eyes to the real-world, real-money consequences of our actions as managers until she was two hours (and 148 slides) into her presentation.

Everything Wrong with Corporate Training

This 3-hour session represents everything that’s wrong with corporate training:

  • 17 managers invest a combined 51 work hours of their time in attending this session.
  • The outside expert (in this case an employment attorney) is given a pre-packaged, non-customized slide deck to run through.
  • She adds a few stories from the trenches to illustrate her points (537 bullet points to be exact) and she encourages people to ask questions so that the training can be “interactive”.
  • And people walk away entertained by the stories, thinking the presenter was good and nobody will ever know whether any of the 17 managers in attendance can do things better or differently as a result of the 51 combined hours they invested in this session.

The managers were never asked to demonstrate proficiency in a single skill that could avoid a $1.875 million lawsuit. The managers weren’t given an opportunity to test their skills at identifying what unintentional discrimination in the workplace might look like. The managers were never challenged to describe what “appropriate documentation” might include.

Fixing Corporate Training Isn’t Really That Hard

Following the training, I was speaking with another manager who had attended the session and he said how surprised he was that the speaker didn’t even ask us whether we did certain things during recruitment, interview or regular supervision activities that might get us into legal trouble.

Just ask a question

One of the simplest ways for a presenter to customize a session, even if it’s on the fly and in the moment, is to ask questions of the audience. Give us a pop quiz. Or just ask to see a show of hands and start a sentence with: “How many of you…”

Discuss a brief case study

I’m sure that employment attorneys have seen many, many cases that involve “grey areas” – actions in which one side could claim discrimination and the other side could claim that they were treating each employee fairly and equitably. Another simple way to engage the group and check to see if they’re “getting it” is to show a few case studies and ask the managers what they would do in certain situations.

Show a video

Similar to the case study idea, simply showing the group a video or two and asking what the managers identify as appropriate or inappropriate management strategies is yet another way to see if the group is “getting it.”

Mock Trial

Finally, if you really want to scare the heck out of the managers (and the executive staff), or perhaps better said, if you really want everyone in the organization to take this topic seriously, it would be fun to present the managers with some information and then ask them to demonstrate how they’d handle the scenario. Once they complete their demonstration, the attorney/facilitator could either say:

  • Congratulations, you handled that well! Or,
  • Bummer. Your organization now owes that employee $1.875 million

Have any ideas that are different from what’s described above in order to fix corporate training? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Know someone in a position to fix corporate training? Pass this blog post along!

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Book Review: The Manager’s Guide to Presentations

69-word Summary:

New managers have a lot to learn. Supervising and coaching is a major element that most new managers lack and it’s a reason that many new managers struggle… The Manager’s Guide to Presentations won’t help you there. Managers also need to deliver presentations that motivate, persuade, inform and influence. This book is all about helping managers (and anyone else who presents) to prepare, deliver and assess presentations that motivate, persuade, inform and influence.

The Details:

  • Author: Lauren Hug
  • Price: $17.99 on Amazon; $7.99 as a Kindle book
  • 68 Pages

Bright Spots:

  • The Length: I’ve read a lot of books on presentations, and after the first 100 pages or so, they tend to get very redundant. In this book, Lauren Hug respects her readers by making her point and then moving on.
  • The Tight Organization: Related to the length and the author’s ability to make her point and move on, this book is tightly organized: what to do before presenting, during the presentation and afterwards. Period. There were very times that I thought: “Huh, that’s an interesting concept and if I had unlimited time I might someday try that, but honestly I’m too busy to ever actually do that in real-life.”
  • The templates! This isn’t just a book to read and put away on the shelf, never to be touched again. There are templates to help organize your thoughts on your audience’s needs and expectations, addressing your personal concerns and fears about public speaking, putting together your content, creating interaction with your audience and once your presentation is over there is a template for getting meaningful feedback. Truly, this is a book to work through… unless you buy the Kindle version, which makes it tough to write in. Which brings me to my next point…

Room for Improvement:

I do really like the templates in this book. It would be nice to be able to print them out and write on them. It would be great if downloadable, printable templates were available on the Hug Speak website. Until then, I’ll just have to re-create the templates in Word.

Who Should Buy It?

As mentioned earlier, this book is not only for new managers but anyone who finds themselves needing to put together a meaningful presentation. It’s $7.99 (e-reader version), it’s less than 100 pages, it can be read in one evening, it has templates for organizing your thoughts and it might even help you prepare for and deliver an engaging presentation that leads others to act. What do you have to lose?