One presentation can change the world. Here’s proof.

Obama_In_The_Rain

I honestly don’t remember what the occasion was or when he gave his speech, but I remember sitting on my couch, watching Barack Obama talk about ways that American citizens could make a contribution.

It spoke to me because I was looking for a way to make a contribution. At the time I was working for an organization dedicated to eliminating blindness, so I guess that was one small way that I was making the world a better place. I was looking for more. Something I could directly do to make a more significant contribution.

I’ve searched and searched for the exact speech so I wouldn’t misquote him, but apparently he’s given a lot of speeches. I’ll just have to paraphrase the part of his presentation that has had a ripple effect, with the enormity of the changes still to be determined. It’s a lesson that anyone who presents or trains others could borrow from.   Continue reading

Finding Instructional Design Inspiration and Creativity from Unlikely Places

Inspiration

Walking through a lava field in Hawaii a few years ago, I turned to my wife and told her that this was such an inspirational experience… I was getting all sorts of ideas of how to connect this amazing hike with my learning and development projects. She shook her head and told me I had a one track mind.

Are some people naturally more creative than others? Perhaps. But I think like most other things, creativity is a skill set that can be developed over time for anyone who is interested in making their training programs more interesting, engaging, fun, unique and memorable.

If you’re truly interested in building your creative muscle, here are five exercises that might help.

1. Stop and look around.

Seriously, stop whatever it is that you’re doing right now Continue reading

L&D Professionals Need to Work Hard, Play Hard

Road trip to Cheyenne

Spend 5 hours working on my laptop at the airport before flying home, or take a quick road trip to a state I’ve never visited? Even with deadlines looming, it was a no-brainer.

Last week I was in Colorado to observe the pilot phase of a new training module. I had a travel day followed by a 17-hour workday and then up early the next day for the actual presentation.

I’ve had a lot of projects to work on lately, which is a great thing, but it’s also led to a lot of long days without much rest. As I was digging through my computer bag during this recent trip, sifting through a tangled mess of power cords in a frantic search for the right one, I came across a card that a colleague had given to me on the last day of my previous job.

This colleague said that some of the most important lessons I taught her were some of the day-to-day things. These day-to-day lessons included: never eating lunch at your desk, sometimes you have to take the time to watch a full-length movie during work hours (and then be inspired to turn that experience into something groundbreakingly amazing), and we should put plenty of weight on the “fun” factor as a way of increasing quality.   Continue reading

Looking for some training inspiration? Try these sources…

Lightning in a bottle

I’ve been on the road a lot recently, and I realized I’ve been recycling a lot of my go-to ideas for a variety of projects. The airline miles, the steady diet of fast food, the jet lag, the unnecessary late nights flipping through tv channels instead of going to sleep just because I have access to a tv with HBO, the simple busy-ness of being on the road – it can all conspire to wear me down after a while and leave me looking around desperately for some fresh, new ideas.

Following are several sources of new ideas that have given me a boost over the past several weeks. Hopefully you can find some inspiration in here somewhere, too!   Continue reading

Need some PowerPoint inspiration? Take a look at these 5 presentations.

There may be a variety of effective alternatives to PowerPoint, but the fact remains: PowerPoint is the most commonly used presentation tool in use today.

If you’re looking for some ideas and inspiration to make your next slide deck more engaging, here are five examples that offer plenty of elements (vivid imagery, limited/no bullet points, nice font pairings, good content, limited word count) to borrow and transfer over to your visual aids: 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.

 

What’s Possible?

Before every movie I watch on an international flight, there is an HSBC commercial. I absolutely love these commercials.  They paint a picture of a future I would never imagine on my own. They show me what’s possible.

In their book Made to Stick, the Heath brothers declare that messages are more “sticky” and memorable when they’re simple, concrete, and tell a story. These short HSBC ads definitely fit this bill: a little girl buying lemons in India, then she calls a boy her own age in France (her distributor) as she gears up to grow her lemonade stand. “In the future a rapidly growing business will need a global supply chain.”

These ads capture my imagination. I wish I could say the same about many of the training presentations I’ve attended over the past 15 years.

The ultimate goal of training and professional development is to help someone do their job better. In order for this to happen, people need to remember what they learned in the training. It needs to be “sticky.” It also helps if attendees can see themselves using their newfound knowledge and skills. It helps if they can see the possibilities and the benefits they’ll reap if they should change their behavior and begin to do things differently or better.

It’s Friday, so I’ll keep this blog post short and I’ll leave you with this guiding question as you gear up to craft your next training session: how are you going to inspire your learners by painting a picture about what’s truly possible if they were to actually to go home and do everything you’ve trained them to do?

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