Dual Role: SMEs as Trainers in the Classroom

April 4, 2016 in Dale Ludwig, Facilitation, Greg Owen-Boger, News, Posts for Buyers, Talent Development, Training

Association for Talent Development - TD Cover Article by Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-BogerCongratulations to Turpin Communication’s Founder, Dale Ludwig, and VP, Greg Owen-Boger, on their cover article for TD Magazine, which is published by the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

Read the full article, published April 1, 2016 at TD.org.

The article is also available as a podcast.

 



Update May 2, 2016

View a webcast about this article. TD Magazine: 5 Ways to Help SMEs Facilitate Learning

 

Also… Read what Paula Ketter, Publisher, says in her editor’s note.

The cover article in this month’s issue stirs up some great debate in the world of workplace training: Subject matter experts as trainers or talent development professionals as trainers? There is no right or wrong answer, but there are some critical best practices that should be followed if you’re thinking about using SMEs to bring your content to life.

According to authors Greg Owen-Boger and Dale Ludwig, reliance on SMEs to be facilitators in the classroom “brings risk. Although they want to do well in the classroom, it is an environment outside their expertise. SMEs often do not understand that the delivery of information does not equal learning transfer.”

 

 

More About When and How to Ask Questions During Your Presentations

April 1, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Introduction, Meetings, Presentation, Training

The article we shared on Facebook last week, Do you really expect me to respond to that?, sparked a question from Barbara.

Hey Dale, could we have a post soon on questions that aren’t manipulative? That is, how/when to place a question that helps you gauge your audience and gather information? For example, “How many of you switched to the new software at least a year ago? Within the last six months? Haven’t switched yet?” I can see that the information could be useful to the presenter in tailoring their talking points, but I can also see it as kind of annoying. So, best practices?

Barbara’s question is a good one for anyone who has ever gathered—or attempted to gather—information from audience members during a presentation or training session. As she points out, learning more about your audience’s knowledge or perspective really does help you tailor the information you’re delivering to their needs.

The challenge is to gather information in a way that doesn’t squander the audience’s good will.dale_ludwig_hi-res_color

Before I list a few best practices for this type of interaction, let me emphasize the fundamental issue involved: when you ask your audience to take an active role in the conversation, by answering a question or participating in a discussion, you are asking them to do you a favor.

In some situations, you are also asking them to take a risk. For example, “How many of you are struggling with the new software?” may be a question people may not want to respond to in public. They may fear they are the only person struggling or maybe they have been avoiding the new software for months and would rather not admit it.

Gathering information, then, needs to be managed in a way that makes the audience feel they are participating in a safe, necessary, and fruitful discussion. They need to believe you have done your homework, there is a reason they should respond, and you respect their time and effort.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Earn the right to ask for participation. As I said in my previous post, don’t begin with a question. Create context and establish the right tone first.
  • Explain why you need information from them. Will it make the conversation better? More efficient? Quicker?
  • Acknowledge that by responding to you, the group is helping you do your job. Just because they came to the meeting doesn’t mean they are ready to respond to your questions. Make it easy for them and be genuinely appreciative.
  • Don’t condescend. If all you’re doing is fishing for the “right” answer to a question, you’re misusing the interactive process and treating adults like children. This often happens during training sessions. The questions you ask should not feel like a test. Instead, they should lead to deeper understanding. For example, instead of saying, “Okay, so we’ve gone over the four steps necessary for this process to work. Who can remind the group what they are?” it’s better to say, “Does everyone feel comfortable with these four steps? If so, we’ll move on. If not, how can I help you be more comfortable?”
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, use the information you gather to shape the rest of the conversation. If you don’t, you’re not only wasting an opportunity, but you’re also disrespecting the effort the audience made to participate.

by Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin Communication and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Orderly Conversation”

Memorizing the Opening of a Presentation

January 17, 2012 in Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, Engaging Listeners, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Introduction, Myths Debunked, Practice Does Not Make Perfect, Preparation, Presentation

greg 200x300Question: Why don’t you recommend memorizing the opening of a presentation?

Answer: The reason we don’t recommend memorizing the opening of a presentation is because it places your focus in the wrong place. When your presentation starts, you should be thinking about your listeners and engaging them in the conversation not recalling a script.

If you do memorize the beginning, you run these risks:

  • Sounding stilted or self-conscious
  • Appearing “put on” or as if you’re performing
  • Ignoring (or not noticing) what happened moments before you started speaking
  • Missing non-verbal cues from your listeners
  • Bulldozing
  • Failing to connect dots from earlier portions of the meeting

We’ve written several posts about best practices for introducing your presentation, so I won’t go into that here, we’ve also written about the pitfalls of too much practice.

The big thing to keep in mind is that everyday presentations need to feel like genuine conversations. Memorizing a script of any sort is in direct conflict with that and must be avoided.

by Greg Owen-Boger, Vice President, Turpin Communication

Turpin Receives Highest Ratings of Any Session!

September 9, 2011 in Find Your Focus Video, News

Not to brag too much, but Greg Owen-Boger, Turpin’s VP, received the highest ratings of any other speaker at the Chicago eLearning & Technology Showcase held August 16, 2011 at Union League Club of Chicago.

From the Conference Speaker Team Leader, Apryl Cox Jackson: “I’d like to add my thanks for giving such a great session. It looks like your session had the highest ratings of any session all day!”

The session was called Down & Dirty Video: Practical Strategies for Producing Engaging E-Learning Video on a Budget.

Topics included:

  • Best practices for developing and rehearsing a script.
  • Best practices for setting up a make-shift studio and the placement of the camera, lights and sound equipment.
  • Strategies for engaging learners and sounding conversational (and coaching others to do the same).
  • Guidelines for editing and producing the finished product.

Training and Presenting in a Virtual World: Turpin Communication’s Top 10 List of Best Practices (a Year in the Making)

December 22, 2010 in Author, Delivery, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Training, Video, Virtual

greg 200x300As I look back at 2010 I realize that we spent a lot of time presenting and training in a virtual environment. We also produced a lot of training videos for ourselves, partners and clients.

For better or worse, it looks like webinars, video conferences and online training videos aren’t going away any time soon, so we might as well figure out how to present information effectively using them. All year my colleagues and I have been compiling some best practices. Here are 10 of them, 5 for presenting in a webinar format and 5 for using video conferencing.

Presenting Virtually

The biggest issue we see when it comes to presenting virtually is the challenge of keeping listeners engaged. Here are 5 suggestions.

  1. Create Compelling & Relevant Content
    I know this sounds obvious, but engaging participants in a virtual environment starts with your content. Too many times I’ve participated in webinars in which the speakers had nothing new or interesting to say. Participants in virtual events are a very (VERY) distracted bunch; don’t give them another reason to tune you out. Keep your content focused on their wants and needs, connect dots by reinforcing the application and relevance to their lives, and keep things concise.
  2. Do Not Read from a Script
    If people sense that you are scripted they’ll tune out very quickly. Instead, make it feel like a conversation. Each person should feel as if you’re speaking directly to him/her. Our recommendation for doing this is to have a second person in the room with you and speak directly to him/her. They will react, and when they do, you should respond accordingly just like you would in everyday conversation. Using this technique, your intonation will sound natural and interesting to virtual attendees.
  3. Include Multiple Speakers
    I’m more inclined to stay engaged when there is more than one speaker. It’s more interesting to listen to multiple voices with (perhaps) differing points of view. If you can include multiple speakers we recommend it. Just assign who will deliver what prior to going live.
  4. Being Interactive Does Not Equal Being Engaged
    Don’t confuse the “engagement tools” included in the event platform software with human engagement techniques. Using these tools does very little to engage people, but they do a lot to keep people active. So, think of the polling, hand-raising and chat features as “interaction” tools. The creators of these tools recommend using one every few minutes. That advice is silly and unhelpful. Do not use them just for the sake of using them. People are sophisticated and do not endure being hoodwinked for long. Instead (a) use one when it will genuinely help move things forward and (b) do your best to keep things relevant and engage your listeners in the conversation.
  5. Give Them Time
    When you use a poll or some other interaction tool, give participants time to complete the task. I find it irritating when presenters end a poll before I have time to thoughtfully respond. My recommendation is to set up the poll clearly and tell people how much time you’ll give them to respond. “You have 60 seconds to respond.” Then count it down for them. “30 seconds remain… 10 seconds… and the poll is now… closed.” This technique will give you the urgency you want so that people will participate, but still give them an appropriate window of time to complete the task.

There are, of course, other recommendations for conducting virtual sessions, but those are our top five.

Presenting Via Video

Now let’s discuss best practices for presenting using video. We’ve broken it down into two sub-groups: prerecorded video and synchronous video conferencing

Prerecorded Online Video (tutorials, eLearning, sales pitches, etc.)
While not an official part of our top 10 list, our thoughts for effectively recording a presentation on video are worth noting.

Earlier in the year we were contacted by Mike Grosso and David Tyner at KinetiCast. Their service allows sales people to create very quick video-based presentations that help move the sales process forward. They had seen some of our eLearning videos, and asked us to provide them with some how-to videos for their customers. Here’s a link to those how-to presentations using KinetiCast’s system. (You’ll be asked for your name and email. Don’t worry. We don’t sell anyone’s information.) While these how-to videos are focused on using the KinetiCast service (which we recommend by the way), the techniques for engaging viewers through the camera’s lens, being concise & listener-focused, and producing high-quality video on a budget can easily be transferred to other types of talking-head video creation.

Synchronous Video Conferencing
Video conferencing capability has come a long way, and it’s gaining momentum for becoming a standard delivery technique for meetings, presentations and training. Again, my colleagues and I have been compiling some best practices. Here are 5, which round out our Top 10 list for the year.

  1. Understand Lag and Synch Issues
    It’s important to understand that there may be some lag and that the video and audio may be out of synch. This causes people to unintentionally interrupt and trip over each other. Our recommendation is to be patient with others, and pause before speaking to ensure that the previous speaker was finished. This means that the conversations will be slower paced than face-to-face, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When communicating via one-way radio, it’s common practice to say “over” when you’re done speaking. Perhaps you can implement an equivalent process? This may be particularly useful when there are more than two locations dialing in.
  2. Assign One Person to be the Moderator
    The moderator can be the host or someone else, but make it clear at the beginning of the video conference that this person is in charge. When the discussion gets going and people start tripping over each other, this person should step in and moderate.
  3. Pay Particular Attention to Your Eye Contact
    You should look into the camera’s lens when speaking, not at the person’s eyes as they are projected on the screen or monitor. When you look into the lens, the people you’re speaking to will feel as if you’re looking directly at them. If you look at their projection, you’ll appear as if you’re looking off into space as you speak. This is difficult to do, but once you master it this technique won’t feel so awkward.
  4. Adjust Your Lights
    To the degree possible, adjust lights in your room so that your face can be seen on video. In general you want more light in front of you shining on your face and less light behind you.
  5. Don’t Yell
    I’m not sure why people do this, but they tend to raise their voices when on a video conference. Speak in your normal tone and in the general direction of the microphone. Check in with people, especially at the beginning, to set or correct your volume level.

So there you have it: a year’s worth of best practices for presenting and training in a virtual world. Have thoughts of your own? We’d love to hear them.

From all of us at Turpin Communication, have a wonderful New Year.

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP and Trainer at Turpin Communication

What to do when asked questions about things you have already talked about.

June 8, 2010 in Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, FAQs, Handling Questions, Managing the Orderly Conversation, Mary Clare Healy, Video

Here’s a Frequently Asked Question about being interrupted during a presentation with something you’ve already addressed.

Mary Clare answers in this video blog entry.

QUESTION:
What should you do when you get asked questions about things you already talked about?