Communicating Relevance and Earning Trust: What we can all learn from ATDChi’s Panel Discussion

January 28, 2015 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Talent Development

atd logoEarlier this month I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion for the Chicagoland Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATDChi, formerly CCASTD). The title of the panel was “Earning L&D’s Seat at the Decision-Making Table.” It was an impressive group of panelists and a huge topic. During the hour-long discussion we focused on many of the challenges those of us in learning and development, HR, and OD face.

Two things struck me about the conversation. The first had to do with how much we focused on communication issues. The second had to do with the fact that L&D professionals have been struggling with the seat-at-the-table issue for as long as there have been L&D professionals. And I think that’s OK.

It starts with effective communication
Let’s talk about the communication issues first. Whether you work within a single business or are an outside consultant to many businesses, the panel agreed that your ability to communicate relevance is essential. When we demonstrate that we understand the business and clearly communicate what we have to offer it, we earn the trust we need to succeed. Here are a few of the comments from the discussion.

  • “We have to speak their language and communicate the value we bring to the business. And we should be able to do that quickly. So many people in our industry simply take too long to get to the point.”
  • “The work we do involves people and change. It’s necessarily a messy and organic process. To succeed we must communicate relevance.”
  • “We must communicate a deep understanding of the business as a whole—we need to know how it functions first-hand.”
  • “Our seat at the table is earned with trust. If we aren’t trusted, we’re not at the table.”

At Turpin, we talk a lot about trust. Presenters, meeting facilitators, trainers, managers, and leaders must earn the trust and good will of the people they work with. They need to understand and respect another’s perspective—whether they agree with it or not. And they need to trust the “messy and organic” process of communication itself. Failure to do so erodes the foundation required for a fruitful conversation—no matter where it takes place within the business.

dale_ludwig_hi-res_colorWe never stop earning our seat at the table
The second thing I took away from the panel is that L&D’s seemingly endless battle to earn a seat keeps us on our toes. It’s like a CPG sales person who has to go before the same retail buyer month after month, each time working hard to stay relevant, adapt to the changing market, and to deliver what is needed. A good sales person works hard to remain a trusted resource, just as we should.

So maybe we should give up the assumption that earning a seat at the table (regardless of whose table it is or what decision is being made) is a goal to be achieved. Maybe it’s more of a process; one that, in the long run, makes us better at our jobs.

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

9 Habits of Highly Effective Business Presenters

February 17, 2014 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Presentation

A friend and fellow CCASTD board member sent this article to me, 9 Habits of Highly Effective Speakers, and asked what I thought.

If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, here is a snapshot of the nine “habits.”

  1. They are authentic.
  2. They choose phrases carefully.
  3. They keep it short.
  4. They rewrite. And they rewrite some more.
  5. They build rapport.
  6. They tell stories.
  7. They organize.
  8. They practice.
  9. They learn from the masters.

These 9 ideas are terrific if (and this is a BIG IF) you are delivering a speech. The author of this piece is definitely talking about speeches. He says so right at the beginning of the piece. He mentions graduation addresses, TED talks, and the State of the Union.

Those are perfectly reasonable types of speeches to study. But when was the last time you actually delivered a speech?

It’s important not to confuse speechmaking with business presenting.

They are two very different forms of communication. Unfortunately, too many times they are lumped together, which is one of the reasons professionals struggle so mightily with their business presentations. They require a different set of skills and techniques. Speeches are written and read (or perhaps memorized) whereas presentations are initiated and facilitated.

They are also judged on different scales. Speeches are successful when they are well crafted. Business presentations are successful when they get business done in an efficient manner.

If you go back and look at the nine habits, they could be substituted as advice for writers. Again, good advice for speechmakers. Not so good for presenters.

You need something better.

So, here is our list.

9 Habits of Highly Effective Business Presenters:

  1. Engage your listeners in a conversation, don’t deliver a performance.
  2. Keep it about them, not about you.
  3. Speak spontaneously within the framework of your preparation.
  4. Design visuals to keep you on track and to spark the right thoughts during delivery.
  5. Bring visuals into the conversation to enhance, clarify, and support.
  6. Create the environment for a fruitful conversation.
  7. Pause to think and control knee-jerk reactions, even when emotion creeps in.
  8. Respect what others have to say.
  9. Look for clues that your audience understands, not just hears what you’re saying.

At Turpin Communication we don’t work with speeches. We work with everyday getting-business-done presentations. Or as we call them: Orderly Conversations. This redefinition will make all the difference for you. Hope this article sheds new light on the work that you do.

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP at Turpin Communication and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Orderly Conversation”

Moderating a Panel: 3 Unconventional Best Practices

January 21, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Facilitation, Meetings, Talent Development

Last week Greg (Turpin’s VP) moderated a panel discussion hosted by the Chicagoland Chapter ASTD (CCASTD).

As I observed, I realized that the discussion was one of the best I’d ever attended. It was good, not only because of the insightful panelists (and they were), but also because of how Greg kept the conversation orderly through the use of some unconventional techniques. Here’s what I mean.


  1. Direct everyone’s focus. As you can see in the photo, Greg positioned himself in the audience. We were in theatre seating with a center aisle. As you probably have seen in other panel discussions, panelists tend to speak directly to the moderator. Had Greg been up front, the panelists would have had to turn to the side or back to address him. Being out in the audience opened them up to the group. Placing himself in the audience also helped Greg monitor what was going on with the group as a whole.
  2. Make it as conversational and intimate as possible. While there was a raised stage behind them, the panelists were seated at audience level on stools. Having them sit on the same level as the audience, but slightly elevated, made the conversation feel more intimate. Also, the panel took place after dinner. While it took a few minutes to move from the round dinner tables to the theatre seating, the new seating arrangement made it so much easier to listen. No one was forced to twist uncomfortably to face the panelists.
  3. Help us know who’s talking. The panelists’ pictures, name, title and company were projected behind them in the same order they were sitting. This helped the audience remember who everyone was and the angle their answers and comments came from. This was such a simple, practical idea. How many times have you forgotten who individual panelists are after they have been introduced? If you’re like me, every time. Panelists’ bios and pictures were also provided on handouts. I was able to learn more about them, if I wanted, as the discussion went on.

I think the evening’s success was the result of Greg’s taking the time to think about how he could make the panel discussion as easy as possible—from the panelist’s perspective and the audience’s. By breaking the fourth wall of the stage, he was able to bring the discussion to the audience, making all of us feel a part of it.

In the photo left to right:

  • Michelle Reid-Powell, VP of Talent Management and Organizational Effectiveness, The CARA Group
  • Aaron Olson, VP and Global Head of Talent Management, Aon Corporation
  • Greg Owen-Boger, VP, Turpin Communication
  • Panelist blocked by Greg:  Tara Hawkins, Training & Development Graduate Program Coordinator, Roosevelt University
  • Toni Fico, Director, Performance Solutions, U.S. Cellular
  • Brittany Horner, Associate Principal, Caveo Learning
by Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin Communication and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Orderly Conversation”

What a Year!

December 30, 2013 in News, The Orderly Conversation, Training

2013 was a banner year here at Turpin Communication. Thank you for helping us make it all happen.

Here are some 2013 highlights:

So, what’s coming in 2014?

The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined will launch in the first half of the year. Stay tuned. In the meantime, pre-orders are now available at

How about you? Is working with you or your team in our future? We hope so.

Contact Dana Peters at 773-294-1566 or

QR Codes and Your Next Presentation

June 25, 2012 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Preparation, Presentation


Last week I had the pleasure of attending a workshop on QR codes (among other social media things) at a session hosted by the Chicagoland Chapter ASTD. It was led by Larry Straining, founder of Larry’s Training, and author of the book, “ 111 Creative Ways to use QR Codes.”

I’ve used QR codes for a handful of things, but it never occurred to me that they might be useful for Turpin’s clients and their presentations.

There’s been a lot of discussion recently with some of our larger clients about trimming back the amount of information on their employees’ slides and leave-behind documents. We wholeheartedly agree, as long as the slide/handout doesn’t lose meaning or cause confusion for the presenter or listener. The problem with this approach, though, is that sometimes audience members need to be able to access back-up information later.

greg 200x300Ding. Ding. Ding.

Why not make that back-up info available and accessible through a QR code? Less paper, more easily accessible information. That seems like a win-win.

Here’s how it would work. As you prepare your presentation, collect whatever data you need to support your points. Put the detail into a separate document, then create slides that are lean and give you just enough reminder of what you want to say. Upload your support document to a service such as YouSendIt, and create a QR code to link to it. Then copy/paste the QR code onto the slide.

Viola! You have an instant appendix available to your listeners long after you’ve left the conference room. All they have to do is scan the code with their mobile device.

How have you used QR codes?

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