Adapting to the Needs of Adult Trainers

June 21, 2016 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Posts for Buyers, Talent Development, Training

Originally published on Training Industry’s blog June 15, 2016

Adapting to the Needs of Adult Trainers by Dale LudwigAs a training and development professional, you know that the work of designing and delivering training always focuses on the needs and perspectives of adult learners. Learner needs shape how information is organized, delivered and reinforced—the whole process from beginning to end.

You also know that a workshop’s success depends on the trainer’s ability to deliver it. What is often overlooked is that individual trainers, like individual learners, have unique needs. They have different preferences, concerns and coping mechanisms which must be kept in mind when coaching them to succeed. Let’s think of them as adult trainers.

Here are some ideas that will help them succeed.

Read the full article here.

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

Training Activities: A Waste of Time or Necessary Part of Learning?

July 7, 2015 in Delivery, Facilitation, Greg Owen-Boger, Posts for Buyers, Talent Development, Training

I recently attended (and spoke at) the Association for Talent Development (ATD) International Conference in Orlando. I overheard this conversation, one trainer to another:blog pic 7-7

“I need better training activities. Every time Leadership sees me coming down the hall, they hide. I hear them say things like, ‘There comes Laura; [not her real name] she’s going to waste our time again with one of those stupid games.’”

The two individuals were deep into their conversation, and I didn’t want to interrupt, but I couldn’t help thinking about how backwards Laura’s thinking was. She doesn’t need more activities in her trainer toolbox, she needs to stop wasting her learners’ time.

If I Were Coaching Laura
If I were coaching Laura, I’d start by throwing out all of her training activities, then together we’d find relevant ways to design learning transfer. Finally, we’d work on her facilitation skills so that she doesn’t feel the need to fall back on those rusty tools in her toolbox.

Is There Another Approach?
A dear friend and colleague at the ATD Chicagoland Chapter, Matt Elwell, and I often spar over learning activities. Matt and I have a lot in common. We both have a theatre background, we’re both passionate about adult learning, and we both have a preoccupation with the need for better communication, but we’ve taken slightly different paths on this one issue.

I asked Matt to sum up his position on Learning Activities. His response was, “Blaming learning activities for bad delivery is like blaming the electric guitar for Nickelback. Learning activities are powerful tools, but they need to be chosen and modified with the learning outcome and needs of the participants in mind. Like any other element of talent development, it requires honest discovery, insightful design, and expert delivery.”

So where I’m skeptical of activities in general, Matt’s skeptical of the way trainers handle training activities. However, we both agree that activities:

  • Ought not waste peoples’ time.
  • Should show a return on investment (ROI).

The Unintended Damage of Poorly Executed Learning Activities
Poorly received activities don’t just fail to meet the needs of the business, they can actually cause harm in the form of wasted time (money) and squandered goodwill both for the trainer and for training itself.

So Now What?
Matt actually spoke at an ATD Chicagoland Chapter (ATDChi) event last February about this very thing, and I’ve been encouraging him to speak more about it. He makes a great case (and he has a calculator!) for ensuring each segment of training is worth the time, money, and effort and that training has a positive effect on the business.

What do you think? How do YOU feel about training activities? I’d love to hear from both learners and trainers, both pro and con.

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

Carrots, and, um, Sticks

October 21, 2014 in Author, Barbara Egel, Delivery, Presentation

Barbara Egel, Coach at Turpin CommunicationRecently in a Speaking with Confidence and Clarity workshop, I was coaching a young man who was counting his “ums” as he watched his video. This was a continuation of something that had gone on in the main room with the whole class: they were counting each others’ “ums” and “uhs.” As he quantified his errors, I realized that he was taking part in the very natural—and completely unproductive—behavior of beating himself up for irrelevant transgressions. After all, the “ums” weren’t that distracting. If he hadn’t pointed them out, I would have missed most of them.

Focusing on the mistakes just makes more of them

The problem with taking note of every “um” (or “uh,” “like,” “and stuff,” “you know”) you say is that you issue yourself a little mental punishment, like a tiny electric shock, every time you do. Punishment instills fear, and fear pulls you out of your engagement with your audience, often leading to more of the behavior you were trying to limit. In other words, focusing on your bad moves gives them way too much power and increases the chance they will happen again.

So what’s the solution? Reward.

I suggested to this learner that rather than falling into the self-defeating spiral of counting his “ums,” he should instead find moments to reward himself for staying engaged and on track (in spite of the “ums”) with a big helping of oxygen. Yep, just take a breath. A breath is a pause, and pausing is a powerful engagement technique. Not only will he pull away from the disengaging punishment spiral, but he’ll actually be moving in the opposite direction toward meaningful engagement. This will boost his confidence, literally feed his brain, and calm his nerves. 

Treat yourself!

My challenge to you, then, is to escape the punishment cycle and find your during-your-presentation reward in a nice big breath. By doing so, you will give yourself time to think, engage, and really connect with your audience and yourself.

By Barbara Egel, Presentation Coach at Turpin Communication and editor of “The Orderly Conversation.”

“There’s No Soul in Perfection”

April 3, 2014 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Myths Debunked, Video

american-idol-logoI’ll admit it. I watch American Idol. I suppose I have a little bit of … something… in my heart for those kids. I used to be a young performer. I dreamt of stardom too.

Now that I’m older and have worked that dream out of my system, I’m far more interested in the coaching the contestants receive than the performances themselves. Last night’s show, Season 13 – Top 8, was a coaching bonanza.

greg 200x300Harry Connick Jr’s advice to Sam was to make a connection, look at a single person (or the camera) and connect. He’s right about that. And it’s good advice for business presenters too. It’s not enough to say words, no matter how clear or persuasive (or pitch perfect) you are. You need to say them to someone. Make a connection. Make sure you’ve been heard and understood.

Immediately following Harry’s advice, Keith Urban told Sam, “There’s no soul in perfection.” He wants Sam to let loose, get a little dirty, rough it up. The same is true for business presenters.

We’ve posted a lot about the downside to striving for presentation perfection. It puts too much pressure on you and it takes you out of the moment. You can’t be “in” a conversation and reciting what you’ve rehearsed at the same time. It just doesn’t work. A presentation audience wants to feel as if the words are coming out of your mouth for the first time. They want to feel as if they can add to the conversation rather than observe as you talk.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be prepared. You should be. But you also need to react in the moment to what’s happening around you. Let the conversation get a little messy. Rough it up. Make a connection. That’s when the heart and soul of a business presentation shines.

Here are some other posts that talk about perfection, nervousness created by the desire for perfection, and the downside to practicing too much.

Practice Makes Perfect… or not.

Dealing with Presentation Nerves

 

Presentation Myth: I have been told to Practice Practice Practice. What do you think?

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

Resolution Season: NEW Private Coaching Service

January 7, 2014 in News, Preparation, Presentation, Training

We hope your new year is off to a great start. One of our goals this year at Turpin is to make it easier for workshop participants to receive follow-up coaching when they need it most.

If you’ve been through one of our workshops, you know that our goal is to make presenting easier. We provide practical recommendations you can take back to work and use right away.

The challenge for you is applying what you’ve learned (1) in the variety of situations you face and (2) when you have a lot of other things to think about. This is especially true when you have an important presentation coming up.

Coaching for Your Next High-Stakes Presentation
To help you succeed when you can’t afford to mess up, we’re offering a new follow-up coaching service. Starting this year, for an additional fee, workshop participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a private coaching session after their workshop.

How Does It Work?

  • Coaching will be delivered virtually. No travel required.
  • The session will last an hour. Long enough to be productive, short enough to give you time to do other things that day.
  • You decide when your coaching session takes place and what it will focus on.
  • You know your coach already. Whenever possible, your coaching session will be with one of the instructors from your live workshop.
  • We’ll do our homework. Before the coaching session we’ll ask you to email your presentation to us. We’ll review it and prepare feedback before coaching takes place.
  • Immediately after coaching, we’ll email you a summary of the work we did.

Who’s It For?
Coaching is available for all workshop participants, no matter when your workshop was held.

How to Sign Up
Just contact Dana Peters for pricing information and to schedule a session.

We’re excited to offer this new level of support for our clients.

Presentation Skills Training: REDEFINED. (Part 5 of 5)

March 19, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Talent Development, Training

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

This is the last article in a series about the characteristics of successful business presentation training. The question I’ve set out to answer with the series is “How do I know I’m getting presentation skills training that will give me the skills I need to succeed on the job?” In the last entry, I focused on why real-life presentation content is a must. In this post I’ll focus on why understanding what you bring to the workshop is just as important as what you take away from it.

As I said before, your response to the content you deliver must be taken into consideration. When it isn’t, training becomes an academic exercise, one that may be interesting, but ultimately not that useful.

This same idea applies to your improvement as a whole. Your personal responses to the challenges of presenting have to be taken into consideration. This begins with the surface-level, but it doesn’t end there. Only by digging a little deeper, to find out what’s beneath what you’re feeling and thinking in the moment, can real improvement be achieved.

For example, nervousness is a common response to presenting. It is also a complicated response, unique to everyone who experiences it. Some presenters are nervous about what they’re saying, not quite sure if they will be able to stay focused on the plan. Others are nervous when they’re the center of attention. Still others are nervous about the audience or a particular person in the audience. Once the cause of your particular type of nervousness is found, you can be coached to focus on the behaviors that will help you manage it. Without understanding what’s behind the nervousness, coaching is hit or miss.

Another example involves presenters second-guessing themselves. Many of the people we work with tie themselves up in knots of self-doubt. They worry that they aren’t making sense or that some point or other didn’t come out the way they’d hoped. Coaching these presenters begins by figuring out if what the presenter is feeling is accurate. Are they really stumbling? Sometimes they are. But most of the time they aren’t. When that’s the case, the presenter just needs to understand that it’s in their nature to monitor themselves a little too strictly. And that means they can trust themselves more than they think. When they do, their confidence and comfort increase.

We always tell the people we train that we want them to be themselves. They don’t need to change who they are to succeed. My point here is that being yourself begins with knowing yourself. Success begins with an understanding of your visceral response to the challenges of presenting. On this level, there are no right and wrong responses. There is simply your response. Training should help you understand what that is and what you can do to manage it.

So to wrap up this series, remember that successful presentation skills training has these characteristics:

  • It focuses on presentations, not speeches. They are not the same.
  • It builds skills from the inside out.
  • It focuses on the nitty-gritty challenges of real-life content.
  • Coaching begins with an understanding of your unique response to the challenges of presenting.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Presentation Skills Training: REDEFINED. (Part 4 of 5)

March 12, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Training

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5

This is the fourth in a series of five blog posts focusing on the skill-building approach business presenters need.

As I said in the first post of this series, if you find yourself in a presentation skills workshop where you are not working on preparing and delivering a real-life presentation, pack up your things and leave the class. I feel comfortable making this assertion because improving your skills as a business presenter is all about nuance and flexibility. Neither can be fully appreciated unless you’re working with content that’s real to you.

When I was teaching Public Speaking 101 to college students I was frustrated by the fact that my job was to teach students about public speaking, not developing their skills in public speaking. Granted speeches were delivered in class, but they were almost always merely another academic exercise for the students. For the most part, they didn’t care all that much about the topic they spoke about. They were interested in getting a decent grade.

You certainly can’t blame the students for that, but each grade had to be determined by behaviors that were objectively and fairly measured. This leads to standardization, prescriptive delivery, and speeches that very rarely had a demonstrable effect on audience or speaker alike.

Business presenters need something very different than that.

When you deliver a presentation, you’re doing something that is very much a part of your job. Your audience is equally invested in the presentation and its outcomes because it’s their job to be that way. What needs to happen during a presentation skills workshop, then, must recreate that environment as fully as possible. That begins, of course, with the topic of the presentation each person is working on.

When training opens up to an examination of real-life topics and audiences, the workshop can focus on subtleties like these.

  • When you prepare your presentations, are you able to focus on the audience’s need to understand what you’re presenting or are you simply focused on the information itself? Focusing on audience understanding is not intuitive for most presenters because it requires a hard look at familiar content from another’s perspective. That’s a necessary, but not always easy process.
  • Another issue concerning preparation: do you tend to over-prepare because you’re after absolute accuracy or do you tend to under-prepare because you understand the content so well? Understanding and adapting to what comes naturally to you is crucial for improvement.
  • During delivery, how does your familiarity with your content affect your ability to explain it to someone else? Do you go too quickly, making too many assumptions? Do you go into more detail that anyone needs? Are you able to adjust to the level of knowledge or interest of audience members? These questions can only be answered through practice and feedback using real-life content during the training process.

These are some of the issues that need to be surfaced during your training.

In the final post in this series, I’ll discuss how the coaching you receive during your training must focus on what you bring into the class as much as what you take away from it.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 5

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Presentation Skills Training: REDEFINED. (Part 1 of 5)

January 28, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Training

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5

Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin CommunicationI read an interesting post by Josh Bersin on LinkedIn last week about the mismatch between academic education and job skills. What jumped out at me was research showing that “While 42% of employers believe newly educated workers are ready for work, 72% of educational institutions do.”

That’s a pretty big disconnect, but it’s one that I’m used to in my corner of corporate learning and development. Participants in our presentation skills workshop always have to unlearn what they have been taught in school about presenting. In fact, as I have written about here, most training delivered to business presenters misses the mark because it is built on what is essentially an academic methodology.

I think it’s time to revisit this issue.

My goal in the next four blog posts is to talk about the fundamental differences between an academic (think Public Speaking 101) methodology and the skill building approach my colleagues and I have developed over the past 20 years. The question I’ll try to answer is this: How do I know I’m getting presentation skills training that will give me the skills I need to succeed on the job?

Here’s an overview.

  • Presentation skills training must focus on the type of presentations you actually deliver. So my next post will focus on the difference between a speech and presentation. Or, to put it another way, the difference between a performance and a conversation.
  • Next, I’ll talk about why the skills you need for presenting must be built from the inside out. Improvement must focus on how things feel to the presenter as well as how they appear to the audience.
  • If you find yourself in a presentation skills workshop where you are not working on the nitty-gritty challenges of a real-life presentation, pack up your things and leave the class. This is not because training should be as relevant as possible; it’s about nuance. The fundamentals of preparing a presentation are easy to understand (and most people already know them). The challenge is with their application.
  • Finally, the coaching you receive in a presentation skills workshop must focus on your response to the challenges of presenting. You are not, after all, a blank slate. You have experience and preferences that are unique to you. After a presentation skills workshop, you should have more perspective on yourself and a clear sense of not only what you should focus on to improve but also why you should focus on it.

I look forward to going into more detail in the weeks to come.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Practice Makes Perfect… or not.

September 4, 2012 in Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Myths Debunked, Nervousness, Preparation, Presentation

 

greg 200x300A lot of people will tell you to “practice, practice, practice” because “practice makes perfect.”

When it comes to presenting, this is some of the worst advice you can get or give.

Practicing a presentation cannot possibly lead to perfection.

Here’s why.

Effective presentations are not speeches (which I suppose could be perfected). They are conversations. Conversations by their very nature are imperfect. They involve other people and are therefore unpredictable. They twist and turn. They stop and start. They go back on themselves. They jump forward.

You can’t predict any of that. Therefore, practicing a presentation until it is perfected is a foolish exercise.

The desire to be perfect and the pressure of other people telling you that you can be (should be) perfect puts the bar too high. And here’s what happens:

  • You put too much energy into reaching the bar,
  • which leads to nervousness,
  • which disengages you,
  • which puts you in your head trying to recreate the script you etched into your brain during practice,
  • which leads to a dull, lifeless, uninspiring meeting.

Hardly perfect.

It’s more than bad advice, though, it causes damage.
Strong words, I know. But I’ve worked with enough presenters to know that they drag around a lot of baggage from the bad advice and training they’ve received over the years. A lot of my job when coaching them is to undo the damage. I help people see things in a new way and I give them a new set of skills and techniques that will work uniquely for them.

If I were your coach
If we had the chance to work together, I’d start by asking you to redefine your next presentation as an Orderly Conversation. An Orderly Conversation is one that is carefully organized and flexibly executed.

When you think of presentations as Orderly Conversations, it changes how you think of (and use) your slides. They become thought starters that will trigger dialogue. They become support for the conversation rather than being the presentation. This new thinking will change the information you put on your slides and how you arrange it.

Let’s assume that your slides are complete and you feel that they will support the conversation you want to have. Now it’s time to review. Notice I said “review,” not practice. As you review your slides, look at each and grab a thought. That thought should launch the conversation you intended. If not, change it until it does.

As you think through each slide, avoid scripting yourself. Think of different ways of explaining each slide. Remember you’re not striving for perfection. You’re working toward flexibility.

Once the conversation begins, let loose and enjoy it. Trust that your slides will be there to support the conversation. Let it get a little messy, follow your listeners’ lead for a bit, bring it back around. You’ll be amazed at how much more fun presenting can be.

By Greg Owen-Boger, VP and Trainer at 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.