Video: A Core Competency for Learning Professionals?

April 23, 2013 in Author, Find Your Focus Video, Greg Owen-Boger, Talent Development

greg 200x300“Producing didactic video is a skill that will be as important as designing workbooks that aid learning.”

I love this quote. It’s the first sentence in an article by Jonathan Halls on the ASTD website. Halls is right. Video in eLearning isn’t going away; and, as learning and performance professionals, we need to get better at producing it.

The challenge is that video has been expensive and always seemed a little mysterious. When I’ve spoken at industry events about this topic, I’ve seen that there are a lot of learning professionals hungry for help. The good news is that a lot of the new technology available to us makes it easier to produce effective video on a limited budget. We just need to get comfortable using it.

If you’re new to video and need to plan, shoot, edit or be on camera, here are some resources for you.

What other ideas do you have about producing eLearning video?

By Greg Owen-Boger, VP at Turpin Communicationand co-author of the upcoming book, “The Orderly Conversation”

What We Can Learn from the Oscars

February 26, 2013 in Assessing Your Default, Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, Facilitation, FAQs, Myths Debunked, Presentation

I watched the 85th annual Oscar telecast on Sunday. I usually watch the show, and this year I actually stayed awake until the end. What I like about the Oscars is not so much who wins, but what people say after they’ve won one. I don’t know why, but there is something really enjoyable (and not necessarily in a kind way) about watching someone experience an incredible career high and immediately have to speak to an audience of millions about it.

The pleasure is greatest with the acting categories, of course, because the contrast is so great. Here are people who can deliver amazing performances on film and then struggle just like the rest of would during the acceptance speech.

For business people it reinforces just how challenging delivering a presentation actually is.

Because when you think about it, an acceptance speech—in terms of how it’s prepared and delivered—is not that different than a presentation. They are both in their own ways, Orderly Conversations. I’m sure every nominee, even if they thought they had no chance of winning, had a plan. They thought about what they wanted to say and the order in which they wanted to say it. Some of them thought about the message they wanted to get across (Ben Affleck’s was that when you get knocked down in life, “All that matters is that you gotta get up.”)

Beyond those basics, though, there are other similarities. So here is a list of statements that are true for both the presentations you deliver and Oscar acceptance speeches.

  • Scripting doesn’t work. The best thing about this year’s show was that no one I saw pulled out a piece of paper, unfolded it, and started reading. When winners read a script like that they are never engaging or interesting.
  • People are nervous but they work through it. It’s interesting to go back and watch the acceptance speeches online. What you notice is that almost everyone is nervous at first (usually having a hard time catching their breath and saying a lot of ums and uhs), but they pause, breathe, think, and then settle down. Adele was the only winner who never fully gained her composure during her acceptance. The good thing is that she also made fun of herself for it. Which brings me to this comparison.
  • When they make mistakes, they laugh at themselves and move on. What did Jennifer Lawrence say after she fell walking up the stairs? “You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell.” That’s a perfect recovery.
  • Speaking quickly when you’re running out of time doesn’t help. Ben Affleck tried that last night before he got to the closing I quoted above (which was very well delivered). When he was speeding along he lost control and got into trouble with his “marriage is hard work” remark.
  • The best ones feel spontaneous. It doesn’t matter if acceptance speeches aren’t perfect. Those of us in the audience don’t want to see perfectly planned performances. The acceptance speech is one of the few times the public sees actors as they really are (or as close as we’ll ever get to it). We want to see them in the moment, responding to what’s happening in a genuine way. The same can be said for your presentations.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Greg to present at the Greater Detroit ASTD chapter January meeting

January 11, 2013 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, News, Presentation

Join Greg Owen-Boger on January 16, 2013 at the Greater Detroit ASTD chapter January meeting in Troy, MI. Greg will be presenting Engaging Learners in the “Orderly Conversation” – Tried & True Techniques for Engaging Today’s Learner.

Program Summary:

As trainers, we need to stay relevant in today’s tough market and take responsibility for moving participants from ho-hum observers to engaged learners. But how?

One way is to conduct training sessions as if they are “orderly conversations.” An orderly conversation is one that is (a) carefully organized, well-designed and documented and (b) flexibly executed with lively participation and input from the entire group. When trainers and facilitators engage learners in this fashion, learners are more likely to invest in the learning outcome and apply what they’ve learned back on the job.

The tricky part is that we each thrive with one side or the other: the orderly or the conversational. In other words we each have a “default approach.” While the influence of a trainer’s default is felt throughout the process, it is often too subtle and unconscious to be noticed. This highly interactive session will help you explore what your default means for you and what you can do to manage it to your advantage in the classroom.

Participants will leave the session with:

  1. A clear understanding of what it means to conduct an orderly conversation.
  2. An understanding of their default approach and how they can capitalize on their strengths and improve their weaknesses.
  3. An action plan for moving learners from ho-hum observers to engaged and passionate learners.
  4. Learn new language for coaching SMEs.

Engage in the Conversation

March 5, 2012 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, FAQs, Preparation

As you know, if you’ve ever participated in one of our workshops, we talk a lot about the use of engagement skills, eye contact and pausing. We say that using these skills to engage listeners in the conversation reduces nervousness, brings listeners into the conversation and helps you avoid the hazards of a canned performance.

Recently I picked up a public speaking text book written in 1915 by James Winans. The title is Public Speaking, Principles and Practice. I won’t go into the details about how I landed on a text written almost a hundred years ago, but I can say I was pretty happy with what I found in it. Winans has something to teach us.

Winans comes from the perspective that public speaking is “perfectly natural” and an extension of what he calls “that most familiar act” of conversation. That’s right in line with what we teach in 2012. What really impressed me, though, was his precise definition of what it means to be engaged. For Winans, engagement requires two conversational elements:

1.    Full realization of the content of your words as you utter them, and
2.    A lively sense of communication

In other words, presenters need to (1) think about what they’re saying as they’re saying it and (2) they need to speak for the purpose of communicating with someone else.

You may be thinking that this is incredibly obvious and really not worth pointing out. But think about what happens when these two elements are missing from a presentation. Without the first, the presenter may be performing something that’s been rehearsed over and over again. Or floating along on autopilot, not really thinking about what he or she is saying. Without the second, the presenter is operating in a vacuum, not responding to the audience, not adapting to the situation, not caring whether anything is communicated or not.

So what Winans is teaching us is what engagement requires, what presenters need to think about and where their attention should go to be engaged in the conversation. His ideas enrich our sense of how eye contact and pausing work as the two engagement skill presenters rely on.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

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

Greg to Speak at Training Magazine’s Training 2012 Conference

January 3, 2012 in Find Your Focus Video, News, Training

It seems that Learning & Performance professionals just can’t get enough of Down & Dirty Video: Producing Engaging eLearning Video on a Budget.

Greg Owen-Boger, Turpin Communication’s VP, has been asked to present at Training Magazine’s Training 2012 Conference in Atlanta February 15, 2012.

UPDATE: Participants say:

Thank you immensely for what was one of the best prepared, most engaging and most useful presentations of any kind I have ever had the privilege of participating in. One of my “maybe” goals for this year was to get my feet wet in video editing, and your session built my confidence that I could become functional in this skill. Your attention to making your subjects look as presentable as possible is probably one of the biggest keys to keeping SMEs on board. Incidentally, you raised my expectations for my own presentations. J. Gibbs, TATA Interactive Systems

Thanks Greg – it was probably my favorite session. B. Adams, Semex

Attention Grabbers

July 18, 2008 in Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, Engaging Listeners, Facilitation, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Introduction, Myths Debunked, News, Practice Does Not Make Perfect, Preparation, Presentation

This question comes from Jim O., an astute reader.

Question:
Can you please give me some good ideas for ice breakers and how to grab and hold on to the attention of my audience?

Answer:
We get asked this question quite often.  Like most communication issues, the solution is not as simple as we might hope.

In general, you don’t need a gimmick to “grab” your audience’s attention if you’ve prepared your presentation specifically for them.

Before you prepare your visual aids, think about what your audience wants and needs.  As you do this you may find that the level of detail you thought you needed to go into is no longer necessary.  Or you might find that you need to give them more background so that everything makes more sense to them.  In either case, you’re honing your message specifically for this particular group.

As you develop your visual aids, constantly remind yourself who this audience is.  Is the data relevant to them?  Is the message nuanced in a way that will connect with them? How much information do they need?  Keep in mind that less is more when it comes to verbiage on your slides.  During delivery, if you do your job of engaging them in a relevant two-way conversation, they’ll ask questions if they want more detail.

When you start to deliver the presentation, state your agenda up front and let them know exactly what you’ll be talking about.  Include benefits to them.  “When we’re done today you’ll have a better understanding of how XYZ will generate more sales.”  This will grab their attention better than any gimmick or ice breaker. As you move through the presentation, loop back to why your information is relevant to them.  This will keep them engaged.  If at any point you feel that you’re losing their attention, try to figure out why.  Are you addressing their needs?  Is there an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed?  Are you going into too much detail?  Have you beaten the horse dead and need to move on?  Make adjustments accordingly.

Throughout the entire process keep in mind that your success depends on your audience’s ability to grasp (and take ownership over) your main points. Too much information or the wrong information will, with almost certainty, ensure that they mentally check out.

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


Learn more at www.turpincommunication.com