Set SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) up for Success

August 23, 2016 in Greg Owen-Boger, Posts for Buyers, Talent Development, Training, Video

In this video, produced by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Greg Owen-Boger, Turpin’s VP, discusses how to set Subject Matter Experts up for success when designing content for them to deliver.


My colleagues and I work with a lot of subject matter experts and one of the things we’ve come to learn is that the materials that are designed for them, the the slide decks, the leader guides, and so on, are rarely designed with their delivery in mind. Now if you’ve ever delivered somebody else’s presentation or training material you know how very difficult that can be. So I’ve got two ideas for ‘what to do’ and one for ‘not to do.’

First, always make sure that the slide title is rock-solid. It should be clear and concise and SME should look at that slide title and know exactly what you intended for him/her to say.

Second, think hard about the “so what” about each slide or each group of slides. Don’t ask the SME to figure it out. That’s too much work for them. So give it to them in the leader guide or even in the notes section of PowerPoint. That way they’ll know how to wrap up each slide or groups of slides.

Finally, the thing not to do is to script them. They’re not actors and we shouldn’t ask them to recite a script. Give them their talking points and let them improvise around them.

So there you have it: two things to do, one not to do.

Coach Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to Understand Their Dual Role in the Training Room

August 17, 2016 in Greg Owen-Boger, Posts for Buyers, Talent Development, Training, Video

In this video, produced by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Greg Owen-Boger, Turpin’s VP, discusses why Subject Matter Experts need guidance when asked to step into a training role.


“I think the biggest challenge working with subject matter experts in the training room is that they simply don’t understand their dual role. That is, of course, that of Subject Matter Expert, but also that of trainer. And once they understand that there’s a very big difference between the two, and that by wearing the trainer hat they need to provide relevance, context, and on the job application, they’re more likely to succeed. And, ultimately, they need to understand that it’s not enough just to say the words. Those words need to be heard and understood.”

Happy 70th Birthday, TD Magazine!

July 5, 2016 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, News, Posts for Buyers, Talent Development, Training

We’d like to take a moment to wish TD Magazine a very happy 70th birthday!

TD Magazine is the flagship publication of the Association for Talent Development (ATD). As you may remember, Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger (Turpin’s leaders) co-authored an article, which landed on the magazine’s cover in the April issue earlier this year. The cover makes a guest appearance in the video below.

We’re so very happy to be part of this innovative and historic publication.

Miss the article? You can read it here: Dual Role: SMEs as Trainers in the Classroom

Successful Presenters Engage People in a Conversation

June 6, 2016 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Infographics, Nervousness, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, The Orderly Conversation

engagement infographic draft aAs a presenter, when you are engaged in the conversation, you are connected to your thoughts and externally focused on the people you are speaking with.

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know that some presenters are NOT engaged in the process. Not only are their presentations hard to listen to, they also make it difficult to get business done.

Disengagement results in a lot of things. Increased nervousness, a fast speaking pace, loss of personality, and extreme self-consciousness are all common. Regardless of how it’s manifested, as a member of their audience, you can sense a presenter’s discomfort. And that pulls you out of the conversation that should be taking place and slows business down.

So what, then, does it mean to be engaged and how do you achieve it?

Let’s start by altering the opening sentence of the infographic. As a DINNER COMPANION, when you are engaged in the conversation, you are connected to your thoughts and externally focused on the FRIENDS you are speaking with.

As I’m sure you’ve experienced, it’s easy to be engaged at dinner with friends. You enjoy the people you’re speaking with, the conversation is lively, and you have no problem leading portions of the conversation, telling stories, listening, contributing, answering questions, and clarifying.

As the infographic shows, when we’re engaged, we’re externally focused on the people we’re speaking with. We’re able to think on our feet and take control of the conversation. When we’re really clicked in, our self-awareness improves and we’re able to manage the twists and turns of the conversation.

Two Primary Skills: Pausing and Eye Contact

There are two primary skills we use every day, and we’re so used to them that we don’t even think about them. In everyday conversation, we naturally pause to gather our thoughts, and our breathing is entirely involuntary. Eye contact comes naturally as well. We’re constantly checking in with the people we’re speaking with; we look for their reactions and respond accordingly. This lively give and take is a necessary element to communicating effectively, and we’re able to do it because of these two very basic skills.

Pausing and eye contact must also be used during presentations. But because the stakes are higher and there’s work to be accomplished, they are often inadvertently ignored. This is why it’s important to be intentional about their use. For many, this is easier said than done. But for a disengaged presenter, it’s only through the intentional use of pausing and eye contact that you’ll be able to settle into the conversation and get business done.

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

Join Greg at ATD International Conference & Expo!

May 18, 2016 in News, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Talent Development, The Orderly Conversation

Are you heading to the ATD (Association for Talent Development) International Conference & Exposition May 22-25, 2016?

Join Greg Sunday, May 22 at 1:30 for The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined.

For Leaders Who Expect Better Communication from Employees: 5 Ways to Achieve It

April 18, 2016 in Delivery, Facilitation, Greg Owen-Boger, Meetings, Posts for Buyers, Preparation, Training

2 levelsAs a leader, you expect your employees’ business communication to be effective and efficient. But is it?

Too often, it’s not. (I’ve written about the business implications here.)  However, it doesn’t have to be that way. To be effective and efficient, business interactions must succeed on two levels. Helping your employees understand this concept is the first step toward improving their communication,  whether it takes place during meetings, presentations, training sessions, important one-on-ones, informal hallway discussions, and even voicemails, instant messaging, and email.

The first level of success is easy for employees to understand. It’s about achieving the goal—being clear, concise, and persuasive enough so that others buy, agree, align, or learn.

The second level is also easy to understand, but more challenging to master. This level is about skillfully managing the process so that a fruitful conversation takes place and business gets done. This level is about ease and efficiency.

5 elements contribute to the second level of success.

1. Create the conditions for a fruitful conversation
Business rarely gets done through one-way communication. It requires a rich dialogue and conclusions drawn from multiple points of view. This means that the leader of the conversation must find ways to encourage others to contribute. This is more than saying, “Please ask questions,” or “What do you think?” It’s about creating a safe environment for people to share their thoughts freely and without judgment. Empathy, silence, and good listening all play a role.

2. Establish context
It’s common for people to show up to a meeting or presentation not knowing why they were invited or what they’re supposed to accomplish. Effective communicators establish context from the very beginning. They explain (even when it seems obvious) why the meeting has been called, what they’re trying to accomplish, and what’s led the group to this point already. Here’s an example: “Thanks for joining the meeting today. As we all know, we have a problem in the supply chain. Our goal today is to understand the variables so that we can fix the problem and get the manufacturing floor back up and running quickly.” Sometimes the context is mundane, but important to establish nonetheless. “Good Monday morning. Welcome to the staff meeting. There’s a lot going on this week, and I want to make sure we’re all ready for what’s coming. Let’s get started.”

3. Earn trust and goodwill
Nobody wants to go to another meeting where they feel their time is wasted. Over time, the leader of these meetings can chew through an awful lot of trust and goodwill. “Not Larry again…” If you feel a direct report is turning into a Larry, address it swiftly. Explain that time is money, and that their disorganization is causing frustration.

4. Make it easy for colleagues to participate in the conversation
Making decisions isn’t always easy, but the process of making them doesn’t have to be confusing. Likewise, a team update shouldn’t be difficult to follow. Every meeting needs structure and clarity. Agendas should be used. Supporting documents should be clear. Graphics should be clearly labeled and easy to grasp. If meeting attendees have to work too hard to understand the basics, they may give up.

5. Manage the give and take of the interaction
Meetings are a process, not a product. This means that the give and take of the conversation is an integral part of them. It also means that meetings can get messy. A little mess is OK. Slogging through the muck can often uncover important discoveries that lead to better outcomes. However, if things get too messy, the goal can get lost and everyone can feel stuck. Employees must learn to strike a balance between allowing too much conversation and controlling it too much. Often, simply acknowledging the situation can help control it, for example, “We’ve talked through a lot of issues, let me summarize so that we can move on.” Another example might be: “You’ve brought up a terrific point, and I think we should talk more about that. We’ve got 20 minutes left, and we still have two more agenda points to cover. Let’s make a group decision. Should we continue down this path, or table it for now so that we can end on time?”

Meetings cannot be perfected. But business shouldn’t grind to a halt because they are poorly facilitated. Using the concepts outlined here will help you coach your team to more effective and efficient communication. [Tweet “Meetings can’t be perfected. But things shouldn’t grind to a halt due to poor facilitation.”]

How else have you solved poor communication at work?

Dale Ludwig, Turpin Communication’s Founder, applied this concept specifically to presentations. Read what he had to say.

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

The Orderly Conversation: 4 Ways to Make Presenting to Leadership Easier

April 11, 2016 in Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Meetings, Posts for Buyers, Preparation, Presentation, Talent Development, The Orderly Conversation, Training




As talent development professionals, it’s essential for us to communicate effectively both inside and outside the training room. Our success and reputation depend on it. Too often—especially when communicating to business leadership—we miss the mark. We might fail to speak the language of the business, frustrating our listeners. Sometimes we’re not as efficient as we should be, wasting others’ time and goodwill.

These problems are not unique to learning and development, of course. But they are especially acute for us because we are always struggling to earn and keep a seat at the leadership table.

This blog post will focus on four things we can do to redefine business presentations and make presenting to leadership easier, more efficient, and more effective.

Read the full article, published April 7, 2016 at

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

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

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.”



2015: What a Year for Turpin and For Our Clients!

January 6, 2016 in News, Posts for Buyers, Talent Development, The Orderly Conversation, Training

Happy New Year!We hope the New Year is off to a good start for you. Before we get too far into 2016, we want to say thanks for making 2015 such a good one for Turpin. We had a lot of client wins, and we’d like to share a few because you might be able to take advantage of them yourself. [Tweet “Thanks for making 2015 such a good year”]

Since Dale and Greg launched The Orderly Conversation in 2014, several clients have asked us to develop highly-tailored sessions to meet their specific business goals. We’ve always tailored our workshops to meet specific needs, but now we’ve made it easier for you to imagine how we can help you meet your goals using the methodologies laid out in the book. The result of this work is more than 20 new outcome-specific workshops focusing on different aspects of business communication. Each falls into one of three categories:

  • Training for Presenters
  • Training for Meeting Facilitators
  • Training for Trainers and Subject Matter Experts

A few examples include:

  • Presenting to leadership & exuding executive presence
  • Speaking at conferences
  • Closing the deal during sales meetings
  • Fostering team collaboration from a distance
  • Working with SMEs in the training room

If you go to our main website ( and roll your mouse over the navigation, you will be able to see the entire catalog.

Also in 2015, Dale focused a lot of energy on executive coaching, working 1-1 with several very smart people to prepare them for high-stakes presentations, and Greg began delivering keynote addresses at conferences, which does a lot to broaden our reach and improve communication across a wide range of client situations.

Finally, there were a couple big milestones this year—Sarah celebrated 10 years with Turpin and Greg rang in his 20th!

Have a great January! All of us at Turpin look forward to the opportunity of working with you in 2016.

Dale, Greg, and the entire Turpin Communication Team

Information overload: How to avoid it when presenting to leadership

December 14, 2015 in Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Meetings, Preparation, Presentation

information overload 12-14-15You’re a detail-oriented person working in a highly technical position. You probably wonder how much detail you should go into when presenting to managers and leaders. You may even have been asked not to go into information overload again.

You’re not alone. This is a topic that comes up a lot in our presentation skills workshops.

First, let’s acknowledge that you’re in this position because your strengths lie in your attention to detail and technical nit-pickery. That’s great, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a natural at communicating higher-level information about what the details mean to the business or the decision that’s being made as a result of the details.

So, just how much detail should you go into? It depends on a lot of factors, but here are two concepts to keep in mind.

Focus on what the details mean to the business, not just the details themselves
When you’re presenting detail-heavy or technical information, keep the big picture in mind. Make the conversation be about what the details mean to the business, rather than what the details are. For example, imagine you’re a financial analyst. You’re presenting the quarterly review to leadership. Your focus should go to the quarter’s key metrics and how they compare to the previous quarter, not the raw numbers by themselves.[Tweet “When presenting, focus on what the details mean, not just the details themselves.”]

Help your audience make a decision
Technical people often present to managers and leaders when there’s a decision to be made. Ask yourself, “How much information will they need in order to make the decision?” Your answer to that question should guide the way. For example, if they’re trying to decide how much capital to hold in reserve for the coming month, you don’t need to go into what all of the upcoming expense are going to be, rather your focus should go to the bottom line figures. If they want detail, they’ll ask.

Don’t get me wrong, the details are important. Without analysis and attention to the details, business would grind to a halt. So always keep in mind that leadership pays you to do two things. The first is to work with the details so that they don’t have to. The second is to make sense of the details so that they can do their jobs.

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