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A Reflection on Inclusive Presentations: 4 Practical Strategies for Being an Active Ally

Something’s been bothering me, weighing heavy on my heart and mind. If you know me well, you likely already know that I cry at commercials and feel intense empathy when in conversation with another human. I’m instantly joyous with you, yet easily moved to tears…even during a presentation, which happened recently.

During my workshops, we often discuss presenters and their ability to connect with their audience. We talk about strategies for building relationships with our audience.

As presenters, some are quite naturally able to connect with audiences. They bring passion, they seek to understand, they aim to help. I’ve seen shiftED alum and some of you present to audiences, and I’ve witnessed time and again how you connect with your audiences of one or many, in person or online.

I observe and I learn. Always. Wanting to do better.

A perpetual student of the process.

The participant who welled up my eyes this past week pointed to the one-on-one...

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Minimum Requirements for Online Live Presentations

techniques tips webinars Mar 29, 2020

I am often asked about the technology that I use for my online courses and, as happened during last week's webinar on this topic, am sometimes met with surprised reactions for the simplicity of my setup. 

I’ve been presenting webinars and online live training sessions for more than 17 years and I’ve used many platforms and applications, and a variety of equipment, in that time. While some online content lends itself to more complex setups, such as virtual computer labs for enterprise-wide hands-on technology training, fancier and more expensive is not always better (or necessary).

My aim with my clients who are delving into the online learning space is to start with simple.

Are you exploring online live sessions?

Are you rapidly adapting your classroom learning events into the online space?

Are you wondering what minimum requirements will allow you to quickly launch, without breaking the bank?

Let me offer insight into what I use for...

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Optimizing Online Learning - After the Event

In two previous blog posts, I shared tips for optimizing the online learning experience before the learning event takes place as well as during the actual learning event. If you present online to groups of participants within your organization, there are strategies within this series of three blog posts for increasing adoption rates during firm-wide policy rollouts or technology implementations or other internal training initiatives. If you are a business owner or consultant and you present online to your clients, you might find a nugget or three for maximizing audience engagement and ensuring your objectives are met.

Whether you present online within your organization or beyond, seek to understand your specific audience's preferences then apply best practices and only the very latest research on teaching and learning.  

In this post, as with the others, you'll find a few ideas for optimizing the online learning experience for your...

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Hosting a Holiday Party? Here are 7 Practical Tips for Speaking at Your Event

It’s that time of year during which we experience an increase in social gatherings for comrades, colleagues, and clients. For those organizing or hosting holiday parties, there is an added responsibility of speaking at these events to, for example, welcome partygoers or introduce the entertainment.

Whether you are speaking at a formal event or a casual get-together, here are a few practical tips for rockin’ the mic:

  1. Embrace the spotlight early. There is no need to wait for every single person who confirmed attendance to arrive. People may arrive late, leave early, or, for various reasons, not show up at all. No matter the duration of your event, it may be helpful to consider it in segments. If the last part is a wind-down and when fatigue (or alcohol) could alter the dialogue or concentration, the middle is the peak where most conversations and socializing happens - neither of these slots will garner the attentiveness of your audience. The first segment, then,...
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3 Considerations for Being a Confident Presenter (Even When You Don't Feel Like One!)

Sometimes I have the pleasure of coaching a client who is absolutely paralyzed at the thought of public speaking. Don’t get me wrong, I do not get pleasure from their paralysis; rather, I enjoy helping them work through their roadblocks and witnessing their transformations into more confident speakers. 

It is excruciatingly difficult for some to consider stepping into the spotlight. The sweaty palms, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dry mouth, and sheer terror can be debilitating.

What advice do I give them?

First, I don’t give any. I listen.

I ask questions. I enquire about their potential audience, their content, their expertise. I try to understand their concerns, their fears, their past experiences. I ask for clarity on their goals, their aspirations.

I ask them to explain what success looks like. I want to know what being a confident speaker means to them.

Before I can help someone prepare for an upcoming presentation, whether they have a date and...

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Embedding YouTube Videos in PowerPoint? Nope!

Perhaps you are preparing to present to your board of directors and found a compelling video to illustrate your point. Or maybe you are readying for a job interview and want to impress your interviewers with a catchy clip that would leave them smiling. Or, you're ramping up an opening keynote for a conference with an anticipated audience of a thousand people and found the sounds of a groovy avant-garde ensemble for energizing the crowd.

Plan A.

You know your stuff. You create a slick slide deck, add the video, and then test it in presenter mode. Bingo. The video plays at the exact moment you expect. You then practice the slide show dozens of times in advance of the big day, nailing the timing and your content precisely during your final runthroughs.

Now, it's game day. You're in the spotlight. You're rockin' the podium. You have your audience fully engaged, nodding heads, leaning forward, inquisitive brows - energized participants anticipating your next move and hanging on to your...

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Optimizing Online Learning - During the Event

In a previous blog post, I talked about a few planning and design strategies for optimizing the online learning experience. Following that, I received emails and direct messages from people who were either considering implementing an online program or had done so and wanted to refine their process.

Some asked about maximizing engagement and minimizing their audience’s tendency for multi-tasking. Others challenged my best practices (which I love, by the way), suggesting they wouldn’t work with their particular audiences – my reaction is, consistently, “you know your audience better than I do, but let’s hold off on saying it won’t work until after you’ve tried it, okay?”

Fact is, some strategies will work better with certain audiences. There are differences with respect to facilitating an online workshop for a small internal team in comparison with a public webinar. What I mean by that is, let’s say you are talking...

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3 Gamification Tools for Audience Engagement

If you are a subject matter expert with an audience, you already know that engaging with the people in front of you is a critical part of the social learning experience. And if you are teaching others, this engagement also serves to increase retention rates for your participants.

While there are bucketloads of methods for inviting participation, your options and choice will often depend on the size of your group, the purpose of your presentation, the audience composition, the time allotted, and your venue, to name a few. For example, if your presentation is in a large theatre or auditorium with an audience of 300 and you have been offered 10 minutes on stage, you wouldn’t necessarily opt for audience engagement that involves moving about the room – theatre-style row seating and the timing do not lend themselves well for that freedom of movement, although it can certainly be done.

But what if bums are firmly planted?

Does that mean you can’t engage the...

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Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

Let me guess, almost half of you have made new year’s resolutions: promises to yourself about losing weight, eating healthy, getting more sleep and being more financially responsible.

We humans just love to use the calendar year as a reset button to jog ourselves into new habits. The trouble is, we generally don’t put much effort into how we plan to stick to the promises we make to ourselves and to others. We have good intentions, and even greater desires, but without making the time to formulate a real plan for achieving our goals, they often fall flat. In a hurry.

I was told at a cocktail party last year that there is a 10% dropout rate for resolutions by the second week of January. I’m not sure to which research the person was referencing, but if that trend trickles through the rest of the year, we’ll have all failed well before the year is out!

What I find particularly troubling with this disastrous figure is that many of us make the same resolution year...

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3 Practical Strategies for Getting Recognized as a Subject Matter Expert

You know your stuff. Get recognized for it! But, wait. What’s that thud? Oh, your internal dialogue shutting the door on your dreams.

I’ll let you in a little secret. Our internal voices can be jerks.

Those voices may tell you that someone else knows more than you do and could speak about (insert your subject matter here) at a broader or deeper level than you. And, they might be right. But, why let that stop you from sharing what you know? Just because someone else is an authority on something, it doesn’t mean you are not knowledgeable.

But that inner voice whispers repeatedly that you don’t belong at a podium; that, if you find yourself in front of an audience or promoted to a higher level of responsibilty, ‘they’ will soon discover that you don’t know as much as they think you do.

If this sounds familiar, you might be suffering from what psychologists refer to as ‘imposter syndrome.’  Don’t worry,...

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