Next open-enrolment for the Presentation Booster Program: Fall 2019.

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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 recent cocktail party 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 December!

What I find particularly troubling with this disastrous figure is that many of us make the same resolution year over 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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Optimizing Online Learning

I started my formal presentation experience, as many others, in boardrooms, classrooms and group settings, and then later, as technology advanced, in the online space. 15 years ago, I helped launch the Canadian operations of a global human capital management software company into the world of online facilitation.

At that time, we began delivering synchronous interactive webinars and virtual facilitator-led computer classroom sessions. It was pretty cool to watch attendees engage in actual hands-on activities as if in a physical computer lab. The facilitator could basically ‘walk’ around the virtual classroom and literally watch the participants perform a series of tasks on software programs they did not yet have on their own computers, all through the magic of technology. I immediately appreciated how that technology helped people learn using non-traditional methods and in an incredibly powerful and accessible manner.

I trained and mentored facilitators across...

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Embrace Your Competition. They Are Your Ally, Not Your Adversary.

Subject matter experts or SMEs.

If you are one, you likely know others in your field who share your knowledge base. Your contemporaries might be well-known and respected superstars with tenure and a massive fan-base, or they may be junior staff with few connections who are thirsty for mentoring, or, perhaps, they are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. In any case, being a SME, in whatever your industry, can surface feelings of competition with those who play in your sandbox.  

Whether we are competing for a cut of the annual allocated wage increase for our department, or vying for the same potential client, our fellow SMEs might induce us to step up our game and polish our natty ways. And that’s healthy. We should always try to be our best selves, right?

I appreciate that not everyone feels this way.

During a recent networking event, I suggested that I’d like to connect a SME with another in their area of expertise – I’ll call...

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Viva La PowerPoint!

Last week, a subject matter expert in the marketing and social media industry asked for my advice on presentation software for a course they are developing. They were hesitant about using Microsoft’s PowerPoint application and were looking for alternatives, having heard about the phenomenon commonly known as Death by PowerPoint.

To be sure, there are alternatives.

And concerns about this horrible affliction are valid. Many of us have fallen victim to the condition.

There are countless articles and online commentary, books, even comedic videos and cartoon depictions for the ghastly ennui that plagues so many seminars.

Presentation decks with text-heavy slides and the ineffective use of display settings, animations, and transitions, paired with a facilitator who then feels obliged to read each slide, word for word, can elicit participant boredom and downright disengagement.

But PowerPoint doesn’t have to be a ‘death’ sentence.

In fact, I love it....

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Need (FREE) Pictures For Your Presentation? Avoid Getting Sued With These Practical Tips.

Research has proven time and again that incorporating imagery is beneficial for learning. Because of that, and the ease with which we can access a vast array of creative work, presentations often show up on screen with pictures and graphics.

So, we agree? Presenting with visuals is good?

Good. End of blog.

Wait, what’s this now? You freely use whatever images you find online? They’re in the public domain and no one will ever know if you use them, you say, so what’s the big deal?

Lawyers, photographers, graphic designers, and other subject matter experts inform that you may be delving into the world of copyright infringement. And that’s kind of a big deal.

Let’s be honest. You cannot simply search Google for images and haphazardly copy them into your presentation slide deck. Well, technically, you can, but you shouldn’t. It’s illegal.

Whaaa…aaa…aat?! Copyright infringement is against the law?

Yes. 

Open Google, and search...

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3 Simple Networking Strategies That Will Make You a People Magnet

In those first few precious seconds of meeting someone new, they have already made dozens of assumptions about you.

Some of them might even be accurate.

Our amygdala, that part of our brain responsible for fight-or-flight, is wired to make decisions about our surroundings before our sensible thoughts can catch up. We immediately decide whether we like someone or whether we want to run away from them. We subconsciously calculate personal risks to our wellbeing and forecast various hypothetical scenarios in our minds based on very little information. Because of that, according to a large body of scientific research, our first impressions are most often inaccurate.

If people we meet are drawing conclusions about who we are and what we are like, wouldn’t you agree that it’s important to increase self-awareness of our non-verbal signals, our body language and facial expressions?  

At a networking event, attendees are sizing up folks in the crowd,...

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What's Your First Question?

As creators and curators of content, we trainers (read: all terms associated with, including presenters, facilitators, performance professionals, learning advocates, instructors, teachers, keynote speakers, talent developers, subject matter experts, etc.) tend to amass a hefty toolkit of tips and tricks over the years – some by trial and error, some gleaned from others.

Recently, one of my contemporaries asked me on Twitter to contribute a tip. The one he shared, I thought, was brilliant, suggesting tiny reminder notes written in pencil on flip charts that only the facilitator can see. Not only does this ease the pressure on recall, it’s a better option than index cards which can find themselves out of order…on the floor.

I thought back to my first plunge at the podium in 1995. During that inaugural inexperience, I spoke matter-of-factly, stuck to the slated points, peered over the crowd to feign eye-contact, and moved efficiently from open to topic to...

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The Artful Pause

Scenario A: You are attending a workshop and the facilitator glances passively to the audience, asks for questions; then, after a second or two of silence, moves immediately to the next topic.

Scenario B: You are attending a workshop and the facilitator asks for questions, to which s/he receives multiple participant responses.

 

So, what is happening in Scenario A to illicit no response? Possibly a host of things, but likely timing. In my experience, and with due respect to Scenario A attendees, they quite likely don’t even know if they have a question within the allowable two-second timeframe. That’s the reality of our cerebral capacity.

There is a lot going on during the learning process. Learning is not simply depositing knowledge in a memory bank or neatly stacking the library shelves of our minds. There is, instead, this entangled web of synapses firing in multi-directional waves. A sea of information mixing into itself.

Brown, Roediger and McDaniel (2014) talk...

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