Thursday, August 27, 2009

Find Your 20%

I see lots of good-presentations-gone bad, often due to the speaker trying to put too much information into the available time. The result: Critical points are lost in the mass of content, or the speaker is rushing at the end to get to what s/he really wanted to say.

Often in coaching presenters I watch them approach their content as if they were 8th graders assigned to give a report on their "topic". They visit Wikipedia and Google and clip art galleries to amass piles of information, factoids, job aids, video clips, and PowerPoint shows, then try to compress it into a 75-minute session.

Here's a model I like to use in developing my own presentations, and in helping others develop theirs. The trick: rather than starting from a lot of information and finding a way to deliver it in the available time (the result: lecture + bulleted slides), find your critical "20%". What are the 2 or 3 key takeaways? If I ran into your attendee 2 weeks from now, what would they say were your 2 key points?

In other words: Using this model, start in the middle and work your way out:

Remember: Design is done when there's nothing left to take out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Better than Bullet Points

Hundreds of people joined me for a whirlwind tour of my second book, Better than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging E-Learning with PowerPoint. The session, hosted by the Training Magazine Network, came down to this: Plenty of horrible e-learning has been created with expensive tools. Good e-learning is about thoughtful design, not software.

Articulate's Tom Kuhlmann offers this example of an e-learning tutorial created with PowerPoint. It's based on the great "Frog Guts" high-school-biologyg simulation, so be warned about the content.

For those who missed the session, Cammy Bean was kind enough to offer a concise recap on her "Learning Visions" blog.

I'll be offering the extended version of the"Better than Bullet Points" program for Training Live + Online Events beginning on September 9.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What Do You Care About?

I lost a dear mentor on Thursday. Colleen Aalsburg Wiessner, Ph.D., died suddenly while on vacation with her family. She was one of the kindest, gentlest souls I have ever known, and the loss to her family and to the learning community is immeasurable.

Above all she was a teacher, one of perhaps only a few true teachers I have ever known. Teaching was not her job; it was her work and her purpose and her joy. In her own words, from the NC State University website: "Inclusive, affective, collaborative, participatory, critical, and developmental are six words that describe my approach to teaching. I seek to create learning communities with my students, settings in which we can question, reflect, laugh, challenge and grow in our roles as educators. I enjoy infusing the arts and other creative approaches in my learning designs. As Paulo Freire, I believe teachers are also learners and learners are also teachers."

One of my fondest memories of Colleen took place several years ago when I was a student in her "Introduction to Qualitative Research" course. She asked us to take out a blank sheet of paper and said we had a short writing assignment. She paused and asked us to answer the question, "What do you care about?"

My answer to that stuck with me through the rest of my graduate studies, kept me focused on my dissertation topic each time it threatened to derail, and now helps me steer through job challenges when I sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture of my work.

So I ask you: What do you care about?