Monday, September 28, 2015

Learn St. Louis | ATD STL 2015 Annual Conference

Early registration deadline is October 5

ATD is the Association for Talent Development ( The Saint Louis chapter hosts a variety of events throughout the year related to all aspects of developing people. They also have a number of free events around specialized skill sets, like a Special Interest Group for Captivate users. You can view all of their events on their website.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Learning Resource: "MindTools" for a better work life

How do you continue to learn in your job?

MindTools ( is a great resource to add to your personal library for learning about all kinds of workplace related skills. Their online library covers a wide variety of topics:
  • Leadership Skills
  • Team Management
  • Strategy Tools
  • Problem Solving
  • Decision Making
  • Project Management
  • Time Management
  • Stress Management
  • Communication Skills
  • Creativity Tools
  • Learning Skills
  • Career Skills
MindTools offers a weekly newsletter with helpful content and resources; it is a great complement to the content that is available to SLU employee's through SkillSoft. Regardless of the resource you choose to use, MindTools is a must to include in your personal library for professional learning.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

9 public-speaking secrets to help you "talk like TED"

From the TED Blog

Ever watch a TED Talk and think, “Wow, that is a phenomenal speaker. How can I be that fantastic?” 

The book Talk like TED: The nine public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds by Carmine Gallo gives you nine insights as to how to emulate the TED Talk speakers’ presentation style.

The book is very organized with three main sections that identify the important areas to consider in your presentation: use emotion, present novel information, and make the presentation memorable.

Here are my takeaways from each of the 9 secrets.

  1. Be passionate. There is a strong emphasis on the need for the speaker to be passionate about their topic. Passion is contagious and without it, it will be hard to inspire your audience.
  2. Tell a story. Storytelling compels the audience to connect with you and it helps the audience agree with you. There are three types of stories discussed:  personal stories, stories about other people, and stories about brand success.
  3. Have a conversation with the audience. To have a conversation takes a lot of practice, as the presenter needs to first internalize the message to be conveyed to the audience. True persuasion happens only after you have developed a rapport with your audience and developed trust.
  4. Share new information. Consider packaging the information differently or providing a new way to solve an old problem.  Remember the human brain loves novelty!
  5. Deliver shocking moments. The best way to do this is to use very concrete and meaningful examples.  The emotion of the event allows the information to persist longer in the brain.
  6. Have some fun. Provide “wow” moments for your audience. These can be props or demos, shocking statistics, images, memorable headlines or personal stories.  Although humor is a risk, humor often makes the audience more receptive to your message and makes you seem more likable. There are several ways to add humor to a presentation including anecdotes, observations, personal stories, analogies and metaphors, quotes, video and photos.
  7. 18 minutes, that’s it! You may not have thought about this but listening is draining and the brain is an energy hog which is why Ted Talks are no more than 18 minutes in length. As quoted in the book, Albert Eisenstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  The author further explains that the rule of three provides a good structure for a presentation. First, create a Twitter friendly headline. Second, support the headline with three key messages. Third, reinforce the three messages with stories, statistics and examples.
  8. People remember three pieces of information really well.  A message conveyed using both words and phrases increases the brain’s ability to create stronger connections and more accurate recall. It is best to use one theme per slide and also paint a picture with the images you show and the words you use.
  9. Be genuine and win people over. Remember, be your authentic self and speak from your heart or the audience will not trust you. Most people can spot a phony. You cannot move people to action without people trusting you.
A presentation is more than just the content. The speaker needs to focus on how the message is conveyed and knowing who is in your audience. The best way to summarize the takeaway message of this book is K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Learn more about Gallo's book here.
About Wendy
Wendy LaBenne is one of the Saint Louis University (SLU) Human Resource Learning and Development Facilitators. She conducts a session on Coaching for Career Development which is focused on assisting managers with having career conversations with their employees. At SLU, she works in the College for Public Health and Social Justice as the Workforce Development Coordinator.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Content Curation: Keeping track of your go-to learning resources

Image from

Keeping your content organized in a way that is useful to you is a challenge given the volume of content we have access to via the internet.

Luckily, many tools have found their way to our computers, tablets, and smart phones that can help us store our favorites. I'd like to share my tools and tips with you!

The tools I use

Over time, my curation process evolved to merge both personal and professional lives.
  • Videos: YouTube. Our office has a YouTube Channel using our generic department account. We use the PlayList feature to curate video content relevant for our programs. This allows us to collaborate as a team and immediate share what we find with others.
  • Books: A personal library program (I haven't used it yet, but plan to). Our office has a number of books, but we are not in the habit of taking them off the shelf to thumb through them for ideas. Most of us go to the internet to browse. Through researching the issue, I found that there is a huge community (primarily of book lovers) who have created different kinds of mostly free, online library programs.
  • Websites, articles, PDFs: Evernote. I have had a personal Evernote account for a long time, and while my account is not shared with my colleagues, I use it to curate content that I find helpful for work.

Strategies for using these tools successfully

  1. What do you want to curate? Take stock of the types of resources you gravitate toward to help you filter which tools are less or more helpful to you.
  2. What do you want to do with the resources?
    1. If you want to collaborate and share them easily with others, look at the features to confirm you can share them.
    2. Check to see if the programs are web-based (meaning you can online access them through an internet browser), downloadable to your computer, and/or mobile friendly and include an app.
  3. How much do you want to spend? Many of these tools are free, but depending on your needs and passions, you may find it helpful to upgrade.
  4. How do you mentally organize and associate your resources? What makes the tools helpful is their capacity to help you save and then easily access your content. Most of this is predicated upon a tagging (or "labeling") system. Your tagging system may evolve over time, but do give some thought into #3 to help you create an initial structure. Here is an example help article about this topic from Evernote.

Sources for content curation tools

A quick google search for "content curation tools" will yield lots of articles with lists of tools. The number and kind of tools available will keep growing. Look for patterns across any lists you see for tools that are recommended by many. If you find one tool that seems promising, but not quite right, google the name of the tool and "alternatives" to see what others have recommended as a replacement or competitor.

It's never too late to curate!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Resource(s) for Free Video Content: RSA

Finding good video content can be a challenge.

A video content resource to add to your list: the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) located in the United Kingdom. Their mission is:
The mission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is to enrich society through ideas and action. (
They do this through many means, including research, events, and wonderful videos on all sorts of topics. Their videos range from quick shorts to longer 10-15 minute talks. Check out their video archive here.

Here is a sample video: Brene Brown on Empathy.

HR Learning & Development on YouTube

Are you interested in using videos in your workshops like the one mentioned above? Learning & Development curates video content found on YouTube. You can subscribe to our You Tube Channel to check out our sources and playlists.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Shy Facilitator: 13+ Strategies for overcoming your anxieties in front of a group

Image from:

When you facilitate a workshop or are presenting in front of a group, most people feel an adrenaline rush and possibly a wave of nerves.

If you identify as shy, you may also be thinking "will they like me?" or "what should I say to people if they get here early?" Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci, from Indiana University Southeast, runs a Shyness Institute. He defines shyness not as social anxiety, but a focus on self-doubt and evaluation. (You can read an interview he did with PsychCentral here to learn more.)

While you may be able to put on your "game face" once the session starts, sometimes we need some help to get ready and stay focused. I recently read a brief article with 13 tips for overcoming shyness generally, and wanted to add my own for facilitators. Here's my list of strategies for overcoming shyness when you're facilitating:
  1. Envision yourself facilitating at your best. Athletes use visualization to help prepare for a game. It's helpful for facilitators too! If you have mentally rehearsed your session as the best performance you've ever done then you can tell yourself "This is easy. I've already done this once." If that doesn't work, you can always, fake it, until you make it (watch this).
  2. Give yourself time to be prepared. Plan to wrap up all of your final edits to your materials 2 days before, and then print any of your handouts the day before your session. Test any electronics 2 days before (make sure the batteries work in your clicker!). Staggering your prep allows you to focus on your presence of mind and not a last minute paper jam in the copier.
  3. Show up early to your session. Show up a half hour beforehand to set up and calm down. Set up your space so you can easily access your notes.
  4. Play the role of host with your participants when they arrive. Adopting the mindset of "host" gives you a role to play as people arrive. It helps to refocus your attention on making others feel comfortable rather than attention on yourself. What should you talk about? Comment on the situation. Examples "What other sessions have you attended?", "What interested you in today's session?", "What department are you from?", etc. And, it is ok if folks are not super chatty. Sometimes people want a few minutes of quiet before a session, too.
  5. Be the host throughout your session, too. If it helps, keep the mental role of "host" throughout your entire workshop. Think of yourself as a "host" to their learning experience to minimize your focus of attention on yourself.
  6. Keep your critique objective. A review of the session is helpful; however, if you're inclined to paint your experience as a failure, consider using a structured approach. A "continue, start, stop" method is helpful for identifying what went well and should be continued, what new ideas you have and want to start or add, and lastly what you could stop doing and cut out.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Free Professional Development Event for Facilitators: June 30th! (and learn about ATD)

(Logo from the ATD STL chapter site)

Connect with Facilitators across Saint Louis!

The Association of Talent Development (ATD) Saint Louis chapter is hosting an event to form a Facilitator's Special Interest Group (SIG).

Registration is free and you do not need to be a member to attend.

When: 30 June 2015 from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Location: Anheuser-Busch Biergarten, South 12th and Lynch Street, St. Louis, MO 63118

Click here for more event details and to register.

What is ATD?
"The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The association was previously known as the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD)."
The ATD national website has a number of (mostly free) educational resources to support your development. While their focus is on talent development, the concepts and resources they share are applicable to support anyone who is creating or facilitating learning experiences.