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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Use Graphics Wisely: Questions to help build up your visual literacy skills

Image from: Veer via Edutopia

We want any visuals that accompany our work to work for us, not against us.

Cultivating an understanding of how visuals support learning is a skill that can be developed. I recently read an article by Blair Rorani titled Visual Literacy for Project Teams in the Austrialian Training and Development Magazine that introduced me to the term of "visual literacy".

Visual literacy is the ability to understand and communicate with visuals. Visuals can be an effective way for connecting with an audience and conveying a concept. I've posted before about the power of visuals and graphics in learning (Graphics for Learning and 3 elearning websites to follow to learn about graphics).

The ability to communicate effectively with visuals is like a muscle that requires exercise. The exercises to develop include the conceptual ability to imagine ideas as images and then the technical skill to create an image.

Blair's short article provides a process that helps with developing your conceptual abilities. He breaks the process into three parts: people (who is affected by the process), places (where does this occur), and things (what objects are included). You could use his questions to help identify visual components that connect to your topic. Consider creating a mind map to help you brainstorm answers to the questions. You then can use your ideas to help you create or collect relevant graphics for your presentation or handouts.

Check out Rorani's blog with lots of others short essays about instructional design and how to create meaningful learning experiences.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Take Stock: What do you believe to be true about learning? (AND a free online course to help you figure it out!)

Image from:

What do you believe to be true about learning?

Theorists have long discussed and wrestled with the process of learning and formed various schools of thought over the years (you can read about the core paradigms of learning theory here). Wherever you are in your theoretical knowledge of learning, you have ideas of what motivates and engages people to learn and how you like to engage others. Typically, when you formulate these ideas into a statement, you may refer to it as your "teaching and learning philosophy". Within academia and K-12 education you will find many resources for writing such a statement (here or here). Taking stock of what you believe helps to identify opportunities for growth and celebration.

In addition to the resources shared above, you may consider a free course from EdX (a free online course creator, like Coursera) called "Leaders of Learning" designed by Richard Elmer from Harvard University's graduate school of education. This course is relevant to this conversation as it seeks to engage learners to identify their own theory of learning and compare it to the current and future learning landscape for education and organizations. Taking stock of where we are and where we are headed helps us to make strategic choices about the present.

Take stock of your current belief system using the resources shared here. What do you believe about learning? How can you remain relevant and future-focused with your ideas and efforts?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Free, online class: Introduction to Public Speaking

Do you want to develop your public speaking skills?

Coursera is an online repository for courses designed and facilitated by faculty from Universities all over the world. They have an open course on public speaking, which covers impromptu, informative, and persuasive speaking by Dr. Matt Garrity from the University of Washington. Check out the class here.

How could this benefit you?

Impromptu speaking: When you're facilitating a group, you never know what questions will come up. Practicing impromptu comments will help you feel confident that you can respond on the fly.

Informative speaking: Informative speaking could be another term for "lecture". Any time you are explaining or describing a concept, you are informing your audience.

Persuasive speaking: The opening moments of a class are when you want to hook your audience. Persuasive speaking can be used to motivate and energize your group to be fully present for the class.

Check out the class! Share what you've gleaned from the content by emailing me at

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What is your facilitation style?

What is your facilitation style? How do you see yourself in the role of facilitator?

My personal teaching philosophy is that people learn through collaboration, reflection, and real life experiences. To that end, I see myself as a facilitator of a learning experience and design my learning experiences to heavily use interactive strategies like small group discussion, individual reflection time, and real-world problems to solve. While I value my own competence and expertise on a subject, I value more allowing learners to intentionally examine their previous experiences against new ideas.

In short, I view any class I teach as a "workshop" and most of the time, I want to "get out of the way" of the participants' learning.

What do you believe about your role in the classroom?

A resource to help you think about this: Grasha's teaching styles.

Grasha describes four different teaching styles:

  1. Expert/Formal Authority
  2. Personal Model
  3. Facilitator
  4. Delegator
Take his short quiz to discover your style. Read more from his book Teaching with Style. Each style has its strengths and challenges. You may have a primary style, however, developing other styles allows you to flex, when needed, to meet the needs of your learners.

Taking some time to reflect on your beliefs and values as a facilitator allows you to be more aware of the choices you make in the design of your session and the environment you create with your presence.