ATD Euopean Summit conference

This is a “storify” type blog post with tweets I’ve curated from the ATD European Conference that took place on December 13th and 14th 2017 in Amsterdam.

I was due to be there, but sadly had to cancel. However I took advantage of the #ATDme hashtag on Twitter and got involved via the back channel.

Rather than adding my comments on this blog, I’ve tweeted them and curated my own tweets (which is a bit weird…). I’ve also updated this a couple of times with tweets from further conversations that have come up!

This looks like a long blog post, but it’s quick to read as it’s lots of tweets and pictures. Perhaps add your thoughts to the individual tweets, the hashtag or in the comments below.

 

In the beginning

 

Future of learning and work

 

Learning Transfer

 

Neuroscience panel discussion

 

Employee agility

 

70:20:10

 

Workplace learning

 

 

Inspiring end of the day!

 

And some lovely comments, thank you!

Webinar World Conference learning points

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ON24 is a webinar based marketing platform. Each year they host a large event celebrating and understanding everything Webinar based. They use the the hashtag #Webinarworld and a world all about webinars was exactly what I got from the day!

The event was held for one day in London on the 12th October 2017 and you can get all the details here.

Speakers and agenda

With a huge array of talent on display it was hard narrowing down my choices for who I wanted to see, as is usually the case at conferences.

The agenda was ram packed with great sounding seminar based events, as you would expect there were lots of sessions for how to market your webinars and others for keeping up a high level of engagement with repeat signups.

Session 1 – Driving Webinar Registration

With Lightbulb Moment running free webinars the title of this event was exactly what I was looking for. The speaker was Mark Bornstein @4markb the Vice President of Content Marketing at ON24.

I chatted with Mark after the session and you can see the periscope recording in this tweet!

The session was full of really useful information for getting people into your webinars in the first place, such as having a longer marketing campaign leading up to your webinar. This is something at we need to do better at Lightbulb Moment, as we’ve only really focused the week leading to the webinar. Learning point one already!

Another great tip to actually get people to finish the process of showing interest and click register is to reduce the form length to sign up. Other ideas included having a video on the sign up page.

Some quick notes on what I got from the session:

  • Title of the webinar should be action oriented
    • e.g. How to / 10 common <topic> mistakes / 5 best practices to xxx / 7 keys to successful xxx
  • Email subject line – should be promotional and not just the name of the webinar
    • Could be disruptive / specific need / promise change / tease or titilate / short and concise / read well and phonetically interesting / feel personal
  • Always a day of webinar promotional email for 25% of your signups (not the same as the link reminder email)

The session was great and I was filled with positive plans to take away. It was a pleasure to speak to Mark after the session. If you did not see the live video interview above I recommend you do, it was a really interesting chat from an expert.

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Session 2 – Buying Cycle

Once again with Mark Bornstein. This time he was taking the next step from getting people on your webinars to getting them to buy what you are selling.

He spoke a lot about your funnel of customers. That’s a newer piece of marketing terminology for some people and refers to the people you have from vaguely aware of you through to about to sign on the dotted line. You have different levels of potential customer in that funnel.

There were strategies for where to start when thinking about designing your first webinar campaign. I’ve been running lots of different webinars and speaking at conferences and that gave a starting point, it’s still hard even with that!

I came away with quickfire understanding of not just having a funnel, terminology I’m using much more now, but understanding the different levels people might be at in my funnel plus how to keep current clients engaged.

Session 3 – Webinar Driven Campaign

Lev Cribb was the speaker for this session and was bringing his experience in marketing.

The session was a real mixed bag, the speaker obviously had a lot of experience, knowledge and passion but I found it hard to follow his message.

What was also interesting was the lack of tweets about this session. Is that because there was a lot of interesting information and data that people did not get a chance to tweet or was it that they felt there was not much to tweet?

Closing session – future of webinars

All in all a great day, lots of learning and I look forward to next year!

Crash course in flexible working from home

All my adult life I have worked in “normal” employment. When I was younger often this was part time, sometimes split or strange working shifts. As I got older this changed to full time, 9-5 or a variation of it. This had been the norm for a long time and then it all changed.

I changed jobs and started to work from home!

Shock to the system

I awoke on the first day of my new job, I put on some jeans and a t-shirt, went into my kitchen for tea and breakfast, I then went back to my room and sat down at my desk for work… It was bizarre and felt alien to me.

Environment

Due to having lodgers I couldn’t dedicate a room in my house to be an office. The desk in my bedroom was where I would be working from.

However my bedroom is the place where I escaped from a long day at work: it is my Netflix cave; my gym; it has my computer and I have escaped reality for many an hour in a computer game or watching so many YouTube videos you wonder how on earth you got to watching a about a cow singing the national anthem. This was rarely a place for focusing my mind on business and work issues.

This was the first big hurdle I felt I had to deal with. I got a new desk, larger and less cluttered. I made space for work items and decluttered all non-work items so that they were out of sight whilst I was “at work”. I made a new user profile on my PC for work and spent some time pinning programs, getting shortcuts setup and making my PC more like the computer I had in my previous work place.

Work environment

When working ‘normally’, many people don’t think about the full social construct of what it means to be “at” work. You are hard wired to be in work mode: with work colleagues and expected to be professional. In my case I would be wearing business clothes and using a computer just for work. I acted differently around my work colleagues and had a different mindset.

Colleagues might chat away about non-work items but not to an extreme amount. Most of the time I was ready for a business conversation or meetings. I was at work and in work mode.

The ring of Gyges

If you want to become invisible and effectively do anything you want without being caught then the ring of Gyges is the tool for that job! Plato the Greek philosopher used the story of the ring to ask about human nature.

Generally we are good people and do good things, or at least not bad things. Do we do this just because people can see us and will judge us? If we could do whatever we want and not get caught, would our actions be the same or somewhat more nefarious, as the story suggests?

This is how I felt when I first started working from home. I had the ring on! I had given myself tasks that needed to be completed but nobody was going to look disapprovingly if I picked up my phone and went on Facebook; ask me to turn off the sound on a YouTube video; or complain that my lunch break, instead of being 60 minutes, had started to become two or three Netflix episodes long (don’t watch Breaking Bad on your lunch break when you work from home…).

If you have never worked from home or for yourself before then try and imagine the next time you are in the office, what you would be doing if you had the ring of Gyges on? Would you look at those funny Facebook notifications more often? When you felt a bit distracted would you just go do something else for a bit? Would you turn up at work at all?

Motivation and drive

If I was lying I would say it took me a week to get over the ring of Gyges issue. More truthful would be two weeks and more accurately would likely be three weeks!

I am not trying to scare anyone thinking of doing what I have done but I am giving an account of how I felt and the mindset I needed to change and overcome to be productive. You might be very different to myself and on day one might be there, I am suggesting it might take some time to settle into this.

It took me three weeks to realise there was no ring of Gyges, it was just me, I was stopping myself from working. Perhaps I just needed the novelty of my Breaking Bad siesta sessions to get old but it is something to consider and delve into your own personality and traits.

Work when you want and how you want

Now the good bits! For example, I decided to do this blog at about four in the afternoon – I thought about it a bit but couldn’t really start it.

My creative brain had switched off and so I decided to switch off, I went out for a walk, saw a friend, had dinner and then returned home. I would have loved to see my old bosses if I walked out of work over an hour early and just said, “going home, not feeling creative”.

I got home at about 7.45pm and sat back at my desk, spent some time going through my emails and then had some ideas for this blog and others. I got an outline for a few of them ready and 9.15 came round so I decided to call it, I know I am more creative in the morning and would use the outline I had done to work from when I got up.

I have started to realise when I work best and when I don’t, when I can be productive in different situations and work around that. This is something in “normal” work that can be very hard or impossible to achieve.

To take the plunge or not?

I can’t answer that question for you, the only person who can is you and even then, you might not be able to answer until you are in the position and see how you react to it.

I can honestly say after a shaky start and, I will be honest – a few days, *ahem* weeks – where it can slip and be hard to motivate yourself, in the long run I would never go back. I can now balance my life and work how I see fit within reason. Of course there are busy times but you know you can take time elsewhere when it becomes available.

When you get into the zone and work your socks off, it’s for you and by you. It’s not because some overlord has told you to do so.

If you are thinking of taking the plunge, I wish you well. If you aren’t in that position perhaps you can take some comfort that you might still be in the best place for you.

Free online courses – actual content or blatant sales?

ecommerce-2140604_960_720I recently signed up for a live online webinar-based free course. It’s delivered over twelve sessions and boasted plenty of interaction. It states that you would walk away an expert after finishing. I’m not going to name and shame here, but I do want to walk you through the experience I had and some of the learning points with regards offering free content marketing.

I have completed the first session and the divide between content and sales was shocking!

Shameless plug webinar?

If a company or anyone is doing something for “free”, there is likely some motive behind it. That is obvious and I was expecting some parts of this course to do just that. I was interested to see how it would be done, some presenters and webinars are more sophisticated than others.

I’m perhaps the type of person who would look a gift horse in the mouth and wonder what the real motives are. Others might have a more optimistic view of these things than I do – after signing up they would see more positively the information in the emails that the course will be focused on learning, content with high interaction and that you will get great value from it.

Timings and breakdown

A webinar or live online session is often planned and created like writing a story. You need to split it into different areas of focus: welcome; introduction and expectations; learning content one then discussion; learning content two then discussion – as an example.

From being a producer on webinars and courses I am normally the one keeping a close eye on the time and ready to let the host or facilitator know to speed up or slow down. It’s now a curse that when I attend a session I am time focused and trying to reverse engineer the timings and layout the host has in their mind! This is what I did for this first session.

The sessions are one hour long, which I know from experience is tight for time when delivering great content and having quality interaction. Of course with my pessimistic view I knew there would need to be some time for a sales plug or direction towards some form of marketing outlet, it is a free course after all!

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Bait and hook

Warning signs right from the start! There was a twenty second introduction from the presenter, then over nine and half minutes devoted to try and bait you into sticking around for the rest of the course: “On session X you get a chance at winning course books, on session Y you get a chance at winning a premium course.”

There was also a mention along the lines of: “Sessions eight, nine and ten are amazing and we really made sure these session names had all the buzz words and the main part of your reason for signing up for this course.”

The way I approach content design and delivery is to captivate people from the first few minutes with the content and experience that they want and have signed up for. If you are having to wave the carrot at such an early stage I would question how pedagogically sound this really is.

The free webinar sessions that we offer at Lightbulb Moment… shameless plug I know, but…  We always focus on the compelling content and quality interaction. As I said before, when something is free there’s always a reason for it and we’re honest, it’s our marketing. But we try to take the approach of marketing the very same quality you’ll get in the paid-for product.

Where has the interaction gone?

After putting up with being told what I could win just by sticking around it got to the part which was the reason I was there, the content!

The presenter said she had crammed a ton of content into each session so that we could get real value from it. Session one had four main areas to go over and each area was quite a large discussion point. There were 50 minutes left and, factoring in interaction, meant this was going to surely be tight?

The “interaction” as they called it was the fact you could post a question to the presenter and they could respond. You could not see anyone else in the session or the questions they asked as there was no attendee chat available, a shame as I feel open chat normally makes for a better experience. Jo has blogged about it here.

The Q&A system was very rarely used to answer a question about the content. Instead it was used as a way to get people to agree with yes statements, using the “Yes Set Close” sales technique.

“Do you want a chance to get a course for free?” the presenter would ask. She would then mention names from the people who used the Q&A pod, “I can see Bob, Jane, Steve, Alice oh wow your all saying yes!” This was building up hype and getting people in the habit of saying “yes”. It’s a technique I have seen used often on free webinars.

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Finally some content

Each of the four main points of content could have had hour long sessions themselves, but the content section only had 30 minutes. That is seven and a bit minutes to go over large topic areas. As you can imagine, unless you had lived in a cave all your life, even the most complicated sections of content were dumbed down and it was reduced to just being made aware of their existence rather than learning anything substantial.

There was a real shameless example using a “real world” business model to help explain one of the content areas. The business they chose for this example from was their own business. It consisted of how great they are to their customers, how the customers love their “premium service” and so on.

Bits of the content briefly highlighted what you would get from the premium service, such as spending a minute explaining how a technique for doing a certain thing is great. They said that in this course it is not covered but, you guessed it, it is covered in the premium course. Some of that is fine and to be expected as you do want to promote the difference between a free option and something that people will get if they invest more.

More sales

With twenty minutes left and only half an hour of actual content, of which at least half was highlighting their premium service, it then moved on to the real sales part. They explained the premium service, signing up to the website and the like.

I felt there had been passive sales all the way through and this was now just a kick in the teeth!

Q&A… well… Q!

The last ten minutes was devoted to answering questions and the presenter said people could log off if they wanted. Not many people had questions about the actual content because it was so light – or because I could not see other people’s questions!

As I couldn’t see the questions there was an opportunity for the presenter to only answer the questions about the sales part and not content related. I did ask a genuine content question that was not answered. We were advised that, of course, anyone who still had questions as the hour was rounding out could email the sales team…

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Thoughts

I would have had less or no issues at all if the session and course had been titled correctly. It was really an “Introduction to X and what you can gain from COMPANY NAME sessions”. They marketed the course as learning events. Whilst I reiterate that I understand about using free as a marketing tool, this course is not what they promised. It’s a flashy sales brochure.

I stick with my thoughts from before: as a company if you are offering something for free there is a need to get something from it. If you are attending something for free you still want some value from it and are expecting the quid pro quo at some point.

When delivering free content, you need to deliver excellent value. Then people will believe in your approach and more likely to actually listen when you do sales and marketing that is genuine rather than based on questionable techniques.

What are your thoughts?

Reflection Friday – working out loud

This morning was the first Lightbulb Moment Reflection Friday! Mike and I started it after attending the Modern Learning Leader workshop where there was a healthy dose of reflective practice.

That experience, and the conversation Mike and I had about communicating and working together, prompted us to set aside some time every Friday morning for reflection.

Today was our first one that we could schedule in some weeks after the workshop and we wanted to share our approach and reaction as part of working out loud, giving other people ideas if they are beginning this same journey and prompting the wider conversation.

Do as I say, not as I do…

Probably we all know that reflective practice is a good thing to do. A lot of people are really invested in it, perhaps writing journals, blog posts, drawing or other artistic endeavours, part of a conversation group, meditation or a myriad of other options.

I’ve done various reflective practices in the past, found them good and useful, but usually only stuck with them as part of a project or programme.

The reason I wanted us to start doing this at Lightbulb Moment was to improve the already good communication and working relationship between me and Mike, focus on our individual and joint creativity and positively impact our business.

Agreement

Mike and I were both invested in finding time in our week to do this, as we’d been through the experience together on the workshop. Had that not been the case, one of us might have been more reticent and we wouldn’t have had a common language or experience to draw upon to get started.

This was the case with the workshop in the first place – Mike was very honest during the two days, saying that I’d basically signed him up as a “good thing” for his personal and professional development and he wasn’t as invested in the programme as I was. I had made the classic manager-training mistake of sending a direct report on training that they weren’t really interested in.

Luckily the workshop was really good and Mike soon became invested in the process and as the outcomes for our professional relationship were revealing and insightful it was an obvious thing to do to continue this.

Structure

We set aside 90 minutes mid-morning on a Friday to do this. I thought this would give us time to do some bits and pieces in the morning before coming together before lunch time.

Mike and I work geographically remote from each other and use Skype instant messaging and voice call a lot. We planned to use Skype video call in this instance to get the visual feedback and feeling from each other. In future weeks we’ll plan to be working in the same location to do this together.

Both of us had thought a little bit about what we should discuss but hadn’t put any rigid agenda in place. In another instance, with different people, this might be more appropriate.

We decided to continue the conversation and approach from the workshop, which was to reflect on our working week – what we had been working on and achieved – then move into focusing on our communication and working relationship, finishing with some wild writing.

Practice

Mike and I chatted through our working week in summary to update each other. This segued nicely into our communication and working relationship. It was a bit of a meta analysis really – revisiting some of the discussions we had and understanding what we thought the other person thought and how we handled it. In most instances we were spot on with what we were picking up and how we dealt with it. It was good to revisit though and make sure.

Mike comments on this part of the process that:

“It was very interesting to discuss the working week but with a mindset of the goal we had in place for the reflection; analysing working tasks and focusing on the aspect of our communication and relationship floated some thoughts to the surface. These were how we could improve – that otherwise would have remained out of sight”.

One of the elements we discussed during the workshop was our communication, bearing in mind we are working remotely from each other. We already had great communication, but there’s also always room for improvement. Certainly on my part I’d made much more effort to explain my thinking and give more detail to any tasks I’d asked Mike to do. We think very similarly and that strength can be taken advantage of and turn into a weakness.

The focus turned to more of the relationship and how we work together. Largely it was all fine and positive with no major issues. What was interesting is that it was an hour into the conversation of “this is fine, this is good, this worked well” that we actually got through some layers into a fundamental assumption that was manifesting in a certain way.

Virtual team communication

With regards more regular Skype instant messaging, and the type and tone of conversation there, Mike had made the assumption of “Jo is busy, so I won’t bother her” whereas had he been sitting next me, he would have seen I wasn’t on a call or a virtual classroom session and just said “hey, what do you think of this?”. It might have been a two minute conversation – this is something we were missing out on by working remotely.

Without having this Reflection Friday we might not have had this conversation or got to this point of detail. It allowed me to understand why there was a very small but pertinent barrier in our communications. It gave me the opportunity to update Mike’s thinking to explain how I like to work and then we discussed trying a different way of working in the future.

This is the reason this reflective practice is so important, virtual team or not. 

Wild writing

We got to the point where we had talked about doing some Wild Writing – where you just keep writing and see what comes out. We’d done some in the workshop and I thought it was a technique we should continue.

Mike had suggested he felt that we’d had “wild conversation” and that we’d pretty much covered what we needed and didn’t feel that the activity would be of great benefit. All well reasoned and very reasonable.

I made the suggestion that this time was for building reflective practice, trying new things, that we’d gotten benefit from it on the workshop and we should try it. If we decided it wasn’t working, we didn’t have to continue.

So we did! We mute ourselves but left webcams on and tried it out.

Mike wrote on paper, I used Notepad on the computer and typed (no spelling or grammar mistakes would be highlighted with red squiggles to distract me!). I found I was typing a lot of “and now what else shall I say”.

I also found it interesting to do this typing whereas last time I was writing with a pen. This was part of my wild writing: “it’s almost like I want to think of it before I write it maybe it’s because I’m typing… that I can type quicker than when I think and write with a pen”.

We had some discussion after the writing. Mike had reiterated the conversation we’d already had, which I saw as good confirmation that he was happy and there wasn’t a lot else going on.

I had some things I reflected on personally, plus focusing on the work I say yes to and how I focus on the best work and projects for the business moving forwards.

I found it useful to go through a short version of this activity – just maybe five minutes writing and five minutes debrief between us. It’s taken me longer to blog about it than do it!

Mike’s thoughts on it:

“After initially thinking I had already covered everything in the conversation I was dubious what extra value would come from the wild writing. Once done it quickly highlighted the main points and stressed the need to move through with them. It was also interesting that Jo had come up with some personal reflections that also helped my understanding from her side.”

Next steps

We’ll share more as our practice develops. So far, it’s been a nice way to start rounding off the week. It’s been personally insightful, as well as for the working relationship with Mike.

I’d love to read your thoughts and comments on what you can take away from what we’ve shared, and also perhaps what you are doing too!

Delivery virtual classroom training – baby steps to confident strides

“Would you be interested in delivering virtuals?”

I shuddered.

I wanted to do something different and here was a relatively new client offering something. Virtuals? I was concerned about me vs technology and thought it might be boring, talking to a void, changing slides every couple of minutes.

Then it dawned on me. It could be fun. I can do this from home. We live in the Scottish Highlands. I enjoy the travelling and love face-to-face delivery and here was an opportunity to augment it with some home working. “OK, I’ll give it a go.”

Getting prepared for the virtual classroom

Three tutorials to get me up to speed. Remember your first driving lesson? All those things to do at once, just to get the car to move, never mind driving it safely. That is how it felt. I had two great tutors, who gave me confidence before I felt it. Then it was time for practice on my own and with trusted partners. It felt like spinning plates and juggling wearing boxing gloves!

The day came for my assessment. I figured if I wrote everything down that I had to do with the technology in sequence, that would be a start. Then remembered that I have a webcam and they can see my face when I fumble with the controls.

Oh, and delivering some training at the same time, with the added extras of speaking even more clearly and calmly, sounding assured enough to inspire confidence in participants. Finally, remembering to find out how they are going to use the learning at the end of the session.

Building on the skills

I passed the assessment. Since then I have had plenty of practice. Just like driving, the many individual acts have become habitual, with a large slice of consciousness.

What I have learned is that getting to grips with the technology increases your confidence and helps you transfer that confidence to the delegates, some of whom may be wary of virtual learning. Learning to make the odd unnoticed mistake and deal with it seamlessly has helped me.

Knowing that if anything technical goes wrong, there is almost always a solution at your fingertips. For the webcam, I make sure your light is good for the delegate view. Keep a crib guide close to hand.

And make sure you breathe, relax and enjoy it! People keep asking me about running virtuals, often with the wariness I had two years ago. It is fun, challenging in different ways and a great way to make learning more accessible.

 

About our guest blogger

Paul Tran is Director of PT Performance Solutions Ltd. He designs and delivers face-to-face and virtual training in communication, change and management and personal development.

Based in the Scottish Highlands, Paul works throughout the UK & Ireland. Client feedback describes Paul’s training as interactive, informative, engaging and practical. Paul is a qualified coach, Master Practitioner of NLP and Licensed Facilitator of SDI.