Tuesday, February 16, 2010

5 Building Blocks to Better Beginnings with Carmen Taran

Are you delivering an online webinar? Creating an aysnchronous learning experience? How do you hook your learner? How do you get them to sit up and pay attention. How do you compete with email, Google, iPhones and Blackberries?

As I find myself doing more webinars, I wanted to find out how…

5 Building Blocks to Better Beginnings with Carmen Taran of Rexi Media. From the archive for the eLearning Guilds Online Forum – originally presented on January 29, 2010.

(If you’ve got access to OLFs, you can access the archive here: http://www.elearningguild.com/content.cfm?selection=doc.1467)

So what are the five building blocks to better beginnings? Five important ways to hook your learner and sustain that attention throughout? Well, read on for more…

1. Anticipation

Create anticipation.

The human brain loves to look to future state. Hockey player anticipates where the puck goes and they move there.

Use words like: “at last”, “imagine…”, “new”

Give something away (give a book away at end of session).

Promise at the beginning of session that you can diminish/simplify complexity -- people crave to know how they can put their world into order.

Complexity builds anticipation, but so does uncertainty. When elements in an event are equal in skill – now you have somebody’s attention. So many session become too predictable – whenever you can include a touch of unpredictability, your learner pays more attention – they might stop multi-tasking. “We’re going to talk about 3 graphic programs, but together we'll decide which are the best ones to discuss today.”

What kills anticipation at the beginning of a training program? The kiss of death in the agenda, too much deviation from task at hand, the objectives statement, too much text.

A narcissistic beginning kills anticipation (when presenter talks about themself or their company and how big they are and how wonderful they are. They don’t take into account the needs of the audience. You do have to establish credibility – but reserve that for later in the session.)

That first minute is your passport into the rest of the session.

Always focus on what they need to know, not on how wonderful you are.

2. Incongruity

Creating a tiny touch of conflict in your audience’s mind.

Share unusual images or sounds – your audience will try to fit what you show/say/do with what they know. They will try to fit…

Surprising facts create incongruity!

What is the best time to work later? Tuesday nights, between 6-9

Think about your own business content – is there something surprising you can show at the beginning to get people’s attention.

Sprinkle these techniques throughout your session to sustain attention.

“Your turn” – She has a 2 minute contest – imagine you have to present to your audience about water. What would you start with? What images would you show? (and the winner gets a copy of her book). She took the first text entries and then created an on the fly poll out of them so participants could vote.

3. Participation

Lack of participation is associated with most sessions. In today’s world, everyone wants to be involved – even tv today.

Easiest way – ask a question. Make use of chat! The more questions, the more you engage. The minute you ask a question, the more the brain is mandated to answer. (Even if the learner doesn’t answer out loud, the brain answers…)

Other ways than questions…

Flash interactions – take more time to build and design (FlashComGuru) – she’s got letters on the screen and participants can drag around to spell words. People are stealing letters from each other. Can use at beginning of session – maybe every 30 minutes use it again as a break exercise.

Then she showed an interaction example – memory game – everyone’s playing on their own. Use images or words that related to the content.

These Flash files work well in Adobe Connect because each user can interact with Flash files independently.

Make sure content is directly linked to what you’re presenting on .

4. Visual Thinking

The power of the visual – shows a slide filled with bullet points – yuck. Truncated language of bulleted text.

Not just any visuals. Edge, energy and emotion – use those three in your images.

When you create your slides, make your participants feel like they’re entering a neat, sophisticated room – not a cluttered room full of mess!

Resources for graphics:

Save Time Brain processes graphics faster than auditory – makes for a short presentation!

More memorable! Brain remembers visuals better.

Keeps them focused

More tips on graphics;

  • use texture (imagine of a fuzzy rug, a bit taken out of chocolate)
  • often people use tiny images with lots of bullets next to it – image loses impact. Instead blow up the picture and put text small…
  • Steve Jobs, “Good design is design that makes you want to lick the screen.”
  • Use texture to awaken the senses.
  • RED has guts and power. Use images with reds that pops.
  • Turn images to black and white to turn meaning.
  • Abstract concepts – how do you visualize them? spend time to find an image to help visualize a challenging concept (e.g., “alienated” shown with image of barbed wire with water droplet).
  • Good design takes 3 eye movements or less – you just scan around no more than 3 times to make sense of the image.

5. Vocal Variety

The power of the voice. Does the presenter have a monotone voice that drones or is she passionate about what she’s sharing with you?

I only have one chance to make an impression on you. (Most people don’t go back and look to a session recording…)

Do it well – add more melody and pitch to your voice. Imagine your words are running along a piano keyboard. Add variety.

When you don’t have variety, speech becomes predictable. If you use too few tones, then people think they can predict what you’re going to say next. Now they go off to their blackberries…

Practice on your own:

Get a paragraph of text – highlight a few words (adjectives and adverbs) in the text – that you want to spice up a bit.

Great to co-present so you have two voices that add variety during the session.

Final notes

The brain seeks closure. Cliffhangers on tv shows leave you wanting to come back next time. A touch of suspense to capture attention and sustain it. Leave people on that note, so they want to come back to your next session!

General notes on her session:

  • She’s making AMAZING use of images.
  • Lots of pauses – she’s ok with silence.
  • Lots of use of chat.
  • “Your turn” – 2 minute contest – imagine you have to present to your audience about water.

If you’re in the business of presenting online webinars, do check this session out. Lots of great tips that I’ve shared here – but so much to get from her presentation style.

Photo credit: Blocks by HeyPaul

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