Checking the Readability Level of your Training Documents

Last week I had an opportunity to present at the Online Learning Conference in Chicago. After my session was over, I snuck in to several other sessions, including Julie Dirksen’s session entitled The Science of Attention, Willpower and Decision-making for Better eLearning. The facts and figures she presented were compelling (especially the way in which she dispelled the “human attention span is only 8 seconds” statistic), but it was a Microsoft Word trick she mentioned in passing that I found most interesting and couldn’t wait to try.    Continue reading

Product Review (kind of): SlideBot


Who doesn’t want a faster way to create amazing slides for their next presentation?

When a colleague sent me a link to SlideBot last week, I was intrigued. The homepage is slick and comes with testimonials like this:

“I don’t know how they do it, but SlideBot’s computer is more creative than I am. They turned one of the weakest slides in my TEDx presentation to one of the strongest – simultaneously hard hitting and humorous.”

– Jon Turk, TEDx Speaker

I was sold. I wanted beautiful slides, and I wanted a computer bot to help me generate them. My experience was a little different than the SlideBot experience that Jon Turk apparently had.   Continue reading

Three Magic Questions to Ask in order to Map Out a Learning Program


Today’s the day.

The new employee orientation at my organization has been in existence for a while now, but everyone seems to be in agreement that it needs a fairly significant overhaul.

A little later today, I’ll be meeting with a variety of colleagues in order to talk about this overhaul. As we jump into this conversation, I’ll be using the following three questions – which can be used for most training programs (not just new employee orientation) – to lend some structure to this dialogue:   Continue reading

When the trainer becomes the trainee


I’m coaching my son’s first grade CYO soccer team this fall and earlier this week I attended four and a half hours of mandatory meetings and training. The morning after the training, my wife asked what I learned.

I paused, then said: “You can’t bring your vuvuzela to games this year.” In fact, you can’t bring cow bells or whistles either.

She asked if I learned anything else during these four and a half hours. I paused again, then began to panic. Continue reading

Is it really a train the “trainer” session? Or is it a train the “SME” session?


Last week I was talking with a colleague who made a distinction between what she perceives her team as doing compared to what some other teams do. She said: “We really view our team as educators, while there are other teams that get out into the field and don’t even care about who the audience is, they simply have a slide deck and they’re going to walk the audience through the slide deck. We call them presenters, as opposed to educators.”

I normally don’t get too caught up in language and vocabulary and semantics, but this was an important point. Perhaps more importantly, this was coming from an operational manager, not someone in the L&D department. This wasn’t just “inside baseball” talk among training geeks. Continue reading

A lesson every L&D professional should take from the Colin Kaepernick controversy

Colin Kaepernick

A funny thing happened to Colin Kaepernick recently: everyone now has an opinion of him.

If you haven’t heard about the Colin Kaepernick controversy, choose only one of the following articles about him and then let me know what you think of him:

Article 1 (San Francisco police officers’ point of view)

Article 2 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s point of view)

What do you think? Do you like what he’s done? Is he to be celebrated? Or do you think he’s committed an awful, ignorant, naive, perhaps even unforgivable offense?

People are forming all sorts of opinions not necessarily based upon Kaepernick’s actual actions, but rather based upon what they’re favorite talking heads are saying.

When our learners hear an opinion about our latest training course before they even have a chance to think for themselves, it can be a very dangerous proposition for L&D professionals. And there’s research that shows why this can be a bad thing.   Continue reading