Monthly Archives: January 2012

Social Media for Trainers – Practical Example no.1

This blog-post outlines a practical example of how social media tools could be used during and after training. If you have questions, send me an email…

What is the added-value of using social media for training?

  • Improve understanding and retention of what was discussed in training
  • Keep the learning process alive by creating longevity
  • Provide additional references to your participants, this concentrating on Authentic Learning whilst in the training room
  • Drive traffic to your blog site/Twitter account, thus improving your network reach
  • Learn more stuff yourself (as a trainer)


How this idea started

  • Following the @KluwerOpleiding #KluSome Trainer’s Lounge there was some discussion on our LinkedIn group about how to best profit from social media in training
  • A discussion group member posted this film from @Tedtalks
  • Another group member (trainer) used that film in training as an icebreaker to discussion on eNetworking
  • I was asked for advice on how to best integrate more social media in the training…


What I suggested to the trainer in question…

Write a blog page outlining the discussion held during training

  • This could be interesting for other people online who want to hear opinions about eNetworking
  • An example of such a blog post can be found here (not about eNetworking)
  • On that blog page, embed the original movie …or better yet, link it to a personal YouTube channel like this one
  • Add some additional references that you have found that might add to what was already said (as on the blog noted above)


Create a group on LinkedIn

  • This could be about eNetworking or about the overall training topic you were training on…
  • Connect to training participants on LinkedIn
  • Invite them to join the LinkedIn group


Start a conversation on the LinkedIn group

  • Put in the link to your blog-post, inviting people to comment either on the blog or the LinkedIn group …this could be done immediately or for better longevity X weeks after training is completed


Add-On options

  • Tweet something about your blog-page
  • Email participants to let them know about the blog-page/LinkedIn group, rather than using direct LinkedIn invitations
  • Add your blog-post as a comment on another page about networking


I hope this helps. I will add other practical examples of using SoMe to add-value to training.

Thanks for reading


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The Goal of Onboarding

Yesterday I had the pleasure of running the 3rd Learning+Development Round-Table. This event brings together a small number of highly motivated Learning+Development Managers from big-name organisations in Belgium. *


Following an excellent highly interactive presentation from Gosse Corstiaensen of KPMG Belgium, we spent a moment carefully defining the goals of corporate onboarding.


According to the team, if you are setting up onboarding processes for your company, these should be your goals:

  • Create alignment to task, mission, culture/values, processes
  • Make people self-sufficient to get the quickly productive
  • Get people connected
  • Create employe satisfaction
  • Create retention especially of the best people
  • Create commitment/engagement/motivation
  • Create brand champions with the right employee behaviour
  • Build a good image of your company so that even if the above fails, they still believe



@Gosse_C introduced us to the 4Cs of onboarding and then we spoke about many different ways to achieve the above-mentioned goals. Here I have added a few that I retained, plus some additional references…

  • 2 different strategic approaches to onboarding (picture)
  • Onboarding should be fun, extended and include managers (external blog post)
  • For young graduates and 1st-time employees, include a video “fail” to acquaint them with what bad onboarding looks like – this will help them to raise onboarding-fail-flags earlier
  • Create a psychological contract with new joiners
  • Use a buddy system
  • Create values-learning with game-playing (rather than speech and presentation)
  • Create an onboarding-portal (intranet) with processes, info etc – this should be created and presentation from the user-experience point-of-view
  • Include a feedback-loop early in the process – best practices include regular phone-calls from the employees recruiter to see how things are going


Hope this helps!

*If you would like to join the L+D Round-Table next time, email me for more details


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Answer 3 questions to convince your audience

When presenting for an audience, selling something or even just talking to another person, you need to answer 3 key questions. If you don’t, you will not get the attention or result you want.


In “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” @carminegallo notes one of these questions and says that its the only one that an audience cares about: “How can this help me?” or “How is this interesting for me?”. I agree that this is the bottom-line when it comes to presenting.


In order to answer that question clearly, I ask my training participants to get in the habit of literally answering the following 3 questions the audience is asking themselves and to do it asap in the opening of their presentation:

  • What is your point?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • What do you want from me?


An example would be as follows:

“Hi. My name is DAN and I’m here to tell you that the best way to kick-off a presentation is by answering the 3 core questions your audience wants to here about. If you listen to me, I’ll explain these 3 questions, their motivation and how to answer them. I hope you will be convinced to do this in the future when you present.”


Another example:

“Thank you for joining the presentation. I only have one thing to say tonight and its simple: My product will make your work easier. In the next 10 minutes, I will show you how its different features can help benefit you with very little effort from your side. I am convinced that you will be ready to collaborate with our company and I’m ready to answer all your questions in order to win the business.”


These 2 examples are quite different. Both are equally direct. Some might say too direct, but the 3 questions are clearly answered.


So: Go forth and answer these question as soon as possible. If you do, you will have the ear of your audience. The rest is up to you…


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“If you get wet, I’ll buy you a beer” or the importance of positive language in goal-setting)

“If you get wet, I’ll buy you a beer”

These are the last words my canoeing instructor said before I rolled my boat over in the Thames. In February.

3 weeks earlier I had joined the Reading University Canoeing Club, 18 years old and ready to jump in the deep end. Over those 3 weeks we had learnt all sorts of simple canoeing techniques in the swimming pool off the London Road. I could go forward, backward, left and right. I could even get out of my boat upside down.

Now I suppose the real question is why didn’t we practice Eskimo rolling in the pool (rolling your boat over and up through 180 degrees). But this didn’t cross my mind until I got to the Thames.


My instructor (whose name has been erased from my mind along with all other traces of the trauma) explained how to roll the boat. He showed me in his own boat. He even reassured me that if I didn’t make it over, it was OK – I knew how to get out so. And he was there. I wouldn’t drown. Great!

“But surely it’s gonna be pretty cold if I have to get out?” I asked.

“You’ll be fine” he replied, adding the famous last words: “If you get wet, I’ll buy you a beer”


And this is what I wanted to write about: Positive grammar in objective setting. I’ve already mentioned this in my other post on PERSONAL goal-setting but there’s nothing better than a story to make a point, right?

The brain concentrates on everything positive first. Negation comes second. If you tell a child not to drop her glass, she first hears “drop” and then tries to equate the negation. Chances are she already dropped the glass…


So there I am on the Thames. My brain knows how to get out of the boat – I have assimilated those movements into my repertoire. Now it’s time to try something new. Concentrate. Remember what the coach said…

“If you get wet, I’ll buy you a beer”


30 minutes later, dry again but still shivering I sipped my beer in the bar by the water. I watched the others roll their boats over and made 2 promises which I have kept ever since:

  • Always phrase objectives in terms of desired positive outcomes
  • Never go canoeing again


Thanks for reading!


I welcome your comments

..but I’d LOVE you to subscribe to my blog

See also Melanie Hoffner’s blog on positive mental attitude

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SoMe, SoWhat? (A Trainer’s Enquiry)

Social Media is here to stay. People are getting together watching, commenting and sharing. Some are even doing more.

The possibilities for a trainer are endless. No blog spot can list them all (although some do a reasonable job of getting started). But should you, the trainer, jump on the train or let it pass by?


Why use social media as a trainer?

I will admit, I’ve been seduced by the “fun” and “cool” of social media for training (and learning in general) but that is not a good reason to get involved.

Here are 3 GOOD reasons:

  • New participant audiences are doing it anyway (Generation Y), so if you want to adapt…
  • You can get your message or learning much more easily to more people by joining them where they are (instead of making them come to you)
  • You can create longer lasting impact outside of the classroom with limited additional investment


According to @JaneBozarth in her book “Social Media for Trainers” the effective use of SoMe strategies “can provide a big payoff for both learners and trainers”.

According to Karie Willyerd, it will be unacceptable to delivery learning in the future that DOES NOT “incorporate features that make hanging out on social sites compelling”.

But that doesn’t mean you have to use SoMe Tools – integrating features like “rating” and “commenting” into a classroom is easy…


But if you DO want to use SoMe as a trainer… What can you do?

In short, SoMe can be useful before, during and after training. In my opinion, with the technology and audiences I see today, most efficient ROI for integrating SoMe tools into training comes from the pre/post phase.

I’m not going to list here all different the tools and approaches I use for increasing the longevity of training with SoMe tools, but here are 6 simple things you could consider achieving:



  • Get people to introduce themselves, their needs and their questions to each other before they get to the room
  • Share a knowledge-resource on a given topic and a start-up conversation
  • Vote, survey or rate things that will be discussed in the room



  • Get people sharing references and resources after your training
  • Create a(n infinitely growing) group of participants from a particular course of content who can share and discuss best practices, worries and success stories
  • Make simple “piqures de rappel” months after the money and time spent in training is passed


Why not?

What are the reasons for NOT doing such things? Again – there are SO many!! Here are some of the reasons I hear from my colleagues and network:

  • “There is no added value”
  • “We will only make our own work as trainers redundant”
  • “People don’t want to do more after training”
  • “It takes too much time”
  • “I’m a trainer and training stops when the last participant leaves”
  • “My participants are not ON social media”
  • “I’m not ON social media”
  • “Tools like Facebook are dangerous”
  • “I don’t like sharing – I’m a private kind of person”
  • “My clients don’t let their people use YouTube and Twitter”


Why do I @dan_steer do it?


See you there?

…but not on Facebook (I’ll explain why if you come to the Trainer’s Lounge, 25th January with @kluweropleiding)


Why I have restricted my Tweets on LinkedIn

 @sabinetobback from @kluweropleiding asked me the question: What do you think about linking Twitter to LinkedIn. She told me that @janvermeiren warns of the dangers of this in his free eBook about How to Really Use LinkedIN

I asked @janvermeiren what he thought, along with @fredericw and @lucgallopin and I did a good bit of googling…

This is what I replied to @sabinetobback in our LinkedIn discussion…..


There are multiple issues. It mostly depends on your network, what you want (eg visibility vs. real content) and what you are tweeting (professional vs. non-professional).
I made a wallwisher site to show the results of my investigation – check it out here
In my own case: All my tweets are “stand-alone content sensible”, professionally onbrand and providing resources on communication, leadership, learning and personal effectiveness.

…. but I am not worried that I spam LinkedIn users too much.

However, LinkedIn successfully drives a lot of users to my blog content, so the interest is there.

Tough one….

I have decided to allow LinkedIn to only have Tweets with #IN hashtag from now on. This is achieved in the setting page of my LinkedIn profile. Those tweets will be my own original thoughts leading to my own content.

We’ll see how it goes (and if I remember the #IN tag 🙂 )

…hopefully the “loss” of 3 characters will be OK 😉

Thanks @sabinetobback for the inspiration


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5 ways to really piss me off when you give me feedback

(And yes, the title is rude because I’m annoyed!)

(And didn’t someone once say you should add some personal-flavour to blogging and social networking?)


If you really want to annoy, demotivate and alienate people, follow these 5 simple feedback “un-rules”:


Give it without warning

Throwing out feedback without asking can be horribly surprising for the person getting the feedback. Even feedback-givers with good intentions can screw up by jumping into their message without first asking (or at least warning) the other person. What was a simple conversation or meeting suddenly turns into one person telling the other what they do or don’t like about their performance….

You might be tempted to think this is only an issue when giving feedback on negative performance, but my experience tells me otherwise. I once told a fantastic colleague “out of the blue” what and how I found she was doing well –> she became very shy and uneasy about the rest of the meeting. Try to avoid the “Where did that come from?” effect.


Give it without permission

Letting people know that feedback is coming is one thing, but I always find it better to actually ask permission to give feedback first. It can be as simple as saying “I have some feedback to give you. Would that be OK?” Asking this question will also help you to avoid the first issue, maybe even deferring the feedback to a moment that is more comfortable for the other person.

 (Of course, if you are in a position of hierarchical authority and you feel that the other person does not have to give you permission, go ahead – I am rarely in this position now, but I don’t say it’s impossible)


Give it via someone else, rather than yourself

There are 3 good reasons to pass feedback to someone via a third party:

  • You have no guts
  • You are manipulating
  • You are the n+2 and feel that all feedback must come via the n+1

Personally, I think the last reason is pretty lousy – actually often a form of gutless corporate manipulation made possible by hierarchy and organigrams. But hey, I suffered a lot once from gutless corporate manipulation, so I may be a little biased…

I am also aware that some cultures can be more direct than others with their communication style, but as a general principle, I think that if you have something to tell someone, it should be YOU that tells them.


Create no dialogue, even though you are dealing with a competent human being

I think it’s a good idea to link the “next steps” or “here’s what you could do” part of feedback-giving to a situational leadership style.

I won’t go into too much detail here and I am ignoring S4/D4 here (read Leadership and the One Minute Manager by @kenblanchard), but the principle is simple for today:

  • If the person is incompetent, you need to tell them what and how to do better
  • If the person is competent, you may not NEED to tell them what/how to do: Discussing, involving and asking may be a better option


Be wrong

I just did this to one of my daughters tonight. I told her I wasn’t very happy that she said “XYZ” to her mother. In fact, she said X and Y, but not Z. Fail!

Nothing sucks more than inaccurate feedback.

When it comes to objective vs. subjective feedback, it’s important to note that accuracy is possible in BOTH cases:

  • If you are talking about measurable performance “facts” collect and cite them well
  • If you are talking about your own feelings and opinion (with regard to the other person’s performance) then make it clear that it’s your opinion – don’t make the mistake of pretending (to yourself or others) that it’s a fact


All of these 5 fails were achieved by someone giving me feedback last week

 How do I feel?

  • Angry
  • Misunderstood
  • Vengeful

Now, I add one final thing: My wife has just read this and says “Hey DAN, the last part is very strong and not very business-like”.

Do you really think that business people don’t feel these things when you give them lousy feedback?



Thanks for reading.

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Be FAB to be heard

This blog post explains the basics of FAB communication. FAB is a simple acronym to help you remember what people want to hear and what they don’t. Talk FAB and you have more chance of being heard. Talk FAB and you have more chance of getting what you need from your communication.


In training with IT consultants, I ask them to create a short personal CV for a potential client. I ask them for qualities that would be interesting for their clients.

I tend to get a lot of answers like:

  1. Organisational Skills
  2. Degree in Engineering
  3. Bilingual French and German


F = Features …and basically: No-one cares

For me, the types of answer noted above are simply features of the consultant. Things they are or things they do. Most people don’t care about features because they simply aren’t interesting.


A = Advantages …which are already much better

An advantage is defined as what makes it better to have “F” than not have “F”. So I ask the consultants to translate their features into advantages.

This is what I get (respectively, for the aforementioned “F” answers):

  1. Able to efficiently organise workload and ensure that priority work is finished on time
  2. Able to understand complex ideas and translate them into models and processes
  3. Can talk to Swiss customers

Already much better!! …but….


B = Benefits …and this is what people care about

In fact, let me slow down a bit. What DO people care about? Do I care about you? No! I care about me… and despite my wife and mother telling me to be less egoistic, I WILL ALWAYS CARE ABOUT ME.

Just like the procurement people looking for IT consultants care about themselves and their companies. So: We need to show the benefits of our advantageous feature. This means tuning in the advantage the situation, values and needs of the other person.

3 more examples:

  1. Ensure on-time delivery of new IT projects
  2. Help your people to implement new processes by defining clear and easy to follow steps
  3. Increase sales in Switzerland by streamlining customer communication

(…notice how the 2nd and 3rd benefit statements include a clear reference to the “A” statement) Now that’s more like it!!


In conclusion…

Translating your features in to advantages that are beneficial for the other person is key to getting them to listen, care and act …and the applications go a lot further than selling IT consultants.

Here are a few examples of moments when FAB communication would be good:


Convincing your partner to take a different route to your holiday destination

  • F = road name
  • A = what makes that road better
  • B = why your partner should care

A strong WIIFM statement in a presentation introduction

  • F = “I will tell you about 1, 2, 3”
  • A = Why 1, 2, 3 is good
  • B = What you will get out of listening to me

The opening paragraph of this blog-post:

  • F = “FAB is a simple acronym to help you remember what people want to hear and what they don’t”
  • A = “Talk FAB and you have more chance of being heard”
  • B = “Talk FAB and you have more chance of getting what you need from your communication”


I hope you liked this post and I hope you are ready to be FAB.

Feel free to leave a comment..



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Authentic Learning in “The Guardian”

In the film “The Guardian” with Kevin Costner, there is a nice example of Authentic Learning which highlights the Minimum Effective Dose principle I wrote about in my initial blog post on the subject.


Costner’s character Randall is due to teach the effects of hypothermia to students of the US Coast Guard “A” school. At class time, his colleagues eventually track him down not in the classroom, but in the swimming pool. Randall is seen shovelling ice into an extremely cold small pool. Everyone is shivering away; to the side, one student is doing CPR on a test-dummy.


Randall’s commanding officer calls him out of the pool and asks: “Why wasn’t I informed of this? You know, we have classrooms.”   … adding “Your assignment is to simply teach the stages of hypothermia”


Randall replies (with a shiver): “Sir …. in about 2 and a half minutes, they’ll understand”


Understanding is not knowing, or being able to recite the facts. Understanding is understanding. Teaching Coast Guard swimmers the facts in a classroom does not deliver the Minimum Effective Dose for understanding hypothermia. This Authentic Learning approach does.


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2012 = The Year of Authentic Learning

As 2011 closes and we gear up for another 12 month run of learning, what will be the focus for learning professionals? In my opinion, 2012 will be all about Authentic Learning. This blog spot outlines the what and why of Authentic Learning. Let’s start with…


Question: Why is Authentic Learning so important?

Answer: Because of the increased demand for value-for-money and a low bullshit-threshold

  1. In Belgium, people are talking about part 2 of the economic crisis. We finally have a government and this means tightening money-belts. Other countries may not have had the same political issues, but the financial issues are much the same. The impact for business will be the increasing demand for value for money. Return on Investment is a given. No ROI, no contract. In 2012, clients will just want more.
  2. Our current Gen-Y culture is infecting people of all ages with some very cool values like freedom, autonomy and choice. These new drivers are seriously lowering what I call the bullshit-threshold and this will have an impact on learning initiatives as well.


Question: What is Authentic Learning all about?

Answer: Effective, pragmatic and true learning opportunities

  1. Effective learning does what it promises. This means that learning professionals cannot stop at creating competence. They need to create results. For example, training designed to help new leaders motivate their teams doesn’t just deliver knowledge, skills and attitude –> it creates motivation!
  2. Pragmatic learning is to-the-point lean learning. This means that learning initiatives must deliver the minimum effective dose (MED) of whatever stuff is required to get those effective learning results. In my opinion, MED is the guiding effectiveness principle of the 21st century. If I need X, don’t give me Y. And if X is enough, don’t give me 2X !!
  3. True learning is aligned to the business environment, values and learning participants. The one-size-fits-all attitude to learning is no longer acceptable. Organisations and people have always been different and learning professionals have known this for a long time. But are they really using this to make learning true? The granularity principle in learning will mean that people must be able to get what they need when they need it in the way they like it.


In my own case, here is how I will be focusing on Authentic Learning in 2012:

  • Step 1 = Agree simple honest performance objectives with no-bullshit measurements of success
  • Step 2 = If people give me a day of their time for training, make sure they get something in the room that they can’t get out of the room
  • Step 3 = Treat every learning moment as a first-time experience, dropping all ego and assumptions in order to choose what is right for the business, values and people at that time


I would love to have your comments 🙂

Good luck in 2012,

See you there!



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