Category Archives: Communication
It’s the final concurrent session of ASTD2014, we are going to make a video. It should be easy, (almost) free, relevant and successful. Bring it on Stacy Bodenner!
So, your CEO comes to you and says “Make me a film for our 30th anniversary”. You have a USB microphone, a webcam and $300… *
Tools you might want
- A reasonably good microphone – the speaker proposes a Go Mic for $40
- A pop-guard if you want to avoid “T” and “P” popping sounds on your audio. If you don’t want to buy one, you could make you own (instructional video here)
- A simple video-making app or some software on your computer
What apps or software can I make video with?
- ScreenR allows you to capture whatever is on your PC screen + add audio. Easy and intuitive.
- MS PowerPoint if you just want to convert your PPT slides into simple video – make it less text-driven and feel free to use some animation. Click on “send to”..
- Vine app if 6 seconds is enough for you
- Animoto app if you want to use videos (Vine included) and photos already on a smartphone or tablet
- MS Movie Maker (free on MS) allows you to trim video, add photos, sound and transitions
- Garage Band if you want to make your own music. It’s easy, even if you are not a musician and don’t have instruments. Honestly! Cost about $6. Or just get on Creative Commons for a list of free legal music sources…
- If you want a a full editing suite at about $12 on ipad, try Pinnacle (formally known as Avid Studio)
- Make a storyboard in advance to think about what you want to show and say
- Use the rule of thirds for set-up of your picture frames
- Avoid having light coming through windows onto your subject’s face
- You can use MS PPT slides to make logo images or backgrounds or transition slides
- Render your video in the highest possible quality
- Keep your videos short … 30 to 90 seconds
- Take the time to add some title or closing text
See also my tips from Matt Pierce at ASTD2013
Thanks for reading!
ASTD has announced that it is changing its name to ATD: “The Association for Talent Development”. Having started my working career in the international branding agency Nomen, I was particularly interested in the news and reactions by members. To be immediately clear on my opinion, I think it is a good change and hope it will be as best executed as possible over the coming period.
The process for a name change is lengthy, costly and massively important to any business organisation. The name must reflect the brand and achieve whatever business goals necessary.
It all starts with a good naming brief
The first step is to create a well structured briefing that outlines the brand (image) that the name must communicate. In the case of A(S)TD, I assume there were two major requirements in order to enlarge the scope of the association: Remove the “American” and reduce the immediate and exclusive focus on “Training”. In the case of A(S)TD, these 2 requirements seem very sensible to me. As our industry has evolved, we all understand that learning is more than training. Given the international scope of the organisation (as proven by the 9000+ international attendees at this year’s conference) it also seems natural to want to reflect that in the brand. The other semantic requirements are unknown to me, but may include things like “performance driven”, “giving a sense of prestige”, “connected and collaborative”, “focussing on human potential”, “focused on results” etc etc..
Today I have heard from various conference attendees the new name does not say what it ought to. More on this later.
There are other considerations that must be included in the briefing that are common to all name creation including who must understand the brand, specific language or length requirements, where and how it will be used, fit with other names in the brand portfolio, differentiation from competitors etc… It is important the right people are involved in creating the naming brief, in order that the name does what it must across the business. Involvement can also help with adoption of the new name and smoothing the change process.
Today I have heard complaints that the focus on “talent” does not fit with other A(S)TD brands related to “workforce development” and “training design and delivery”. I also heard disappointment that other people were not consulted, to illicit their opinion. As I understood it, the board, communications and marketing departments worked in close collaboration with the branding agency.
Name creation is an art in itself
The creative phase for name creation begins with a team of people who look for different possible ways to evoke the brand in words. Normally, this phase is not initially restricted by specific conditions like type or length of name. A creative team is charged with looking for descriptions and associations that can communicate what was laid out in the brief, then turning them into names. At this point, various creation strategies can be considered, including use of patronymics (“Johnson and Johnson”) and 4 other specific types of name structure:
A(S)TD has chosen to use descriptive dictionary terms for the name. The biggest value of (staying with) this choice is in search-engine optimisation and comprehension across international languages. In principle, given the choice to stay with a simple English name, most languages will at least understand the name and it will yield search results. People in our profession do not search for random associative made-up terms. They search for terms that mean something to them, eg “association”, “learning”, “talent”, “training”, “development”.
In a more creative brainstorming activity, the focus is first on associations and analogy, looking for other ways to say what must be communicated. A variety of creative techniques are used. Out of this creative phase, many names are created that will be immediately filtered out in the selection phase, as they obviously do not fit to the briefing requirements.
Suggestions made in the conference backchannel today range from “The Intergalactic Association of Doing Everything” to “Global Performance Insititute”.
Not every name you create actually works
In the first selection phase, some clients immediately fall in love with a name; others see a direction that they like that must be further elaborated by the creative team.
When arriving at a shortlist of names, the second selection phase begins. Here, names are subjected to consideration by a panel of native-speaking people from the target languages to ensure they are understood as required, can be sufficiently pronounced, do not give the wrong “feeling” and do not say something bad for other language speakers.
Some years ago, Toyota famously created the brand name “MR2”. When pronounced in French, this can be heard as either “merde” (shit) or emmerdeur (someone who makes things difficult or “stirs shit”). When I heard the name for our organisation, I could imagine that all 3 words were reasonably international, translating well in terms of core meaning.
Although the order of filtering activities may differ, a cost-conscious branding agency will now conduct a domain-name availability search to see if the name (or acceptable iterations) are available for use with required root domains (.com .org etc). Until the release of “creative root domains” this exercise restricted choices enormously. Almost anything you can think of in the descriptive dictionary category of names is almost always gone or else it is far too long. It is amazing to me that A(S)TD was able to secure TD.org as the chances of even getting a 2,3,4 letter word are almost impossible. Its a shame that ATD.org was not available.
At this point, having ruled out names that cannot work, it is time for final elaboration of what is left, if anything. Here, the actual target audience is shown the name and market research is conducted to see if the name really works or not.
When I heard the name, I was extremely pleased that the scope of our activities had been enlarged to the level of “talent”. In continental Europe, many HR Directors were some years ago rebranded as “Talent Directors”; HR itself became “Talent Management”. Speaking with many American colleagues, I was surprised by their reaction. They told me that “talent” evokes for them the idea of fickle Hollywood movie stars. I also heard many people saying the focus should not have been on the people, but on the business results (“performance”). And finally, people complained that their opinion was not solicited.
Even when it works, you may not be able to use it
When the final shortlist of names has been chosen, legal and trademarking issues need to be considered. The aim of trademark registration is to protect the brand name from unfair use by other organisations.
A first search is done to see if any other organisations in relevant sectors or geographic regions are using the name itself or any close resemblance. “Resemblance” includes partially comparable words and even synonyms. This search is difficult, lengthy and costly, and must be done by legal professionals to ensure that no subsequent legal action will be taken against the company using the new name. The basic argument is: You cannot use a name that is the same as or too close to another that has been sufficiently used (or registered) by another similar company in the region you want to register your name in. If you did, you would unfairly profit from the brand-loyalty and goodwill built-up for that name by the other company. Business names can be registered in multiple domains and regions and the cost is relative to the level of protection requested.
In the case of A(S)TD, it must have been costly and difficult to find, research and protect the new name. The chances of your name NOT being used in a similar way is much lower when you are using descriptive dictionary words. These chances are further reduced when the name must be registered across multiple geographical regions.
..and when you have a name, you have a change process to do
All change is likely to causes problems, and take time and expertise. The same is true for a name, particularly so because names carry a strong sense of identity and precedence. Imagine if you had to change your own name..
Without considering logo and design issues (by the way, I love the logo… ask me why!) the name change process requires a massive amount of communication and administration. Marketing collateral like websites, print and merchandising will need to be changed and a choice must be made between replacing all iterations of the old name, removing all old-name content, or doing nothing. People need to be informed and the transition needs to be managed, from email signatures to letterheads and PPT templates.
But the hardest part of the change is getting people to adopt the new name and love it.
I have heard concerns about the financial implications of the rebrand for the chapters, as well as uncertainty about timings and process. Although people have been told that that information will arrive very quickly, I also heard complaints that it was not provided in advance to more people; people most directly affected.
In any change, some people will love it quickly and some will hate it forever. Some people will try it out immediately and others will need more time. The longer the history with “what was the case”, the less likely people will love what is new. Much has been written and taught about change management with regard to this phenomenon. And the ASTD name has a rich history! There are always complaints when a strong brand changes identity and any complaints today are therefore credit to the strength of the A(S)TD brand.
Complaints here include those who say that many opportunities were missed to announce the change to a limited group of early-adopters or influential people outside of the A(S)TD central offices. This could have helped to ease the pain of transition and could have created a bigger pool of supporters to promote the new name to others, following the full-on official announcement.
But whatever happens next, the new name is here to stay
Like a new-born arriving in a family, everything can go a little crazy. People can get moody or excited, and everyone needs support to adapt. Complaints like those noted above happen every time. But as the transition takes place over time, if the staff at A(S)TD help those affected to see the value, administrate the change and use the name well, in some time everyone will forget there was ever another name.
And whatever you think, it is there and we all have a choice to be positive or negative.
Welcome to ATD!
Thanks for reading,
ps Is someone going to refund the ASTD t-shirt I bought on Sunday?
Sally Hogshead says she can help up to fascinate people with the perfect words in 9 seconds. As I have traditionally steered away from vendor presentations at the conference, I rather arrogantly (although privately) put the Award-winning American advertising copywriter to the test immediately by offering her 9 seconds to keep me in the room. I’m still here 🙂 Let’s go for session TU118 of the ASTD2014 International Conference and Exposition…
Sally Hogshead says that many people underestimate their ability to fascinate people, but that in today’s environment we need to grab people’s attention and show value immediately. She promises me that by the time I leave the room she will give me the perfect words to describe myself. I will walk out of the room more valuable. Sounds nice!
To kick things off, we heard the story of a ride at the Disney Epcot Center where visitors are offered a choice between a green or orange ticket for the ride. If you take the green ticket, you sign up for a safe, easy ride (think kids and grannies). If you take the orange ticket, you are warned about the possibility of injury, adventure and sickness. The people who go for the orange ticket ride were seen taking pictures of themselves about to go on the ride, tweeting and sharing the experience and coming back for more, telling their friends how awesome it was. The green-ticket people just went in and came out. No fuss, no fan-fair, no brand loyalty and championship. But in fact, both had the same ride!
The greatest value you can add is to show more of who you really are
Hogshead says that people will pay more for someone they like and trust. The product and the service comes second – what counts is the person you are doing business with, the brand and the perceived added-value. In my role as a presentation skills trainer and with ideas from my life as a marketeer and brand-namer, I think talk about being FAB and showing the real WIIFM. So I’m sold on the importance of (personal) branding already. Our speaker today says that the best high performing people provide a specific benefit, they are worth more than they are being paid and they over-deliver on expectations. And if we know who we are and what value we can add, we can communicate that.
According to our speaker, many of the personality and preference tests on the market focus on who you are and how you perceive yourself. But her company offers a test to show how others see you. With that knowledge, you can choose the right words to show your value. When everyone knows what their highest value is and how to show it, they feel more empowered and work better.
At this point, I started to get cynical: On one hand, we need to show our unique value. We need to create a personal anthem (tagline) that shows the benefit of our strengths to the world. But on the other hand, Sally Hogshead says she can help me find me archetype from a pre-set matrix and give me the words to use. Surely if everyone does this, we are going to have every LinkedIn profile looking the same and full of the same anthems?!?? Where’s the uniqueness in that? So I (again arrogantly) challenged Sally on this and this is what happened:
1. She invited me up to the stage. More on this later…
2. She described me to the rest of the participants. Almost perfectly and very complete. We had only met 30 minutes before (my first challenge…. I feel so bad!) but her description was spot on: What turns me on, what turns me off. How I like to interact with people and how I like to add value…
3. She gave me words to use to describe myself: “I’m an innovator who likes to inspire people to find new ways to do things.”
49 personality archetypes
How did she do this? Sally’s answer: I gave off very distinct cues (that she picked up on) that fit into her matrix of 49 personality archetypes. 49! Not 4. It was like a magic trick, or mind-reading. She got me in an instant.
But what about this idea of fascinating in 9 seconds??
To show value to others in 9 seconds, you need to be able to tell how you are the perfect solution to their problem. To get this right, the participants were first offered the chance to take the test on HowToFascinate.com to see which of the 49 archetypes they had. Here’s mine:
For each of the 49 archetypes, Sally Hogshead’s matrix offers a set of adjectives that best describe you. Her book also offers a set of nouns. Add one of the specific adjectives for your archetype (whichever you prefer) to the right nouns (see the book, page 365) and you have your anthem. Here’s mine:
(Coming back to what I said earlier, I guess Sally invited me up because when I first met her (coming in the room) she picked up on my prestige quality – I haven’t read the book yet, but I when I hear “prestige” I also hear a need to be in the centre of things….)
So I’m a progressive ideas man. That sounds OK to me. What I plan to do now is to build this descriptor into something a little more sexy, a little more FAB and a little more me.
Watch this space!
Thanks for reading
Staying at my favourite hotel in Gent, I have been discussing with the staff ideas on how they can promote their Facebook fan page. Here are my ideas:
- Open your page to comments from people – you can always delete them later if you want, but it’s good to leave people freedom to add something. Personally, I would choose the option to allow comments to be added without moderation from you. There is no real risk if you can delete them anyway.
- Comment on the pages of local events, businesses, mentioning your FB page
- Invite your personal FB friends and ask everyone you know personally to do the same with their FB friends
- Find other people on Facebook that are commenting actively on other related pages and send them a FB message introducing your page and asking them to visit it, like it
- After you have created a bit of content and the page starts to work, send one email to all existing hotel contacts from your database telling them the page exists and asking them to like it, share it with friends or run a competition
- Add your FB site address to your email signature, invoices and other social media presence, eg Twitter account
- Publish diverse content – 2 times a week, Tuesday or Thursday +/- 7pm or during the weekend
- Plan your posts with www.Hootsuite.com so that it can happen when you are not there. That means that once a week/month, you can spend 30 minutes planning content for the coming period, rather than have to actually do it every time on Facebook
- Don’t publish so much about your own hotel. Publish more about related on-brand things that encourage people to see your hotel as a good place to be in Gent. Events, places to visit, Gent history, other restautants you like, a new movie opening up, local musicians….
- When you publish something about your hotel, make it more interesting than a photo or menu
- Ask questions, eg: “We are listening to “The Bee Gees” this morning. What’s your favourite early-morning music?”
- Do a mini interview with someone who works in the hotel
- Use a blend of media, especially short videos of max 90 seconds
- To make a network platform work, you need to ask, give and thank. Examples….
- Ask people to visit the page, like, share and leave a review. You can do that on the back of your WIFI code paper, on placemats for drinks at the bar, on papers at each place in the conference centre and fter people have stayed, sending them an email asking for like, share, review or comment.
- Run a competition, asking people to take a photo of their stay in Gent and publish on the page, then share with friends. The one with the most “likes” wins. This encourages people to share something from your page with their own FB friends, which means more visibility (and maybe likes) for your page..
- Info about on-brand things going on around Gent, eg cinema, events and ther local businesses
- When confirming bookings, tell people if they like the page they get a free coffee or other drink, a few chocolate etc..
- “Like” anything anyone adds or says
- Add comments when people comment
- Continue verbally thanking people for their effort when you see them in the hotel
Finally: My own experience tells me that if you set some targets for Facebook page success, this will motivate you to do more and get better results.
Screen video is on the rise. As people flip their classrooms, use mobile devices and seek new ways to get knowledge, learning professionals will need to master the art of screen video. Tips from Matt Pierce at Tech Knowledge in Las Vegas…
First, what is useful to record?
If you go online and try to see how tools work, there is plenty of content about the basics. These “how-to” lessons tell us the basics and answer the common questions. Focus your efforts on the difficult stuff, the errors, the specific things your people are trying to achieve. FAQs.
Ask questions to define your audience
Before you start recording, think about who is going to watch, when, how, where. Take your time to think about how this will make your content and format different. Is there one good way to do things? No… Adapt to all this!
Storyboard your screen video
If you ask Pixar or the rest of the movie world where they put the most effort in making movies, the answer is the storyboard. Think about what you are going to do in what order.
Make a script… If you need to
According to Pierce, the need for a script is proportional to your level of expertise. If you are an expert, you might be able to “wing-it” a bit more. But if you are less sure of your content, write a script. As a disclaimer, Pierce notes that the better he scripts his screen video, the more likely he will be able to tell his 5 minute story in 2 minutes. Script leads to minimum effective dose.
Remember, length is an issue
There is no correct answer to how long a screen video should be. But as a general rule, the shorter the better (provided it is effective). Focus on key messages. If you need to make 3 short films, this might be better than one long one. If you can provide references in your video where people can get more info, this is also a good way to shorten the video.
Bad audio ruins good video
According to Matt Pierce audio IS an issue. If you have taken the time to capture the screen well, put effort into the audio too. Get a USB microphone for your PC to avoid the fan sound. If you are using a headset (and don’t need to listen as well) flip the microphone around so its underneath your mouth, not in front of it. And get rid of as much noise pollution as possible…
Don’t worry about the sound of your voice
Options number one is to simply get over it. This will be easier if you realise that what you hear is not what others hear. But there is another option: Get someone else to speak!
Don’t show big chunks of text in your video
People don’t expect a lot of text in screen videos. They like image and movement. If you must put text, keep it short and build it up. Whatever happens, avoid big text!
Use your voice as a tool
No-one wants to hear you talking like you read. Your voice has volume, intonation, speed and articulation. Use these elements to modulate your voice and bring attention to specific parts. This will create better understanding and keep attention. Just like in a presentation…
Be careful with humour… it’s subjective
The best way to gauge humour is to get pre-back or feedback. See what works with your audience. Ask them. Do a dry-run or publish for 1 or 2 people before you release for everyone.
Think about screen size
According to Pierce, most modern devices will have a wide screen. But in reality, people use different devices to look at different content. Again, there are no golden rules. You need to know your audience.. Whatever you do, start with good quality and be consistent in size-usage across the record/edit/produce cycle. Pierce suggests 1280*720 (or bigger) for all steps. You can always make it smaller later…
Be mindful of what you show around the things you are actually teaching
Get rid of other applications so people can’t see what else you are up to (Facebook!). Turn off any and all notifications – you don’t want to ruin all your best efforts by having an email pop-up while you record your screen. Pierce suggests even having another computer used only for screen recording to avoid any issues.
Balance translation efforts to expected ROI of the learning
If you work in a multinational environment, you might have different languages in your target groups. What are the options for dealing with this? What can you do to reduce viewer effort?
Be careful with music
Jingles are very popular for the marketing department, who want to put it at the start and end of every educational video. But the user will soon get sick of it. Transition music between main chunks of information is good to create and re-win user attention. But whatever you do, don’t fill the video background with music. It doesn’t work!
Change your mouse settings
Two simple tips: Make your mouse-cursor bigger and slow down the mouse movement speed. Both of these will make it easier for others to follow what you are actually doing.
Use transitions well
First of all: Use them. A visual transition helps to create and re-win attention. But what is most important is that the transitions you use should have meaning (they happen between topics, for example) and be consistent (use the same transitions to show the same structural changes).
Apply the rule of thirds, especially when filming people
Read about this here: http://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds
Thanks for reading!
Mark Britz is introducing the first TKChat at #astdTK14 on the topic of “Building Communities”. Armed with our 2 experts Jane Bozarth and Mark Oehlert it’s time to find out how to make those communities work…
To get the ball rolling @britz asks Jane and Mark to first clarify the meaning of “community”. What does this word mean?
Managers think of communities as another channel to force content top-down onto employees. Others are trying to create teams and better teamwork. But according to our speakers, community is really about purpose and common needs and objectives. With free will, people get together to share and make things happen. When you get started with building a community, you need therefore to first find that shared sense of purpose.
How do you get started with building an organisational community?
Oehlert says that the very first thing to do is to see what is already going on in the organisation. Does the community already exist? Learning people don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at the organisation and see what communities already exist. Then ask yourself: “How can we better support that?”
Once you are ready to go, it is important to be clear about the added-value of creating (or formalising) the community. If you can’t iterate the added-value of the community to people, they won’t use it.
What are the keys to making things work with a community?
First of all, Jane says that we must not just use the tool that comes with the LMS because it comes with the LMS. Look to see where people are currently getting in contact with each other and go there.
Secondly, realise that it’s not because you build it that they will come. Community building takes time. People are not going to be hyper-active with their sharing and asking just because you made a new tool.
This leads to the third point: Community management takes time as well. Someone needs to be there to stoke the fire, to encourage people and to show (online) community best-practice.
How can we encourage people to start using community tools, share and narrate their work?
Start by finding out what is going wrong in people’s jobs, where they have troubles and how community activity could help. This will give you a way in and direction for content-sharing.
It would be easy to say that the community doesn’t work just because the culture isn’t ready. Any ideas?
Despite the fact that young people obviously dig sharing in communities, that doesn’t mean that other people don’t. Oehlert says that everyone is in some kind of community. Maybe not online, but somewhere they are talking with like-minded people, whether it be on a mum-sharing site, a local town community organisation or elsewhere. They do know the value of a community and they probably know how to use one. We just need to get it working at work…
On the other hand, Jane adds that if your organisation doesn’t share already, having a online community is not going to make it happen. First work on breaking down silos and getting people willing to share.
Should we be controlling how communities function?
Mark Oehlert’s first response is that you have to let the community grow in an organic way. If it moves in one direction and that brings value, let it be. And even if people start sharing less business-valuable content, they are still sharing.
Secondly, it is important to realise that the new community tools we have today are not the issue when it comes to control. Control issues have always existed. If you have email or telephone, you have the risk of people sharing things in ways they should not. These new tools might make content sharing faster or larger (hence the risk is bigger) but if you had this “under Conti,” already and if people were professional, honest and useful already, they will be on the new tool.
To finish this answer, Mark Oehlert adds that the best way to help things go in the right direction is to “walk the talk”. Share the things you want to see shared. Act the any you want other people to act.
Should we have a big funky roll-out for the new tool?
Jane Bozarth says this approach to kicking off a new community tool is dangerous. If you are going to start, start small and build it up. Look for people who have the community spirit and ask the to get involved. Start with content and sharing around something useful, so that when other people come to the tool they will find good content. This will encourage them.
How can you create the best user-experience?
Don’t just implement the tool you bought. Think about how people want to interact with the tool. Take the time to customise menu possibilities … after you get lots of feedback from the users about what they want!
What should we be measuring in order to see if the community adds value?
If you did the first step well (defining purpose) and if you have a good sense of business acumen then you should already know what you should be measuring. In addition to the usual things to measure (traffic, content and continuity) try to think about what the managers are thinking about:
Other pieces of mine that might be interesting…
Thanks for reading
One day, a client told his consultant: “I have a problem. Can you help?”
The consultant replied: “If you want to discuss new solutions, please call me Resource Manager, Pierre.”
The next day, the client repeated his question to a competing consultant, working on the same project.
This consultant replied: “Is it about Java?” and when the client said “No”, the conversation slowly died.
On day 3, the frustrated client spoke with another consultant, again from a competing firm: “I have a problem. Can you help?”
Exercising beautiful active empathy skills, the consultant found out exactly what the client needed.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a problem he could solve.
On day 4, the client met the consultant he had been waiting for. Having successfully understood the problem, but out of his own area of expertise, this consultant took the issue away and into his wider network. His colleagues were able to take the ball and run with it. A few weeks later, he went back to his client to see how things had progressed. Client happy.
Are you the consultant we have been waiting for?