Professional Communication and Presentation Class Commandments

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Today, a really strong team of students put together and presented a “Mini Discussion” about the TED Commandments, why these presentation rules are important, and how those rules apply to all presenters.

To conclude their presentation, the group asked us to think about our own class commandments for Professional Communication and Presentation.  Here are my favorite 5 of the 10:

Thou shalt respect the audience.

Thou shalt “get naked” with delivery.

Thou shalt interact.

Thou shalt not rely on PowerPoint slides.

Thou shalt always be prepared.

Some of the commandments we wrote on the board are our silly class inside jokes, but most of our tips are incredibly helpful for communicating and presenting effectively.

Here is the Mini Discussion team comprised of Fiifi, Kim, Emily, and Joe posting with the Class Commandments:

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And here is the rest of my wonderful class courtesy of a panoramic photo I had no idea my phone was capable of capturing:

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What great things have your students been up to lately?

Currently Reading…

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Although it’s only the 9th of June, this month has been filled with new classes to teach, a Junior League leadership training and many meetings to kick off the new League year, a course reboot for Professional Communication and Presentation, and my summer class at UCF on Communication and Conflict among about a dozen other things.  Fortunately, this Conflict class comes at a perfect time, as I’ve finally decided on a direction for my graduate thesis.  I’m spending this summer writing a research paper proposal in Conflict, and this proposal will transform into my thesis under the direction of my advisor and my committee.

My thesis is about female leadership and the challenges women face when their “female” identity conflicts with their “leader” identity.  I am still in the beginning stages of the thesis process, so I checked out some library books to help me find my direction…

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Sheryl Sandberg and Brene Brown’s books were obvious choices after watching their TED presentations and hearing about them in the news.  I stumbled upon How Remarkable Women Lead by Barsh and Cranston as well as Why The Best Man For The Job Is A Woman by Esther Wachs Book simply because of their titles.  I have one book coming in from Cocoa through inter-library loan and a few books waiting for me on the shelves at the UCF library.

Would you suggest any additional books I might read as I develop the direction for my thesis on women, leadership, and communication?

The Key to Credibility is…

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Alex Rister:

Another entry on Prezi’s Top 100 Presentation Resources list is my superteacher partner in crime, Chiara Ojeda of Tweak Your Slides. Check out this post she wrote yesterday on empathy using two great videos, one animating Brene Brown’s work…

Originally posted on Tweak Your Slides:

Empathy! Yep, that’s right–not credentials, expertise, title, or extensive research. The key to achieving strong credibility with your audience is to empathize with them. Why is this? Because, empathizing with the audience helps speakers achieve the type of true credibility Aristotle describes in Rhetoric:

“We believe good men more fully and more readily than others: this is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely true where exact certainty is impossible and opinions are divided. . . his character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion he possesses.” Aristotle, Rhetoric

True credibility comes from a person who is “good,” a person of good character. Empathy, the ability to become your audience’s needs, wants, values, fears, and desires, is key to conveying good character. A presenter who can empathize with his or her audience is truthful–no one likes to be lied to; a presenter who is empathetic conveys…

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Simon Sinek’s “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe”

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Simon Sinek has done it again!  “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe” is a new TED Talk by the speaker who gave us wildly popular “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” or the “Start With Why” speech.  This March 2014 presentation is not to be missed.  Check it out below:

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This speech emphasizes trust and safety as the keys to establishing leadership in a company or business.  If employees live in a culture of constant fear, if they feel they could lose their job at any moment if they don’t abide by the rules or the chain of command, leadership is not good if it can be called “leadership” at all.

Sinek teaches us that good leadership is about nurturing and opportunity, education and discipline, as well as a focus on building self-confidence.  He says if an employee at a company with good leadership is having performance issues, that company focuses on coaching and support.  He also says good leaders sacrifice numbers for people.  Companies with strong leadership know that people are the bottom line and not money.  Sinek tells story after story after story of companies with leadership that empowers people.  You have got to watch his Talk.

Leadership is infinitely fascinating to me.  I recently shared several articles I’ve been reading in the last edition of Links of the Week.  I began a new leadership training at my company today.  Yesterday, I had a meeting with my professor to flesh out my leadership-centered graduate thesis topic.  I can never read enough or learn enough on the topic, and I think I am most curious because I see leadership and presentation/communication skills so closely linked.

What great resources on leadership have you enjoyed lately?  Did you like this Sinek talk on leadership as much as his first TED presentation?

Conference on College Composition and Communication

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Yesterday, Chiara Ojeda and I submitted our presentation proposal for the Conference on College Composition and Communication which will be held in March 2015 in Tampa.  Learn more about the conference here.  Learn more about the National Council of Teachers of English here.

Our proposal combined all of the work we’ve been doing for our Professional Communication and Presentation class in the past few years with the hopes of sharing these best practices with other teachers in our field.  Check out our proposed session below.

Redefining Paradigms of Professionalism:

Personal Branding, Online Identities, and the New World of Work

Traditional college courses in professional communication focus on teaching students best practices for creating documents such as emails, memos, and reports as well as resumes and cover letters.  However, many of these materials relate to an outdated model of work.  In our new world of work defined by innovative and conceptual thinking, we must focus on teaching students skills they can utilize to thrive in an evolving, fast-paced, demanding professional environment.  Developing a professional identity and using communication and presentation tools to communicate that online identity with others is essential.  While branding has historically been linked to a business product or service, thought-leaders Nancy Duarte, Seth Godin, and Pamela Slim among others emphasize the importance of a personal brand that clearly defines how one’s experiences communicate his or her professional mission.  Students must develop a coherent body of work showing who they are as professionals, targeting a specific audience, linking all of their past experiences together, and providing supporting examples.

In “From Cattle and Coke to Charlie: Meeting the Challenge of Self Marketing and Personal Branding,” Ifan D. H. Shepherd explains that despite its popularity in business, entertainment, and politics, personal branding has not yet made its way into college curriculum or class textbooks largely because little academic research has been conducted in this area.  Personal branding recently made an appearance in the Journal of Internet Commerce.  Chih-Ping Chen’s qualitative study “Exploring Personal Branding on YouTube” links social media and personal branding.  Chen’s results indicated the growing importance of individual brands due to the increased permanency and variety of digital and social media environments.

Creating a recognizable and sharable personal brand revolving around a comprehensive body of work requires sacrifice and risk. Professionals must share their triumphs, failures, and areas of weakness/growth with the world–this level of vulnerability is intimidating. As budding professionals, students must also relinquish their old views of work, particularly the view that work is a stable, linear process. Teachers too face risk when implementing these practices. Educators must let go of traditional modes of teaching professional communication in order to find solutions that better prepare students for the new world of work. However, the reward is great: increased job, professional, and networking opportunities for students; strengthened learning outcomes, course structures, and learning-centered assessment for educators.

In this session, specific topics will include the process for creating a body of work (what to share, how to share it); self-analysis and critical thinking (identifying a target audience, creating a brand mantra, developing a through-line story to tie experiences together, defining your competitive advantage, and determining what evidence supports the overall body of work); as well as the presentation of the body of work (through the visual resume and articulating that vision in person or online via social media).

 

Works Cited

Chen, Chih-Ping.  “Exploring Personal Branding on YouTube.”  Journal of Internet Commerce.  12.4 (2013): 332-347.  Print.

Duarte, Nancy. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2010. Print.

Godin, Seth. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?. New York: Portfolio, 2010. Print.

Shepherd, Ifan D. H. “From Cattle to Coke to Charlie: Meeting the Challenge of Self Marketing and Personal Branding.”  Journal of Marketing Management.  21.5/6 (2005): 589-606.

Slim, Pamela. Body of Work: Finding the Thread that Ties Your Story Together. New York, N.Y.: Portfolio, 2013. Print.

Slim, Pamela. Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur. New York, N.Y.: Portfolio, 2009. Print.

What do you think?  Would you attend a conference presentation based on our proposal?  If we are accepted, what should we be sure to?  What would you like to learn by attending a session like this? 

Links of the Week: 2014.08

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This week, I’d like to share some great articles on leadership and management.  As I am transitioning into my new position as Vice President of Marketing and Communications with my volunteer organization this month, I have been reading and studying leadership best practices.

I’ve also been thinking back to great leaders I’ve worked with and comparing them with not so great leaders to really help me define what kind of VP I want to be.  INC.com’s Jeff Haden compiled a list of the top 50 leadership and management experts.  This list is excellent because it lets me know the thought-leaders in the field I should be reading up on and following on social media.  Some of my favorites made the list (Nancy Duarte, Sheryl Sandberg, Susan Cain, Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Dan Pink, Simon Sinek, John Maxwell), and I was also introduced to so many new people.  It does disappoint me to see so few women on the list; however, many of the women I would have added are professors.  Haden’s list was compiled to find “globally the most popular management and leadership writers in the English language.  In other words, we did not focus on local countries or languages; we did not focus on teachers, professors, or CEOs; and we did not measure any other topics besides management and leadership” (Source).

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Since Haden’s article focused on the English language and American culture, “How To Lead Well Across Cultures” from Forbes was important for me to check out.  Power distance was the central focus.  Power distance was defined for the purposes of the article as “the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations accept and expect that power is distributed equally” (Source).  That got me thinking about the kinds of meetings I want to lead as VP of Marketing and Communications.  I want to facilitate round-table meetings where we all brainstorm, think, and talk through issues together.  Sharing the power requires confidence in yourself and your team, and this can be a difficult task.  I think back to all of the leaders I’ve worked with in the past both at work, at school, and at my volunteer “jobs.”  In my experience, my favorite leaders have emphasized collaboration and an open, honest space to share ideas.

In “Great Leadership: 7 Traits Of True Leadership,” Leigh Buchanan explains what I love collaborative, team-focused leaders.  She says the most important traits of a leader include empathy, vulnerability, humility, inclusiveness, generosity, balance, and patience (Source).  These are qualities I would assign to the strongest leaders I’ve worked with in the past.  The best boss I’ve ever had supported me by listening to me and making my needs a priority; challenging and pushing me to be better and stronger at my job; and including me in times of important decision-making.  Even though she was my boss and my superior, she trusted my input and ideas.  She earned the respect of everyone around her by showing people that same respect along with support and love.  She is the kind of leader I want to be and will work hard to be.

What qualities do you look for in a strong, effective leader?  Which of these new experts on Haden’s list of 50 leadership/management experts should I start reading about and studying?

Dr. Emdin’s “Teach Teachers How To Create Magic”

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Dr. Christopher Emdin‘s hook got me.  He tells the story of an aspiring teacher writing a 60-page paper about a super old education theory developed by a long-dead man and wondering what in the world that paper has to do with her future career goals and aspirations.

As a graduate student AND a full time teacher, this is something I’ve too often experienced.  I’ve found that research-based universities (the big universities such as the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida) are concerned with just that: research.  Teaching duties are secondary to research and publication, conferences and journals.  Research-based universities employ scholars: the thinkers, philosophers, and inventors of our day.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have learning-centered institutions (formerly community colleges, now state colleges, such as Valencia College or Seminole State College).  These colleges are concerned with teaching and learning.  Check out Valencia’s learning-centered mission statement here.  As opposed to research, faculty members at learning-centered institutions are expected to be strong teachers.  Teaching is the primary goal, not the means to an end.

As Dr. Edmin’s introduction continues (watch him continue this train of thought until 1:30), he asks us to focus on this research-based university system which, from personal experience I can agree, trains students how to become scholars and researchers.  Teachers aren’t focused on engaging students or on creating magic in the classroom to inspire learning.  And Dr. Edmin thinks that is a bad thing.

You may be wondering who Dr. Emdin is.  A professor at Columbia University and a Director of Science Education for the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education, Dr. Emdin is a superteacher.  He is the creator of the Hip Hop Ed social movement and has also collaborated with Wu Tang Clan’s GZA and the website Rap Genius on an initiative designed to engage students in science through hip hop battles.  Watch Dr. Emdin’s TEDx Talk below:

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His argument is that superteachers aren’t often found in the classroom.  We know from people like Dr. John Medina, Garr Reynolds, and Nancy Duarte that great presenters (and great teachers) are storytellers, engaging presenters who focus on delivering content in an audience-centered fashion.  Superteachers and super-presenters are bound, linked, tied together, and this is a huge reason why I live and breathe public speaking and presentation.  Dr. Emdin says teachers are educated on theories and standards, but they have no idea how to develop that magic in the classroom, and that magic comes from careful study of effective communication and presentation techniques.  If we ditched education curriculum and replaced it with books like Brain RulesPresentation Zen, and Resonate, imagine the classrooms filled with students on the edge of their seats, excited and ready to learn.

Just like Sir Ken Robinson, Dr. Christopher Emdin sees that the system of education is broken.  His solution: teaching teachers how to develop “that magic” (as he calls it).  Dr. Emdin’s solution is that we should study effective presentation content and delivery, and I wholeheartedly agree.

What advice or suggestions would you give a new teacher to help her become a superteacher?

M.A. Update: Thesis Preparation

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When I began teaching Professional Communication and Presentation as well as Public Speaking, I decided to go back to school to obtain 18 graduate hours in the Communication discipline.  Little did I know I would quickly fall in love with my program and my professors.  My quest for 6 classes has now turned into the goal of a second master’s degree.  Today, I presented and submitted my final paper for the class that marks the halfway point in my M.A. in Communication.

Reflecting back on what I’ve learned so far is essential as I move forward with the next phase in my studies: the thesis process.  I’ve begun thinking about my topic and my committee as well as my potential research interests.  I want to make sure my thesis will include content I can build upon in the future.  For about a year now, I’ve kept a running list of potential topics, things I like, things I read about in my spare time, things I’m interested in.  I also started keeping a Pinterest board of fascinating popular press articles.  These articles and my list helped to inform the direction my thesis will take.

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So far, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am a qualitative versus quantitative researcher.  I also know that I am a social constructionist, and because of my background and my first M.A. in English Literature, I gravitate toward critical theories.  For the past few months, I’ve been studying and reading about many modern communication theories in Theories of Human Communication by Littlejohn and Foss.  I added the theories and theorists that interested me the most to my ongoing list of potential thesis topics.  Theorists I enjoy include Goffman, Butler, Buber, and Bakhtin.  I have recently studied facework as well as standpoint theory, and my favorite theory from a previous course was dialogue.  Tonight in class, the most fascinating fellow student paper was on Kenneth Burke.  There are so many ideas still swimming in my head that it will take me another few months to finalize and figure out my direction.  My goal is to have my thesis topic nailed down at the end of the summer.

For my remaining coursework, I am taking two core classes: Qualitative Research Methods and Statistics.  I am very excited about Qualitative.  Since the thought of taking Statistics at the graduate level is enough to make me want to drop out of college (kidding… kind of), I was happy to hear from our graduate coordinator that I could take a Sociology Statistics class focusing on application in the social sciences.  My remaining electives will be Communication and Conflict, Communication in Close Relationships, and a course from the Women’s Studies Division called Theories in Gender Studies.  It’s hard to imagine after only a few additional classes, I will have another degree and be one step closer to a Ph.D. in Communication.

It’s that time of year… Students are in the home stretch before graduation.  Are you one of them?  Or are you, like me, in the middle of a degree program?  Please share your experience with me in the “Comments” section.

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Can We Have It All?”

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One of my research interests, certainly inspired by Sheryl Sandberg, is this idea of female leadership in the workplace.  What identity do female leaders construct and share with others?  What “self” are they creating and presenting to the world?

Anne-Marie Slaughter‘s “Can We Have It All?” tackles an important question about women in the workplace.  She argues that no, we women can’t have it all.  Watch her moving TED Talk below:

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Slaughter opens with a powerful story that just punches me right in the gut.  As a woman without children who is dedicated to her career, I can’t fathom the decision she made.  And that’s what her entire presentation is about.

Slaughter talks about the measure of a woman’s success – being at the “top” of her career.  I agree that this is one major way I measure my own success as a woman.  She says we have to rethink this so that “success,” and she presents her big idea at about the 4:00 mark.  Then, she moves into why we should adapt a new solution and how we can do it as humanists – not as feminists.

Learn more about Slaughter’s perspective in “Elite Women Put a New Spin on an Old Debate” by the New York Times and NPR’s “The Impossible Juggling Act: Motherhood and Work.”

Did you watch any great TED Talks over the weekend?

Skillshare: Your New Favorite Website

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If Lynda.com‘s hipper, artsier younger sister and a MOOC had a baby, that baby would be Skillshare.  Skillshare’s manifesto is as follows:

“Education is what someone tells you to do. Learning is what you do for yourself.”

Sir Ken Robinson delivered a TED Talk called “Schools Kill Creativity.”  Education is a stuffy classroom with a syllabus, rules, guidelines, and assignments.  A teacher at the front of the room lectures using slides filled with bullets.  After 10 minutes, the students’ brains shut off.  Little learning actually happens.  I believe Skillshare is giving “education” a great new direction to help remedy that.  Take a look at this short video to learn more about what the folks at Skillshare are doing.

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From personal experience, I know “learning” is much better than “education.”  When I was first introduced to Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds, learning about a new way to present information lit a fire under me.  My passion for the subject lead to countless hours reading, studying, writing.  I began this blog three years ago today because of the fire I felt for learning how to communicate and present successfully in the 21st century.  I was so fired up that I decided to go back to school to pursue a second M.A. in Communication.  While my education has been wonderful, my education was designed to mold me into a researcher and scholar.  My education was not something I could apply in the real world but something that would help me on my path to a Ph.D. in Communication.  The learning I was doing on my own resulted in a practical application at my job and helped me become a better, stronger teacher and communicator.  For me, the gulf between “education” and “learning” is wider than ever.

I had the wonderful opportunity to try a class for free on Skillshare.  Seth Godin has now developed two courses: “The New Business Toolbox: Help Your New Business Do It Right The First Time” and “The Modern Marketing Workshop.”  (Skillshare, you had me at “Seth Godin!”)  I am enrolled in the latter course, and I love it.

Skillshare focuses on teaching students the way that they learn.  I’m seeing short, 10 minute video lessons combined with activities to teach software and subjects like fashion, graphic design, and painting.  With such an intense focus on courses crafted by industry leaders and a commitment to practical application in the real world, Skillshare’s biggest appeal is that it’s current, relevant, and useful.  To learn more about Skillshare, check out their website here.

Have you taken a Skillshare class yet?  Share your experience with me!