Currently Reading…


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…


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?


Currently Reading: How To Deliver A TED Talk


Summertime in Florida means plenty of trips to the beach.  So far this summer, I’ve been to New Smyrna, Cocoa Beach, and Honeymoon Island in Dunedin.  All of this beaching for me means relaxing with a book.  I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (disappointing) and started reading the book my brother gave me called Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami (amazing).  Mostly, though, I stick to nonfiction.

While beaching with my husband, I re-read Jeremey Donovan’s How To Deliver A TED Talk with a focus on the upcoming revamp of Professional Communication and Presentation.  I highlighted many places that link our current class (a presentation class using Nancy Duarte’s Resonate) with our future class (a self presentation class based on Pamela Slim’s Body Of Work).


Re-reading Donovan’s book with a focus on how to blend the old class with the new made me pick up on vastly different pages and excerpts than when I read it the first time.  For example, I want to explain that communicating your professional persona and being able to present yourself and your personal brand to others is a challenge in the era of social media and texting.  Donovan says, “Those who learn how to communicate offline will have a better chance of being heard and of making a difference in an ever-more crowded world” (Source).  This really struck a chord with me, and I began to see how the blend of old class and new class might make sense structurally.

Donovan’s Tip #1 in the book, “Everybody has an idea worth spreading” is key for the revamp of Professional Communication and Presentation because everyone must also be able to spread their professional persona and to make their personal brand into a story or an idea worth sharing.  His second tip on developing a “speaking persona” resonated with me because I think that in class, we can link a professional persona with a speaking persona.  Donovan gives a list of categories of speaking personas that I think any student can understand and connect with.  I have an idea for a revamp of our old TED Analysis Presentation assignment in asking students to figure out what their speaking persona will be and finding a TED Talk with a speaker whose persona is similar to their own.  This will help incorporate TED Talks into the class with a focus this time on professional and speaking personas.

I also liked Donovan’s section in Chapter 1’s “Organizing Your Talk” on story, so I think another presentation my students can focus on in the reboot of the class is developing a compelling narrative that inspires and connects with the audience’s deepest rooted needs and desires.  Chapter Two’s Prompts on pages 48-50 can serve as an exercise and a basis for narrative presentations at the beginning of the new Professional Communication and Presentation class which will feed into the overall narrative students will tell in their Professional Persona Projects based on Slim’s Body of Work.

What was your favorite part of Donovan’s How To Deliver A TED Talk?  Can you make any additional connections between Donovan’s book and Slim’s Body of Work?

Review: Dan Roam’s Show And Tell


When a book receives acclaim from Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds, and Guy Kawasaki, I know it’s going to be good.  After reading Dan Roam’s Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations over the weekend, I can confirm that yes, the book is good.

Dan Roam is a communications expert who believes our presentations aren’t as powerful as they could be because we don’t use enough stories and pictures.  His two previous books, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas With Pictures and Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work ask us to incorporate more visual communication in our everyday lives.  Just like those previous books, Show and Tell includes Roam’s signature look: hand-drawn pictures.  Unlike his previous books, Show and Tell focuses specifically on the presentation medium.


Roam begins by laying out three rules for effective presentations: 1) tell the truth, 2) tell it with a story, 3) tell the story with pictures.  This simplicity really helps, and I can see these ideas connecting with my students who don’t have a lot of public speaking and presentation experience.  However, I found that these simple ideas aren’t just for new presenters.  As someone who presents for a living, who teaches public speaking and presentation for a living, and who studies effective communication and presentation on the side, I can say I learned quite a bit from this text.  It really helps me to hear a perspective like Roam’s because I can use it to teach my students in the campus and online classroom environments.  Explaining things the way Roam does may help me connect with more students in a more powerful fashion.

How?  Well, first, I can use three tools Roam teaches us in his preface: a pyramid to help my students with the truth; an outline to help with stories; and a pie to help with the pictures.  So far, the only tool I am using with my students is an outline.  I would love to teach them to back up and pyramid their presentation first and to use that pie instead of a storyboard after their outline has been completed.  I also really liked Roam’s “Bucket Rule,” which I think is one of the strongest explanations of idea + presenter + audience that I’ve ever heard.

An important piece of Roam’s book was that it applied to almost any presentation.  The author has experience in management-consulting for a variety of clients such as Google, Boeing, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, and even the US Navy and Senate.  Because of his vast experience with a variety of different companies and organizations, Roam’s book examines wider range of presentations than I’ve seen before.  For example, he says 100% of presentations can be created and delivered using four storylines: 1) report, 2) explanation, 3) pitch, and 4) drama.  These four structures can help my students see that no matter the type of presentation, this approach will always work.  I like this because my students do sometimes have a hard time seeing how the approach I teach them in class will apply to the presentation they deliver in their next class, their Final Project pitch, or a Skype interview.  Roam also shows us four shapes that match the four storylines, and this reminds me of the Kurt Vonnegut “shape of stories” post I shared with you a few days ago.  Some of my students feel like learning about organization and structure becomes boring and frustrating, so I think the “PUMA” shape Roam shares is an effective tool I can use in the classroom.



In Chapter 4, Roam introduces slides, and his advice is on point with anything you’d hear from Duarte and Reynolds.  He also points out that during his explanation of each of the four storylines (report, explanation, pitch, and drama), he has created strong slides to go with each main point.  Chapter 4 examines each of the different types of visual aids (flowchart, equation, portrait) and explains when and how to use each one.

Chapter 5 touches on presentation anxiety, but I did feel this section seemed like a bit of an afterthought.  If Roam had been going into delivery in more detail, the presentation anxiety chapter would have felt like a natural tie-in.  Standing on its own, with no advice about effective delivery, this chapter did leave the last “leg” of the presentation stool unexplained.  I would have liked to see more information about strong, powerful delivery to go along with detailed chapters on content and slides.

One final drawback was that there was no mention of an online presentation via Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, etc.  Since Roam covered so many other types of presentations (a cooking show, the commentary of a sports game, TED Talks, a report at a meeting), at least one mention or example of an online presentation would have been helpful.  For my students, especially my online students, practical examples of the 21st century communication they will be doing in the future is incredibly helpful.  Interviews, meetings, and presentations online are increasingly common, and this is one thing I feel many books on public speaking and presentation leave out.

I enjoyed Show and Tell more than any other Dan Roam book, and I would recommend it for both beginning and advanced presenters.  Read my previous blog posts about Roam and his work here.

Have you read Dan Roam’s latest book yet?  What did you think?

Currently Reading: Dan Roam’s Show And Tell


Today’s rainy Friday was the perfect day to receive a copy of Dan Roam‘s new book in the mail.  Titled Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations, Roam’s latest release uses visual communication, Roam’s area of expertise, to explain how we can become stronger speakers and communicators.


Flipping through the first few pages, this book definitely embodies Roam’s signature style and look (think Back of the Napkin and Blah, Blah, Blah), and the advice is clear and simple.  I will be back on Monday with my review.

As you’re waiting, check out this book preview from the author himself:


Have you read Roam’s newest release yet?  Are you excited he published a presentation-specific book?

Currently Reading: Idea Stormers


As I mentioned last week, I was excited for the arrival of Bryan W. Mattimore’s Idea Stormers: How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs.  Today, while I was on the phone with Chiara Ojeda discussing a new project, my book arrived.


When I opened up the front cover, I realized that I had a copy signed by the author and dated 1/22/2013!  How lucky is that?

The table of contents includes the following chapters:

“A Map of the Creative Mind”

“Beyond Brainstorming”

“Your Ideation Tool Kit”

“Innovation Overview”

“Real-World Challenges”

“Idea Meets World”


“Thinking Like a Facilitating Leader” (in multiple parts)

Judging by the Table of Contents, the book seems to be exactly to what I’m looking for: a way to lead more creative, innovative meetings with a common goal of solving specific JLGO problems.  I can’t wait to begin reading it this weekend.

What great books have you been reading lately?  Would you suggest I read any other books on leading effective meetings?

Review: Pamela Slim’s Body of Work


When I first heard of Pamela Slim’s Body of Work in January, I knew I had to purchase a copy.  I didn’t know how the book would change my own perspective on work AND the lessons I teach my students.  After reading BOW in one sitting, I felt so inspired that my fellow superteacher Chiara Ojeda and I revamped our entire Professional Communication and Presentation course with a focus on students “finding the thread that ties their story together” (Source).  Learn more about our new class focus here.

Body of Work isn’t just for communication teachers and college students… Reading the front and back book cover reveals praise from Brene Brown, Susan Cain, Dan Pink, Nancy Duarte, and Seth Godin.  Like the people featured on her book cover, Pamela Slim is a communication professional and a thought leader.  Having read books by Pink, Duarte, and Godin in the past and having watched Brown and Cain’s TED Talks, the praise means something to me.  These quotes come from my mentors, the people I follow and study on a daily basis.  Words and phrases such as “warm and wise,” “savvy and practical,” “inspiring,” “heartfelt, practical, and actionable” are used to describe Slim and the book.  And, after reading Body of Work, I can affirm that the high praise by some of my favorite people is backed up by some strong content.


Body of Work will be a highly individualized book in that its goal is to help each reader uncover and tell his/her work story.  The text is divided into 9 chapters beginning with “Your Body of Work,” a chapter that starts with why and gives a definition for this term.  After we understand why and what, Slim uses examples as well as exercises (think workbook) in the next few chapters to guide readers through the process of defining and explaining your body of work.  I also like Slim’s approach of asking her audience questions in many places to help us really dive into the task of defining our roots, naming our ingredients, and choosing our work mode.  See the Table of Contents, and read an excerpt from the book here.

In her interview with Slim, Nancy Duarte uses words like “super informative,” “transparent” and “open” to describe her experience with Body of Work.  Slim explains her inspiration and idea for the book in the interview beginning at the 1:00 mark and the “new world of work” at 3:25.  The entire 11-minute interview gives deeper inside into the text, so check it out below:


Duarte mentions that Slim’s career has been about showing people their purpose and meaning in life, and this book did just that for me.  Here’s how…

First, I defined my roots.  I did exercises to understand my values and beliefs; the problems I want to solve; and the driving force for my actions and behaviors.  The book came at a perfect time in my life because last week, I had a meeting with a co-worker named David Morillo to discuss a leadership training he was developing.  He asked me (and will ask his audience) to go through an activity designed to isolate my most important core values.  Of course, it was no surprise to me that I chose “growth” and “volunteerism” over all other options.  As a lifelong learner, I believe in hard work and a growth mindset, so constantly improving and advancing myself and my knowledge base is what drives me each and every day.  I thank my parents for cultivating this in me, and I think it is one of the most important values I could ever have as a teacher.  That growth value helps me shape and mold my students even through resistance because it is such a huge part of who I am as a worker and leader.  Volunteerism is the second most important value in my life (even over other values like “family” and “fairness,” “fun” and “creativity”).  This value is influenced by my upbringing in the South, my close relationship with my servant-minded grandmother, my love and commitment to other people, and my community college education with a focus on leadership and service.  These two values emerged through the leadership activity but also came out over and over again through the questions Slim asks on pages 22-25 of Chapter 2 “Define Your Roots” and her “Identify Your Roots” exercise on pages 30-34.  Since knowing your core values, your roots, is an essential part of your body of work, this second chapter was my favorite.  Read more about my roots and see how I share the story of my roots with other people here.

Second, Slim asks us to focus on our ingredients.  These are our roles, skills, strengths, experience, values, and scars or weaknesses.  I spend quite a bit of time documenting these on my CV, but some people never keep track of these!  Her third chapter helps people who don’t make notes and keep meticulous records of work experience AND explains how our roots tie to those ingredients.  In her next chapter, Slim asks us to consider our preferred work “mode,” which, again, ties to the work in previous chapters.

The next chapters, “Create and Innovate” and “Surf the Fear” felt unnecessary for me personally.  Maybe this is because growth and innovation and creativity and challenge seep into my everyday activities and way of life.  I did take a lot away from “The 20X Rule” Slim defines on pages 97-99.  She talks about this concept in her previous book, and you can read more about it here.  However, I do think many people can benefit from reading Chapters 5 and 6, especially those who may not have my same values and life outlook.

I got right back into the book with Chapter 7’s “Collaborate.”  In order to be my best self, I need to be pushed by other people who are doing inspiring things.  This inspiration and collaboration can come from students or colleagues, or it can come from reading books and blogs.  Slim talks about this “ecosystem” idea on page 137.  I can step back and consider the presentation/communication ecosystem I am involved with and feel the resonance of that section.  Since I do meet and network with people intrinsically, I found the most value in the “Identify a Peer Mentor Circle” exercise more than the how/why to network section.

The final chapters on “Your Definition of Success” and “Share Your Story” went hand-in-hand for me because they are the stages I’m in now.  I share my story and my body of work with others here.  Body of Work is an essential book for 21st century employees who want to craft and share their story with others.  Since both Duarte and Slim have a “body of work” concentrating on the importance of story, I wanted to leave you with this final thought from their interview:  It is important to realize that everything that you share – including on social media – does become a story whether you think about it or not, and everything said in a public forum does communicate something about who you are and your personal brand (Source).

Have you read Pamela Slim’s Body of Work?  Share your thoughts with me!

Currently Reading…


Though I am busy reading Theories of Human Communication tonight in preparation for my first test of the Spring 2014 semester tomorrow, there are other books on my reading list later this week and into this weekend…


Today, I had a meeting with Dr. Jennifer Sandoval at UCF to discuss my research interests and my education.  Spending an hour with Dr. Sandoval was inspiring.  She is an amazing mentor!  After we discussed all things critical theory, she loaned me three of her books to do some at-home research in addition to the theory class I am taking this semester.

Additionally, I purchased Pamela Slim’s Body of Work which I’ve mentioned here, here, and here.  My colleague and superteacher BFF, Chiara Ojeda, also mentioned the work we’re doing together here.  Even though I have to teach for 8 hours tomorrow, and I have my own graduate class to attend for a few hours tomorrow evening after that, I have a feeling I’m not going to be getting any sleep tonight for studying and then devouring all of Slim’s BOW!

This week has been a whirlwind, and it’s only Tuesday.  I can’t wait to share 2 projects I’ve been working on with you… Hopefully soon.

What have you been reading this week?