Let’s Get Engaged

John CameraMy palms were sweaty; I had a million thoughts running through my head. Did I practice what I was going to say enough? Was what I had to say compelling enough? Was I confident? What if people laugh at me?

This was the scene the first time I stepped in front of the camera. Did you think I was taking about popping the question? Funny enough, the experience was very much like the day I asked my wife to marry me. Both events were about engagement and the principles of mastering these experiences are nearly identical.


  1. Create a vision. The best marriage proposals are well-planned. The same is true when creating video. Know what “good” looks like and prepare ahead of time using scripts and storyboards.
  2. Practice. One of my favorite quotes is “Success Loves Preparation”. The first time you say, “Will you marry me?” shouldn’t be at the actual event.  In order to make great training videos, the person in front of the camera must practice. Knowing the script will alleviate much of the initial stress. When the nerves kick in, remember to speak slowly and present the important content first.
  3. Make Eye Contact. This is a big moment. Have confidence. They say the eyes are the window to the soul. You want to make the connection in the moment. Keep your audience engaged by maintaining eye contact. Treat the camera (or teleprompter) as your audience. This may sound basic, but don’t forget to BLINK your eyes. As you begin to master camera engagement, add an occasional glance up or to the side, as if you’re taking a thoughtful moment to choose the right words to express yourself.
  4. Be Yourself. Engagement is a step two people take when they trust and respect each other. It usually comes after the first phase wears off and you truly understand and know the other person. And most of all there’s love. You might not get your audience to love you. But they should get to know the real you. Be yourself from the start.
  5. Just Do It. The famous Nike saying is the name of the game here.  Making videos should be fun and enjoyable. The only way you’re going to get engaged is if you take action. Step out of your comfort zone and get it done!

Originally posted at http://www.weskill.com/blog

Stop Boring Corporate Learning, Spice it Up with These 3 Ideas

SqueezingToday, most corporate organizations try to squeeze every penny out of the quarterly number to increase EBITA.  According to the Aberdeen Group “Best in Class,” companies spend north of $3,000 per employee on learning and development.  These “Best in Class” companies understand the correlation between developing employees and increasing revenue, and their leaders have a long-term focus.

While I applaud companies with this focus, I believe many of these training dollars are going to travel costs, legacy-training programs, and paper based materials.

Here’s what I suggest instead:

  1. Add Video Based Training– The explosion of Lynda.com highlights the popularity and demand for using video in Corporate Learning. Every single live, instructor-led training class should have a video based compliment. This will allow for those who prefer to learn online the ability to get a similar experience.  There are many ways to “slice the pie” when it comes to building video based content; pick the best tools that fit your culture.
  2. Create Shorter Content- The average employee can stay focused for 7 minutes.  Regardless of the training medium, content has to be made as short as possible Find creative ways to break up content in shorter segments, with one learning objective for asset.  This will provide the learner the ability to go back to the exact information they need at the appropriate time.
  3. Include Social Learning- Getting employees to engage with each other throughout the learning process is easily the most impactful thing a Learning and Development Department can do.  70% of all learning takes place in an informal way.  Helping facilitate this informal learning with coworkers can make all the difference in comprehension and execution.  Allowing high performers or well-respected team members to help build content is a great way to get this “social” loop started.

Executing these ideas by weaving them into the fabric of legacy training departments can be a difficult task.  Keep in mind; most things that are worthwhile are difficult.  If it were easy everyone would do it.

*First Posted at weskill.com

Inspire and Motivate with Video

The two areas that most organizations use video in the talent management life cycle is to educate and teach. While these are great things to do and we fully support them, there’s a couple other areas I think organizations can use video to get more out of their people:

1. Inspiration

There’s a unbelievable example from Dove about “real dad moments” that has received over 11 million hits on YouTube  the video says nothing about their products or services, they just inspire dads to be thankful for the gift that we’ve been given and it makes us want to be a better dads.  If I am an employee that works for Dove, there is no question I am more inspired to work for the company that employs me. Check out the video below and feel free to share it within your organization.

2. Motivation

There’s Tony Robbins and a plethora of other motivational speakers out there who speak at conferences or sign books for employees.   Of course these men and women can be a little corny at times but they are great at what they do and people need motivation.  Even the best athletes in the world need jolts of motivation when they don’t feel like practicing.  Employees need the same thing! Some days we need a bolt of energy and passion from someone other than our boss. (they might even have the opposite effect)

Get someone in your organization a curate motivational content from places like Youtube or Vimeo. Then share a daily, weekly or monthly motivational video across the organization.  I promise it will help move the needle for a short period of time.   Check out an example motivational video below you could share within your organization.

Keep the use of video in mind what you are looking to inspire and motivate your employees in the future.

The Power of Video by Oakley

OakleyIf you are anything like me, you lose a pair of sunglasses at least once every 6 months.  I recently shattered my losing streak by keeping the greatest pair of shades ever made for over 2 years. (Check out Costa’s Here). Like all great things, their time came to an end during a recent trip. This led me to quite a conundrum, spend $200 on a brand new pair of Costa’s, or wear the old pair of Oakleys I found in the closet? Here is your answer…

There are 4 key takeaways from Oakley’s video work here that any organization needs to tap into:

  1. Company History – What is the founders story? Why does the company exist in the first place? How has it evolved over time?  Every company in the world has a story. Communicate it!
  2. Align to Something Big – Jim Jannard had an obsessive drive that “everything can and will be made better.”  His mantra led him to create to disruptive technology in handlebars, ski goggles, and eye shades. If your current thinking is to build a slightly better mousetrap, it might be time to call a company meeting.
  3. Buyer Alignment – “Blends of science and art that disrupt traditional thinking.” Oakley’s primary buyer is the Millennial generation. These individuals love aesthetically appealing technologies and untraditional thinking. Communicating in a language and a medium (video) they prefer to wasn’t done on accident.
  4. Culture – “The Oakley design bunker is where the next big disruptive inventions will be born, teams of visionaries tasked with one simple goal: to design a new and better future.” Culture does amazing things for organizations.  When harnessed, it not only improves the work efficiency and effectiveness of employees, it attracts the best and brightest of future employees.  Now, all of a sudden, the company’s future looks bright for decades to come.

So needless to say, not only am I wearing my old Oakleys…I might be shopping for a new pair tomorrow.

The Myth of Visual Learning

The Myth of Visual Learning

Humans Are Visual Creatures.When it comes to learning there is no argument that video’s and infographics have paved the way people prefer to consume content. The interesting thing is I always thought I was in the camp of 65% of all humans who are visual learners. While I like video’s and infographics like everyone else, when I went to “apply” the techniques and skills they conveyed, I had a glaring problem. I didn’t have any experience in DOING.

 I will give you an example. I love wearing bow ties but can’t tie one. So naturally, I went to Youtube on my iPad and searched for “how to tie a bow tie.” After watching a “how to” video a few times, I assumed I would be able to tie the bow tie with no problem and turned off the iPad.

Boy was I wrong. Not only was I not able to tie it, I was probably more confused by the process than before I ever watched it. This required me to turn back on the iPad and watch the video again and again while tying the bow tie myself until was able to execute the task.

The moral of the story is that real learning didn’t take place until I blended the instruction from the video with actual application.

Customization Matters. A lot.


Customize is defined by Webster as: “to build, fit or alter according to individual specifications”.  In today’s world customization is not only wanted but expected.  Regardless if I am buying a car,  a burrito, or enterprise software, I want things to be about me. Keep the following three things in mind when selling products or services and the importance of highlighting customization:

  1. Perception–  Human beings use perception to help them understand or comprehend thoughts. If you go into the doctors office and before you open your mouth about what is bothering you, the doctor handed you a bottle of medicine. How good would you feel about your prescription?  Now imagine you telling the same doctor all about your symptoms and then she handed you a bottle of medicine.  Even if the medicine the doctor gave you is exactly the same, which prescription would you feel better about?  The answer is easy, the second. You perceive that she knew exactly what you needed instead of just handing you medicine, because she had a patient that looked exactly like you 5 minutes before.  Regardless of what your organization sells, keep in mind perception goes a long way.
  2. Positive Thinking–  When things feel like they are built just for you, the mental thought process is positive from the beginning. Check out the story of Custom Fly Rod Maker Tom Morgan from ESPN.com custom fly rods.  Its a wonderful story about Tom’s mindset of how his rods connect  his clients to the soul of nature.  The minute his clients put a custom rod in their hands  it just feels different. You can be assured they are going to tell people about that feeling.
  3. Adoption–    I just bought new golf clubs. Prior to making a purchasing decision, I went through a process to have the clubs customized to fit my needs.  I cannot tell you how much higher my desire is to use them.  The same concept can be applied to business. Enterprise software when customized will always be better received than an out of the box product that doesn’t reflect the way a company does business. When the time is put in on the front end for customization, the chances for an increase in adoption and  spend improves dramatically.

Good Luck and Good Selling!

The Facts Behind Educating, Developing and Retaining Top Talent

blackThere is a big black cloud quickly moving in on companies all over the world.  As most would expect, it has something to do with the device you have pulled out of your pocket 150 times already today. (You may even be using it to read this post).  Organizations may think that they can avoid the storm moving in their direction by going mobile with their technologies.  Unfortunately, that is not enough to keep this force of nature at bay.  This storm consists of millions of millennials moving into the workforce, and they are coming in big waves.

 “Over 75 percent of the global workforce will be millennials by 2025… Projections of the labor workforce 2050

These talented people are more comfortable with technology than any generation before them.  The smartphone has evolved with them through childhood; the tablet is a tool used not just for recreation but required for education; and social networking is the number one way that these millennials know how to communicate.

However, along with their highly sought-after technology skills, Millennials tend to be loyal to brands, not companies. The thought of staying with the same company for 35 years is as foreign to them as sourcing information from a printed encyclopedia or buying a CD at Best Buy. This way of thinking presents a new problem for organizations – high turnover.

“91% expect to stay in a job for less than three years…the average cost to replace each millennial employee is $24,000.” Job-hopping… Forbes

 Adding to this problem is the fact that high performing Generation X and Baby Boomers with years of experience have either already retired or are quickly moving in that direction.

The reality is organizations aren’t going to move the needle by putting stale Power Point presentations or instructor-led training materials in a Learning Management System, on SharePoint, or on the Wiki. It’s important to remember when thinking about the way content is presented and created:

  • The human brain can process 275 words per minute in written form, and it can only hear 150 words per minute
  • The average attention span of the Millennial generation is 90 seconds, so the first 7 seconds is critical

At the end of the day we are in a results-driven world where the people want to feel as though the content they consume is improving them professionally.  Think of our personal lives…we seek and consume information not just to educate ourselves, but also to entertain and enhance our minds.

In order to keep up, organizations must be innovative in the way they educate, develop, and retain talent.