Don’t shoot: Stop Bullet Point Overkill

Bullet Point OverKill 

Bullets points are not the answer. What value do they add to a presentation when the text is already in a 28 point font and is the only text on the screen?

If you must use bullet points, use them sparingly and use them well.  Here is one slide example (Click once to advance the slide).* 

PowerPoint presentations can shine without bullet points.

Think before you shoot.

*The animation is better in PowerPoint, NOT PowerPoint Viewer.

There is no “us” in Lectern

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In most training environments a lectern is an unnecessary barrier between you and the audience. Unless you are reading an extended portion of text or perceive your audience as hostile, as one might in the Whitehouse Press Briefing Room, think twice before you set up shop behind a lectern.

You may need it as a stand for your laptop, but there shouldn’t be a need to stand behind it for very long. Get a clicker with a built in mouse so you can run your presentation software from anywhere in the room. I’ve know instructors who take a lectern with them wherever they are teaching, as if to establish their authority with the class. In my experience this can limit a learner’s interaction with the content. The message of a lectern is a message of dissemination. You’re broadcasting; it’s not a two way conversation. It can come across as a “You are the masses and I am enlighten” approach.

Having interacted with experts in the field of teaching and leading, it’s clear that they would much rather teach one on one or is smaller settings. These leaders can be extremely effective in large settings, yet each of them understands the disadvantages created by emotional distance. This applies equally to the digital realm. 

Ever walk into a room and the first thing you feel is the tension? You couldn’t see it but there was no denying the obvious. You could literally feel the barrier. As an instructor, don’t think you are protected by the magic of the wires. If you have a lectern mind set your audience is at a disadvantage. Remember, there is no “us” in lectern.

Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick any two. . . Well Almost.

missionpossible.png (A)       70.png (B)

This is a fun idea; it can be good and fast, but it’s won’t be cheap, or it can be good and cheap but it won’t be fast. Fortunately, this not always true. There is no universal standard for good, fast, or cheap. Each of these words is relative to the specifics of the project, and being expensive and slow doesn’t guarantee it will be good.  

When developers adopt this mind set, and consistently apply it to all their projects, they become prisoners to the “or”. It has to be this OR this, because it cannot be this AND this. Who made up this rule and why do so many adopted it as truth? Yes, it can be used as a reality check on the constraints of a team, but it should not become the team’s motto. I’ve seen great results done quickly and on a low budget.  

Here are two examples of good, fast, and cheap ads created for an internal campaign directed towards a technical support team. The goal was to get everyone to record the exact version of the customer’s software on every call. They were getting the major number, but too many were not recording the minor and release numbers.  

We needed something in their face that would capture attention. The life cycle would be short and the problem needed to be corrected as soon as possible. What they didn’t need was to be lectured by their managers, pulled into a training room for an hour, or given a traditional job aid.  

This ad (A) [click the image to enlarge] was printed in color at 4” x 6” and taped on the shelf in everyone’s cubical next to their monitor. The image was a free download of the week from iStockphoto and the text and formatting took ten minutes. I used SnagIt but could have easily created it with Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. This ad (B) was used in a follow up e-mail a week later. 

The number of techincans recording the version number increased dramically. By the following week we were reached 100%.

Sometimes things can be good, fast, and cheap. Especially when the life cycle is short. Here’s one more example (C).

istock_000001275827medium702.jpg  (C)