Yes, stories really do work!

Old BookLast Friday, I went to a local ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) meeting.  The speaker, Kordell Norton, told us that a great way to begin presentations is with a story.  Kordell gave us lots of pointers including:

  • The first 30 seconds sets the tone for the presentation.
  • Find your stories in every day life.
  • Just begin the story – no introductions to it, no telling them it is a story.
  • Take each segment of the story and add humor to it.
  • While telling your story, add pauses and vary the pitch.

Kordell told the story well and set a very positive tone to the training.  So, I decided to try a story this morning for a program.  Before the program, I was introducing our new “Text a Librarian” service.  Therefore, I picked a story about getting a text from my niece and how I used the wrong text acronym.  I actually got laughs!

Do you use stories in your training?  How do you use them?


Ohio Educational Technology Conference 2010 – Streamed in Second Life!

The Ohio Educational Technology Conference is being held next week, February 1-3, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio.   Anyone from around the world is invited to attend the conference in the virtual world Second Life.

More information, including the conference schedule, is available on the following webpage:

Getting to Know Me

The group at T is for Training posted a challenge for the show participants to answer 27 questions about themselves.  Here are my answers in hopes to give a small glimpse into who I am:

1) Your One Sentence Bio

A passionate training manager who loves teaching by day and virtual world entrepreneur and gourmet baker by night.

2) Do you blog? If yes, how did you come up with your blog name?

Yes!  I am not too creative; however, I wanted to express that good training has a passionate trainer behind it.  (

3) What is your professional background?

A degreed educator who worked in telecommunications for many years before deciding that teaching is what I loved from the beginning.

4) What training do you do? staff? patrons? types of classes?

I’m responsible for patron and staff training which includes technology from Introduction classes to the Microsoft products to more advanced subjects such as Photoshop and any other training needed for staff including database and soft skills training.

5) What training do you think is most important to libraries right now

From my own personal experience with the budget issues of libraries, I believe that cross-training endeavors are important to keep service to patrons at the higher levels.

6) Where do you get your training?

I have many sources of training available to me including ASTD, our regional and state library systems, an enormous amount of web resources, and other businesses and educational institutions.

7) How do you keep up?

It helps to have a department of three that collaborates on what’s new from each of their sources including webinars, RSS feeds, news, etc.  Our wonderful regional library system does a webinar every month on NEO Tech News, also.

8) What do you think are the biggest challenges libraries are facing right now?

In the State of Ohio, the number one challenge is budgets since the state funding was cut drastically last year.

9) What are biggest challenges for trainers?

For public, keeping up with demand, and for staff, getting employees in front of the training.

10) What exciting things are you doing training wise?

For public training, we are integrating Office 2007 classes, looking at adding a video editing class, and potentially adding webinar classes; for staff, implementing a large cross training endeavor and changing over to Office 2007 sometime this year.

11) What do you wish were you doing?

Preparing to go to Computers in Libraries (all out of state travel was eliminated this year).

12) What would you do with a badger?

Nothing… hope it moves on.

13) What’s your favorite food?

Southern fried chicken… yum; however, since I started eating right, I rarely indulge.

14) If you were stranded on an island, what one thing would you want to have with you?

A computer with access to the Internet which would keep me entertained, learning and in touch with the world.

15)  Do you know what happens when a grasshopper kicks all the seeds out of a pickle?

He keels over from exhaustion?

16) Post it notes or the back of your hand?

Post it notes

17) Windows or Mac?


18) Talk about one training moment you’d like to forget?

It involved a patron, so I do not think I should write about it.  But, it does give us a laughable tale now.

19) What’s your take on handshakes?

They are still common courtesy when meeting someone.

20) Global warming: yes or no


21) How did you get into this line of work?

I got caught up in the 3rd or 4th layoff at the telecommunications company, and decided that it was time to go back to what I love to do – teach.  The library had an opening for a trainer, and I’ve been here ever since.

22) What is the best part of your job?

The “ah-ha” moments and the appreciation behind them.

23) Why should someone else follow in your shoes?

Because teaching is a very personally rewarding job.

24) Sushi or hamburger?


25) LSW or ALA?


26) What one person in the world do you want to have lunch with and why?

I know it is not work related, but right now the person that comes to mind is Martha Stewart.  I would love to chat about how she built her company and about cooking and baking.

27) What cell phone do you have and why?

I have an old flip phone because I have not found the courage to spend the money on a Droid yet.

Responses from some of the rest of the group:

Nicole Engard – The T is for Training Challenge

Polly-Alida Farrington – The T is for Training Challenge

Bobbi Newman – T is for Training Meme

Alison Miller – A T is for Training Challenge

Maurice Coleman’s Getting to Know All About Me Post

Betha Getsche – I Like Sushi & Libraries

Laura Botts – “C is for Challenge” at “T is for Training”

Heather Braum – T is for Training Challenge Meme

Jill Hurst-Wahl – Me. Coffee. Morning.

Pete Bromberg’s 23 things (minus 3): A getting to know ya post

Stephanie Zimmerman – A Get to Know Me Meme from TIFT

Marianne Lenox – 27 Questions (Supplemental Pictorial Essay)

Paul Signorelli – Paul’s Getting to Know Me Post

Lauren Pressley – 23 Questions with Lauren Pressley

Buffy Hamilton – 27 Questions with Buffy Hamilton

Jay Turner – 20 Questions for Just that Guy

Julie Strange – T is for Training Questionapalooza v 1.1

Beth Tribe – T is for Training Meme

Organizational Change in the Classroom

As we go through our daily lives, many things change.  Changes such as our address, employer, salary, car, favorite songs, best friends, pets, and what we do in our free time change constantly.  Think about where you were with each of those topics 10 years ago and where you are today.  We tend to take these changes as a part of life and move on.  So, why is it so difficult to accept change when it comes to our daily lives at work?  Why do we get all bent out of shape when someone wants to move our desk a few feet away? It seems that whenever we vary from the familiarity of our work environment our stress level increases.

As trainers we have several ways that we can help with change in our organizations:

1.  Provide training.  When staff member receives new duties, do not assume they know how to accomplish them.  Give staff time to learn and practice their new tasks.

2. Admit that change can be stressful.  Ignoring the fact that staff is stressed out over the change can make stress increase.  Do not ponder on it.  However, if you admit it and make yourself available, staff may relax a bit.

3. Keep training positive.  Positive energy flowing through the classroom will help ward off the negative thoughts that often come with change.

4. Stress the good things that will come out of this change.  What are the benefits to the employee(s)?  Everyone wants to know what is in it for them.  Although we can cite the benefits for the organization easily in most cases, it has been proven that the more that changes benefit the organization the more the stress level increases.  If employees see the benefits to them personally, that stress level decreases.  If you can get staff to figure out the positives, it will even be more powerful in reducing stress.

What are your ideas?

Training can be fun!

Koosh BallAfter over 20 years teaching in the high school, collegiate, business and non-profit sectors, sometimes a visitation to the roots of teaching is an eye-opening experience. Recently, my staff and I went to a seminar on putting the fun back into training.  Fun in training?  Yes, fun!

We took a trip through the ages of children from infants to about 6th grade.  As infants our parents made learning fun by playing with our toes as they counted.  As toddlers, we had all kinds of learning games to make learning fun.  As kindergartners, we had fun through stories.  However, as we got to be in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, learning became serious business with classwork, homework and tests.    We tend to let go of the fact that learning can be fun.  Even as adults, we have a bit of a kid in all of us that craves fun.

What can we do to add some fun back into training?

  1. Play uplifting music.  No one wants to walk into a quiet room.  Keep the atmosphere energized.
  2. Greet students as they come in the door.  Make students feel like they are welcome.  This is a great opportunity to also get to know them a little.  Sometimes the information you learn can be tied into classroom examples, too.
  3. Let the students do the work.  Let them write on the boards, brainstorm together, come up with ideas/solutions, etc.
  4. Have toys available.  Keep the busy-bodies busy.  Give them things to keep their hands active and their minds on the topic.
  5. Keep note taking to a minimum.  Some of us just love to take notes.  Try to minimize or eliminate it by promising to give a handout with all the information at the end of the session.  Keeping everyone engaged during class tends enhance learning and comprehension.
  6. Use a bright, colorful room.  Have you ever taken a class in a gray, drab room and had the energy taken right out of you?  A bright, colorful room does make a big difference.
  7. Wear bright colors.  Wearing bright colors energizes your students just like the brightness of the room.
  8. Feed them.  Food or candy is always a great energizer.  It really helps with the tired time in the afternoon.
  9. Get a summary of the class from the students.  Let each student have a say in what they are taking away from the experience.  It’s a reinforcement of what they learned today

Of course, not all of the options will work in all training situation.   Trying one or two new things could help us regenerate our training classes.

There are so many ideas of how to add the fun back into training.  What are your ideas?