Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

When Multi-Tasking Is Just Plain Rude

Multi-tasking can be very rude!

Bluetooth technology, headsets and speaker phones have made it possible to talk on the phone while reading, word processing, eating, walking, driving or just about anything else.  But, it very often sounds incredibly rude. 

Reading email and commenting on it while talking to someone else.

“Yes, I agree that we should probably reschedule that for next….WHAT THE HECK? Why are they sending me THIS? ……………………I’m sorry, I was looking at an email I got from Dave and his crew. They’re always copying me on things I don’t need. It’s nuts!………..Yeah, I think we should reschedule that.”

 Eating while talking on the phone.

 “We were trying to (chomp, chomp, chomp) get that done in time for the (indistinguishable), but I (chomp, slurp, slurp, chomp) don’t think we’ll have it. Is that a problem? (chomp, sip, crunch.)”

Browsing the Internet and not listening to the caller.

Traci: I’ve interviewed both of the employees but it seems they each have a different story. It’s so frustrating!
Joe: (silence)
Traci: Are you there?
Joe: Oh! Yes, yes I’m here. Hey, awhile ago you mentioned the problem you were having with opening that file….I just found a website about it.  It says you should probably close other programs before trying to download the file.

Working on email.

Roger: I just wanted to give you a heads up about the plans.
Maria: I’ll…….be……..sure…….to…………………………………..get…… (click) those done.
Roger: Am I catching you at a bad time?
Maria: No, no that’s fine. I was just sending an email to Bill and had to attach a file. Now, run that by me again.

Doing something that requires you to talk to someone else while on the phone.

“Hi Craig! How are you? I wanted to ask you if we could use the conference room to……just a minute…..A LARGE SLAMBURGER, DIET COLA AND SUPER SIZE THE FRIES PLEASE!……Sorry, I’m getting something to eat.  Anyway, I was….just minute……YES, DIET COLA. THANKS! ….anyway, I was wondering if we could use the….ohhhh, just one more minute, I’m sorry, I’m almost done with this……I DON’T NEED THE PENNIES BACK. THANK YOU!…OK, I’m done now (slurp) so, anyway, can we use the conference room?”

A communication and courtesy challenge: Challenge yourself–if it’s a challenge—to keep your hands off the keyboard, stop browsing the Internet, stop reading and sending email, stop eating, stop sounding preoccupied and only halfway paying attention, stop commenting on things apart from the phone call.  Focus on the conversation, both talking and listening. It’s Communication 101. It’s also Courtesy 101.

June 13th, 2009 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 9 comments

The Benefits of A Blank Screen

Let your audience rest their eyes and activate their brains. PowerPoint and similar presentation programs can be excellent ways to illustrate key points in training or even in short presentations, so this is not a plea to stop using them.  If each slide is prepared with care and intention, PowerPoint or similar presentation programs can add tremendously to the learning experience–it is mis-use and high quantity but poor quality that gives them bad reputations.  

Instead, I want to remind you to now and then use the B Key on the keyboard or the similarly magic button on the remote presenter. Those will give you a blank screen. 

On the keyboard you can get a blank screen without illumination by hitting “B” .  (You can get a white screen that is illuminated–and glaring–by hitting “W”. However, this is not as effective as the blank screen.)  On your remote presenter there is usually one button that takes the screen to blank–find it before you begin your presentation. To return to the slide,  click the same button or hit “B” again. 

You can also make a blank screen by simply inserting a new slide but not putting anything in it.  However, since it will probably have the same color scheme or template as the other slides, the class will assume you will be showing text or an image at some point and they’ll wait for it mentally. In addition, since it is a regular slide, the projector light will continue to glare and it won’t work well to stand in front of the screen or walk between the projector and the screen. Use the “B” key or the button on your remote presenter for much better results.

When to use a blank screen.

  • When you know you will be speaking about the material on a slide for several minutes and the visual reference isn’t needed, go to a blank screen.  (If you will be moving into a new topic, make a blank slide and click to it before going to the blank screen. That way when you click again you’ll open to the clear slide and can advance to the next one without having old material still showing. It’s not difficult!) 
  • If you don’t have slides to illustrate a topic or segment go to a blank screen.  Challenge yourself to find ways other than slides to illustrate or emphasize points.
  • Go to a blank screen as you discuss a new topic. Then, at the last of that segment use a slide. It’s a surprisingly effective way to regain attention as you summarize information.
  • When you have something that is so important you want the full attention of the group, go to the blank screen and move center stage as you interact more personally.
  • Go to a blank screen right before you announce break time, to indicate that  a topic is closed momentarily and everyone can relax mentally and physically.
  • If someone asks a question, go to a blank screen as a way to say, “I’m listening to you and I want everyone else to listen as well.”
  • When you want to show that you are comfortable as a speaker and presenter and don’t need slides to keep things going, go to a blank screen as you ask questions, respond to comments, tell an anecdote and in other ways fulfill your role as a trainer or speaker.

When you have a blank screen use it as an opportunity to stand in front of the screen for a change. Put the remote presenter down and see how nice it is to have your hands free. You’ll discover that audiences are more impressed with the blank screen now and then than they are with one slide after another.  The fact that I sometimes go to a blank screen is often mentioned positively in my critiques. (I refuse to think of that as a comment on the alternative!)

Blank screen moments. The next step is to purposely plan blank screen moments in your training.  Make a note in your lesson plan or workbook, to remind you to go  to a blank screen when you want to be sure to have no distractions as you ask a question, share an experience or segue from one training topic to another.  Don’t just look for those moments, create them.  Blank isn’t bad–in fact it can be very good!

June 6th, 2009 Posted by | Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 8 comments

Write One and Make Copies–A Great Idea!

For my work, the most crucial piece of office equipment, next to a computer, is a copying machine. Even though I am trying to conserve paper and energy–which is why I send most “handouts” as e-files after training–I want to use workbooks. I am very grateful for modern copiers that staple, punch holes and collate–and certainly remember when we did not have them.

The rights to Thomas Edison’s invention of  an “Autographic Printer” in 1876, were bought by A.B. Dick company and the new item was called a mimeograph–a generic name that is now used to describe many brands. Mimeographs are still very popular, especially in countries where electricity is not readily available. Many schools and churches in the United States use them for small copying jobs.

Have you ever cranked-out copies on a mimeograph machine? If so, have you ever copied on the wrong side of the paper because you didn’t put it on the roller correctly? Have you ever had the circles in the letters p, q, o and b, filled in with blobs of ink? Ahh, the memories!

In spite of the drawbacks, the mimeograph machine has at least a few advantages over larger copiers. Most mimeograph copiers do not require electricity. They do not have to have the toner cartridge replaced. Paper will not jam behind door 3a 1.b, requiring a technician to come out and get your mangled original from the jaws of the Copy Monster. And, they are fast–although I doubt the claim in the ad that you could make 1,000 copies in an hour.

I’m glad Mr. Edison found time in his incredible life to invent the Mimeograph machine!  I’m especially glad that others used Edison’s ideas to develop copying machines that are even more useful than those early inventions. I’m anxious to see what the future brings. And, I intend to still be producing workbooks!

November 2nd, 2008 Posted by | Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 2 comments

Training Room Set-Up and Technology: Important But Not Everything

 Jack Handey is the author of many Deep Thoughts that were popular on Saturday Night Live and in his books. They are absurd, introspective sounding statements that I find hilarious. One, from the book Deeper Thoughts, by Jack Handey: All New, All Crispy, (Hyperion, NYC, 1993) struck me as being apt for training situations I have encountered recently:

Instead of raising your hand to ask a question in class, how about individual push buttons on each desk? That way, when you want to ask a question, you just push the button and it lights up a corresponding number on a tote board at the front of the class. Then, all the professor has to do is check the lighted number against a master sheet of names and numbers to see who is asking the question.

Think about it a moment.

The desire to look innovative: I have noticed in the last decade or so, that training is often made more complicated than it needs to be, for the sake of appearing innovative.

  • Good technology is overdone or not done effectively.
  • Tables and chairs are dragged all over, even if participants cannot see or hear well, to make the set-up look less like a lecture room.  
  • Masking tape and flip chart pages are used for lists that mean little,
  • Discussions between the students (or student presentations) fill more time that they are worth.

Both the learner and the trainer are distracted because of the efforts. On the other hand, I am also aware that some people who conduct training only know one style: Lecture all day without anything to aid learning, and that is not effective either.

A trainer’s workshop: I attended a workshop for trainers not long ago, in which the participants were straining to find interesting training methods and classroom technology. Most admitted they spent a lot of their own money to enliven their training programs. Many said they often relied on video clips to keep participants interested, and were seeking lists of good videos to use–often without concern for the topic, except in a general sense. The ideas for games, activities, visuals, seating arrangements, tricks and tips that were produced seemed endless!

I was reminded of the training I attended a few years ago where participants were told to write their questions on potatoes and leave them at the front of the room during break. Then, the instructor would toss the potatoes to other students for them to answer.

Yes, that really happened. Since it was a class of raucous people, you can imagine the results! No one wrote serious questions, and, shall we say, the potatoes were not always used appropriately.

Back to the workshop…The trainers said that in spite of the many creative methods they used, it was almost impossible to get and keep the attention of the participants for a half day or full day class.  One trainer said, “They’re fine as long as we’re doing something fun or if they are moving around, talking and working on something at the same time. But, the minute I go back to explaining a vital process, I can tell they are restless and don’t want to sit still. Some of them spend most of their time text messaging while I’m teaching. ” (And these are adult learners who are being paid, I should note.)

Put the focus on learning: Many of my classes are multiple days or a full week, so I can certainly understand the challenges. However, I am convinced that trainers and training coordinators need to focus on learning, not solely on unique classroom experiences–unless those experiences absolutely increase learning. At the same time, managers and supervisors who arrange for training have to also focus on learning, rather than being overly impressed with the bells and whistles of a trainer who leaves many participants smiling, but without any new skills or knowledge or at least new thoughts.

Coming soon: In an upcoming article I am going to discuss some methods trainers (full-time, part-time and now and then) use to keep things moving along and keep students interested–and that genuinely aid learning.  Look for that in the next couple of weeks. If you have ideas or tips, please let me know about them. You know how to contact me!

What must the learners do or be? In the meantime, if you are setting up training or going to conduct training yourself, focus on what the participants in your classes absolutely must leave the classroom prepared to do or be. That is the value of those pesky learning objectives you have heard about. Make those your priority. Training participants may prefer to be entertained or kept busy, rather than thinking or applying learning. However, they are usually there to learn something that is needed for effectiveness at work. Trainers should stop apologizing for training!

If your classroom seating arrangement, PowerPoint, overhead transparency, flip chart, video, visual aid, activity, game or discussion is only designed to make you look like a new-age trainer, but does not better prepare the learner to achieve the objectives, think twice about using them. You will save yourself a lot of preparation time and force yourself to consider your balance between the essentials and the extraneous.

June 24th, 2008 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | one comment

Your Favorite Website As A Dynamic Graph. (You’re Going To Love Me For This!)

If your favorite website looked like an exotic space flower!

 This is so much fun! I found a wonderful site that will create a graphic image to depict almost any website. It is based on the quantity of links, tables and images, as well as the format of the text.  It makes me want to do a few things just to make a more visually interesting graph–whether or not it adds value the material!

All of the examples I will give you here open in new windows, so you do not have to worry about navigating back and forth. To see my site, click here. Blue Moose Photography doesn’t have as many violet dots as I expected, but it’s pretty! You can see it here. To see my friend Jeff Adam’s site, click here. Judith Free’s site looks like this. Pastor Bulldog’s site looks like this. Celeste Bumpus, who writes about nutrition, has this graph. One of my favorites is the City and County of Denver site. Check out New York City and the lovely yellow flower that rapidly unfurls, by clicking here. Finally, you can look at the Washington, DC website graph by clicking here.

What do the colors mean?
blue
: for links
red: for tables
green: for divisions within the site
violet: for images
yellow: for forms
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

In the future, you will notice many more links, tables, divisions, images, forms, and blockquotes on this site. Be prepared!

Do you want to see your favorite website or blog as a dynamic graph? Go to this great site and follow the instructions. Click here.  Don’t you love it?

Application in your life: Everyone you work with, everyone you know and everyone you meet, would look like one of those exotic flowers if you could see them in that way.  When you consider your own life, you know how complex it is, with all the links, images, linebreaks and data that make you what you are. The lives of others are the same. Just for the interest of it, think about your life and the lives of others as graphs much like these, and consider how amazing some of those might be.

Another application: Most of us could benefit by linking more, adding more images and developing our lives to be more colorful and interesting. For example, the yellow dots are for forms that allow input and questions from users. Maybe we should all try to get more input! And, did you notice how some of the graphs seem to keep growing and going as you watch? Like, for example, Amazon? Those are content-rich sites–a good goal for each of us!

June 3rd, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 3 comments

Organizing Outlook And Other E-Mail Programs — Do You Have A Method That Works?

Computers in my dreams. This photo by Aleksandra Banic of Croatia!Not long ago I bought several books on how to optimize Microsoft Outlook as a planning and organizing tool.  I bought them to give me ideas for a training segment on how to use technology more effectively–and thought I would surely be able to use some of the ideas myself. I have decided the Microsoft site is sufficient for the needs of most Outlook users, and other useful information can be found online. Unless you really, truly want a system, those resources will be enough. The one or possibly two or three ideas I got from any of the current crop of popular books, were not worth the money or time involved.

The material could be useful, I suppose, if one were attending a training session based solely on the system being touted by the various authors. However, without that in-depth study and classroom persuasion, I do not think the average person would adopt the system. Some required practically a new vocabulary! I would not have minded that so much, but some of the ideas seemed to be very complex for a very basic purpose. (A to-do list became a multi-colored, cross-indexed process that ultimately would be no more effective than my regular prioritized list.) More importantly, the authors apparently do not have the same experiences with email as I do, the same need to access it, or the same paranoid fear of not being able to document sent and received messages.

For example, one book suggests scheduling a time to read email–usually no more than two or three times a day–one author suggested trying only once a day. (If I am home, I think of email as like a business phone call and I respond quickly, and I expect that type of response from those I email for business.) One book suggests turning off the email icon and the sound that indicates mail has arrived. (I have the volume turned up on my monitor so the email sound could very well be confused with the Day of Judgment trumpet.) 

Almost all of the books were adamant that both incoming and sent messages must be immediately placed in folders or deleted permanently. (I have 870 messages in my delete folder right now, and will likely not permanently delete for another month or so.) That is not to say that my way is the most efficient and effective way–but it is my way and it works for my life and work. 

The helpful Microsoft Site: For the Microsoft site, click here. Browse through the various articles and you may find some helpful tips. One idea I found on the site several years ago, and still use, is to put a reminder flag on messages in my in-box that I want to be sure to follow-up about. You may have known about that feature, but I did not, now use it all the time and find it very beneficial. Another site that I found useful is a college site that has a monthly tech article. The one on Outlook is well-done. Check it out here.

I would be interested in knowing if some of you have learned or developed tips or techniques for most effectively using your specific email program, or if you have found a book or article particularly useful. You know how to contact me!

April 22nd, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 5 comments

Photos In PowerPoint Slides

This makes me appreciate technology!PowerPoint slides are the subject of many articles and posts on the internet. The purpose of this post isn’t to discuss the overuse of  PowerPoint, or the poor quality of many of the slides being created by trainers and presenters, or the fact that if you stand in the dark to show them you might as well go back to a 1960’s era slide show–I’ll write about that some other time–but to suggest a way to enliven the slides and make the text more memorable.

I use PowerPoint slides much as I did overhead transparencies: Text for key points, but with something visual to make the point stick in the minds of participants. One way to do that is to use a few photos in a presentation, much as one might use a photo to add interest to a post such as this one. The attention of audiences is gained immediately when a photo is on the slide, along with important text. (Does the Kodak Instamatic camera look familiar? Remember the flash cube on a stick?)

Of course, technical or professional topics can be illustrated with appropriate photos. And, using photos of people doing the tasks involved with a training topic is an obvious way to put interest in a slide.  Those who have been to my classes know that I use old photos of myself as a police officer as part of my introductory material.  When many in the class know me already I leave out the photos, and inevitably people will ask if I’m going to show them later, because they told others in the class about them.

In addition to these more obvious uses of photos, photos that illustrate a concept are also useful. Photos are particularly useful for illustrating text about personal and professional development, conflict and conflict resolution, setting and achieving goals, workgroups and teams, and then and now. This also allows you to avoid poor quality clipart. (Although I’m not opposed to all clipart–another post topic!)

I often have the photo appear while I briefly discuss a concept, then I have the key text appear. Sometimes I will ask what concept the photo represents, or if anyone has ever seen something like that and thought about the concept we’re going to discuss. When someone says, usually with heavy, but humorous sarcasm that they’ve seen the object, but never thought of that concept, I laugh with everyone else and tell them they will always think of it from now on. I’ll bet that’s true!

 Consider these photos and how they might be used in some of your presentations. Remember, the topics don’t have to be related to the subject of the photo, you only need to link it in some way.

  • Highways, roads, paths, lanes, bridges, street signs and lights, construction zones.
  • Vehicles: Old, new, wrecked, towed, expensive, with bumper stickers, with interesting or funny license plates.
  • Industrial areas: Doors, locks, trucks, security guard buildings, boxes, dumpsters, graffitti.
  • Airports: You can often get great photos of planes taking off, parking lot filled with vehicles, and people.
  • Nature: Flowers, weeds, weather, rocks, water, storms, aftermath of storms.
  • Animals: Domestic and wild, but not doing inappropriate things!
  • People: I’m thinking of having a few students pose for photos illustrating communication scenarios, so I can use them in other classes. If you are training within your own organization, old photos of former or current employees with the office equipment, cars, clothes and hairstyles of the era, can be fun. As a fun farewell after a week-long class, I have sometimes used a photo editor to put faces of students on clipart images. I don’t use those to illustrate important text. And, it was very time-consuming!
  • Almost anything in your home or office can illustrate a point: A book cover, phone, watch, glasses, scissors, pen, key, hot stovetop element, dying plant, broom, or food item.

Photos from stock sites are far too expensive for your purposes, and they look too commercial. The same thing applies to photos from photo and clipart subscription services. I’m not going to preach here about the use of photos from the internet, or photos from magazines or books. Those are usually copyrighted and you may or may not be able to use them legally–that’s up to you to find out and decide. I often look for very old books with old photos, or old magazines and catalogs, as a legal alternative. I have found old photos that were tremendously interesting and that cemented thoughts in the minds of participants.

One surefire method to avoid copyright problems is to take your own photos or use photos taken by others who have given you permission to use them. You don’t need a very fancy camera, tripod or any equipment other than a digital camera with a telephoto lens–although a nice camera and a basic tripod can make it easier to produce some excellent photographic material.  Spend a day or two taking photos now and then. When you download them, think about how all or part of a photo could be used in a presentation. Play around with the photos and topics until you find an interesting nexus.

Insert the photos using the insert/file feature in your powerpoint slide, size it to allow a text box, then type in the text. Do not use more than a few photos in a presentation, and do not attempt to make them all amusing–that will only irritate people.

If you use good judgment and effective photos you will enjoy making your slides, and most importantly, participants will enjoy looking at them. And, anything that captures the attention of participants in a positive way and makes the material memorable, is a good thing.

Here are some photos and scans I have used recently.  How could you use something similar? Challenge yourself to incorporate your own photos into PowerPoint Slides and see if you don’t find it fun and worthwhile for you and the participants.

70 Ford Pinto Teaser Ad.jpgKansas Car Wash Sign-Sarcasm Is Free Here Today-07.JPGJudaculla Rock Postcard-Ancient Rock Markings.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 20th, 2008 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 2 comments

Did You Use A Correcting Selectric?

ibm-correcting-selectric-iii-red.jpgI’ve decided that’s one way to group people–you’ve either used an IBM Correcting Selectric or you haven’t. If you have, you will recall that in the 1960s and 1970s, it was considered the most spectacular item ever introduced into an office. The Selectric II is the one most of us remember as being so phenomenal: The elements–the font balls that could be removed and replaced with different text size and ibm-selectric-fonts.jpgstyle–were easy to use and so much fun, I found reasons to bold and italicize words, and go from 10 pitch to 12 pitch. 

Courier, Helvetica, Script, Presidential and Orator, were among the font choices and I used all of them, whether it was necessary or not. Up until the Selectric II, the small letter l was used for the number one. The Selectric II had the number. Pretty exciting stuff!

 The big advantage of the Correcting Selectric II was the built-in correcting tape that allowed us to get away from the little pieces of white tape that littered most desks. (Although that was a big improvement over correcting liqud that made blobs on paper.) Do you recall searching around looking for a strip that wasn’t totally used up, so you could correct an error?

When the Selectric II was first introduced it had a ribbon that picked up the carbon from the paper, but the preferred correction method was the white tape that covered the error. AND, there was a half space key to allow re-typing a longer word over an error that had less letters. Just writing about that gives me chills of excitement!

 Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know: The original Selectric design that moved the type-ball across the paper in a brand-new way, was a modification of a toy typewriter from the 1950s for which IBM bought the design rights.

I’ve asked participants in the last dozen or so audiences or groups to hold up their hands if they have used an IBM Correcting Selectric. A few say they are still using Selectric III models in some office functions; several who used Selectric and Selectric II models hold up their hands with pride and look around to see who else was a Selectric graduate. The majority haven’t heard of the concept and have only used computers. That’s fine too. But if they get a new computer, it will look about the same as the old one, and work about the same as well. 

They’ll never know the joy of having a a brightly colored, futuristic looking Correcting Selectric, with a nifty cover, delivered to their desks. I can’t help but feel slightly sorry for them. (But, I wouldn’t want to replace my computer with a Selectric, would you?)

February 13th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 7 comments

Talking In Class, Taken To New Heights–Or Depths

chickenpiratetext1.jpg

This cartoon is on the www.savagechickens.com site, and is by Doug Savage–who can help you talk like a pirate.
Even pirate chickens are apparently addicted to text messaging!

Writing a message, reading mail, watching videos, perusing a newspaper, taking and sharing photos, getting news reports, shopping, sharing photos, sending cards: Perfectly OK activities during leisure time. Not appropriate during training, meetings or other business activities. However, those are the latest in rude behavior when people bring cell phones, PDAs, laptop computers and other technology into training sessions and to work.

I love technology and am thrilled to have access to computers and various communication devices. However, I am frustrated and disappointed at the uncivil and unmannerly actions of people who use them in a discourteous way. And, I’m disappointed at how often it is not confronted by instructors, supervisors or co-workers. Technology can be part of training, but when individual students bring their own technological devices to class it is almost never intended to enhance learning–and almost always detracts from it.

*Reading a magazine article on a PDA is no more acceptable than reading the actual magazine in class.
*Looking down at a phone and rapidly text messaging throughout a training session attracts the attention of everyone around the person and is almost as distracting as talking. Playing a game on the phone or a PDA is equally distracting.
*The fact that someone jumps to turn off a phone doesn’t make the noisy ringtone any less disruptive–especially since the ringtone is often musical and creates laughter that can destroy the tone of a discussion. Even vibrating phones can be disruptive when they rattle on a table or buzz from backpacks.  
*Answering a phone out loud, while jumping up and leaving the class or meeting to talk, is obviously disruptive. Answering a phone and talking, while sitting in class or a meeting is rude beyond belief.
*Watching a movie on a portable DVD player at every break takes away from the focus on training for the person doing it, and for those who even casually observe it.
*Taking photos of unsuspecting fellow students or the instructor, and sending them to others is an unsettling action and creates hostility.
*Recording comments made by students during class discussion, then playing them back later as a joke, shuts down participation.
*When an in-service training participant is typing on a laptop computer, in a class that doesn’t require that level of note-taking, the eyes of everyone around him or her focuses on the computer screen. And, the trainer only sees the shiny side of a laptop cover instead of the face of the trainee.

I have started announcing at the beginning of class, and putting it on the front of my workbook, that no electronics are to be out in class. Training coordinators are happy to have me take care of that for them, and most students are glad to have it under control as well. The participants who aren’t happy about it usually adjust. I count on their involvement in class activities–and the quality of my instruction–to get them over the shakes of not having something electronic to play with!

What are your thoughts about this issue? I’d like to hear them, and others would as well.  (When I receive comments about older posts, I ensure those are passed along in an updated article. Or, if you want to just write to me directly without it being shared, let me know that.)

February 11th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 2 comments

Casey’s Photos, And Yours

shannon-and-casey-at-christmas.jpgMy son-in-law, Casey McCorison is a great photographer, as you can tell by seeing the photos on this site. I wish you could see his photos enlarged, framed and displayed as he and Shannon have done for their home. You can see them decorating your own home by purchasing them on his website! You may also want to find a photo that reminds you of someone and have it made into a clever gift. Both the photos and gifts are offered through Shutterfly, with whom Casey has partnered.

I’ve given  many gifts that were perfect for the friend receiving them by finding an image that fits the friend’s traits, hobbies, pets, or a concept about our friendship, and using Casey’s website to order a mug, magnet, mousepad, calendar, notes, desk accessories–and sometimes even a plain photo!

I often suggest that the supervisors, managers and others in my classes take a camera to work and grab a few photos: Before or after staff meetings, in the coffee room, at lunch, at special events, and any other time a camera and flash won’t be disturbing or inappropriate.  If someone says he or she doesn’t want to be photographed, honor that request. Maybe you can set up another time when they’re better prepared. Or, consider telling everyone that you’re going to take photos the next day and promise you won’t take a photo if someone really doesn’t want to participate.  That way people can come to work better prepared about what they’re wearing and how they look. 

Many people feel they must protest about having their picture taken, so you may need to ask twice. After that, you should only ask again if it appears they’re hanging around hoping you will. Photographing someone who has asked you not to do it is not only rude, it could result in a complaint about your behavior. However, you’ll probably find most people will grimace at you but smile at the camera. The key is to take it when they’re ready, no matter how you feel about posed photos. You can’t blame people for hating candid shots where they are immortalized while talking, eating or sitting in a way that makes them cringe everytime they see it!  When you send people a file of their photo by email, thank them for being a good sport. That may make it easier next time!

Taking and distributing photos is a good way to develop a reputation for being helpful and fun–and it will lighten up the work environment as well. You can also use the photos for gifts, as part of training or in PowerPoint presentations (done in a professional way, not to make fun of people or to use the photos inappropriately), and in memory books for those who transfer or retire.

You may never have the skill with a camera Casey has, or his eye for color and composition, or the patience he has to sit and wait for the perfect photo. But you can have the willingness to share yourself and your time that he does. Take a camera to work tomorrow! And, send me a photo or two, to let me see your workplace and your work group. You know how to contact me!

January 27th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | no comments

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