Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What trainers can learn from the art of Public Performance

While a lot of training is science and has to do with how people learn, research in instructional theory and neuro linguistic programming, the one thing that none of this science can hold good without, is presentation and performance. Now some of my more informed readers will scoff and say "Performance!??" and I will go back and say a little louder, "Yes! P E R F O R M A N C E!". There's a very good reason I say this. Think of some of the most enjoyable sessions you've attended -- did the trainer display humour? Possibly yes! Think of the most engrossing sessions you've attended? Did the trainer display great speaking skills? Possibly yes! Think of the sessions from which you remember the learning most clearly? Did the trainer create a compelling experience? Possibly yes!

If your answer to any of the above questions was "Yes." then you'll perhaps agree about the element of performance in training. If your answer is "No" to all three questions, then I'm sorry I think you're just being difficult! Well anyways, having coached trainers for years now, I realise that as a tribe we can take great inspiration from the cult of street performers and tour guides. Why is this important? Its important because we as trainers owe it to our audience to give them the most engaging, interesting and entertaining learning experience possible. Its also important because we owe it to ourselves to be engaging speakers and to not be "insufferable bores".

Anyways, I've recently been in London as you all may know and I'm intrigued by how many lessons we trainers can learn from London's street performers and from the Yeoman Warders at Tower Bridge.



I have two very typical examples for you to examine as evidence of what I'm saying here. The video above is that of a street performer on South Bank. Its a two part video and it shows what London street theatre is all about.

My second example below, is a five part video of a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London, giving tourists a guided tour of the fortress.



Please do look through these videos and you'll get my drift sooner or later. There are a few key things for trainers to keep in mind to keep their performance at the very highest level. Here are a few things I tend to do and have learnt to do, from examples such as the ones I've shared with you.

Start with a bang

If there's anything that sets the tone for how your session is going to be, its how you start it. This is where you grab people's attention by making them feel, "Yaay! This is going to be a hell of a session!". Please please don't speak so softly that you can't hear yourself. If you don't want to be creative about your beginning, then the least you should do, is begin with a loud voice. Gain everyone's attention with a LOUD "Hello everyone!", at the very minimum. If you are nervous, get the monkey off your back and ask a question, or ask for a show of hands. That gets the audience involved early. I do not recommend using contraceptive devices as props in a classroom, but see how the performer begins his show in the first video. Creativity is perhaps your best friend here!

Modulate your voice

A consistently loud voice and a consistently soft voice are both not recommended. Remember modulation and volume are two very different things. A great performer should be able to make a whisper audible at the end of a large room. In fact I remember that in acting classes I took at school, this is exactly what we used to be taught. I remember I took a few singing lessons before I started to croak and we were asked to sing "Do Re Mi" at various volumes and speeds. I haven't been able to pinpoint a technique that has worked for me, so I'll ask you to pick a technique that works for you. But remember that the change in your message is best illustrated by your expression and the change in the tone of your voice. Watch the Yeoman Warder videos for examples of how he does this.

Interact with your audience and steal their attention

If you notice the Yeoman Warder videos, you will notice that none of his segments are more than 10 minutes long. Even the slightly long ones have various pauses and interjections where he allows time for the audience to laugh, gasp and ooh. Most adult brains cannot process information for any longer than 6 minutes without any stimulation. That stimulation could be your interaction with the audience. Often you ask a closed ended question and you don't get a response. Watch out for how the street performer goads his audience to encourage him. In a situation where I'm not getting a response, I sometimes stop and ask the class, "Yes, No, Maybe?". If they're still unresponsive, I have a few ways to make them respond even then. The key is to find your own ways. Find a way to steal attention if you aren't getting attention. Having a super loud "Alarm Voice" is not a bad idea as well.

Humour is your best friend

Make a conscious attempt to use humour in your sessions. Find out spots in your session plan where humour is relevant and appropriate. Bring in your life experiences to make training colourful and enjoyable. Be self-deprecating if necessary. Check how the Yeoman Warder talks about himself being a resident of the castle in video 2 and you'll see what I mean. If you notice, he's subtly made the point that Yeoman Warders reside in the Tower of London with their families and are not medieval creatures but technology savvy denizens of the digital world (the Facebook reference). Watch how he answers yet deflects the question about why Anne Boleyn was beheaded with a sword in video 5. He keeps his answer short, yet uses humor to ensure that the audience member is not offended. This is a dextrous skill and hey, it takes practice. The Yeoman Warders have been doing these tours for years -- each day of their life! So obviously, they've had some practice. How about you do yours?

Stick to ONE theme

I can't help coming back to the Yeoman Warders. They are just so A W E S O M E! While he gives you nuggets of history about the castle, the crown jewels and the weaponry displayed in the White Tower; his main theme is prisoners, executions and torture. He sticks to that theme throughout. Guess why? Because the audience wants it. How is what you are teaching addressing what your audience wants? Have you tugged at that cord? Is it useful to keep tugging at that cord throughout the session? Food for thought, I would think.

Tell a story, don't convey facts

Yes, we're expected to give students a lot of information. But is the information an end, or a means to an end? I'm sure you'll agree its the latter. How do you deliver information in a way that's relevant to what you expect students to do in the end? Watch how the Yeoman Warder doesn't just point out buildings and give you history. He's setting context and he's telling a story. You want to know all of the details because in your head you're playing a bit of a movie about how people get locked in the tower and eventually executed. The pieces of information you get, about the position of archers, the methods of escape, the origins of the soldiers guarding the Queen's house are incidental. They are part of the story. What's your story?

Show some passion


I must be serious about this and though this may seem cliche, "I wouldn't be doing my job, if I wasn't passionate about it!". In fact, I don't see what else I would have done in life. I wouldn't trade my job for anything else. I do this because I'm devoted to it. I strongly believe that if you're passionate about something, it shows. I'm passionate about training. Maybe you're a Subject Matter Expert and you're passionate about your subject matter. The key is that if you're training a group of people, you need to either be passionate about creating learning or about the subject matter you're responsible to deliver. If you're passionate about neither, then I'm sorry you should avoid training that session. Really, I'm serious about this. Forget about the two videos above. Look at TED Talks. Pick a talk you liked and you'll realise that part of what got you hooked was the fact that the speaker was passionate about the topic. In fact I cannot, and I repeat - I cannot remember a talk/ presentation/ training session I've enjoyed where the trainer didn't display any passion. I have no great love for Steve Ballmer, but if you haven't seen the video above I seriously recommend you do. Love him or hate him, a man can't work up a sweat like that when talking, if he's not passionate. I have to give it to him and so did the audience.

Now obviously if you're doing this for the first time, then all this will not be easy. I recommend though that you seek feedback from a seasoned practitioner and work on their suggestions painstakingly. I am a great believer in setting high goals and high standards. Set yourself the highest standard possible and back yourself to achieve it. To repeat an oft repeated line, "Practice makes perfect."

To add to all this of courese, presentation skills matter and if you found my thoughts above useful, you may find my other posts on training and presentation skills useful too. Read through them if you like and I hope you enjoy watching the videos I've posted!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ways of Effectively Leveraging your SME when developing e-learning

I write this blog because I'm a little upset about the fact that we used our SME as a glorified proofreader in a recent module, than someone who could actually provide shape to the learning and its activities. I've been thinking all night about what we could have done and should do in future to use our SME(s) more effectively. Here are a few thoughts and I write it from the perspective of what a client would like a professional e-learning consultant to do:

Do your homework

An SME is likely to be quite passionate about their topic. If you've had some material from them about the topic you're designing for, go through it and try to do as much research as you can, before you first meet them. In fact a lot of this starts even before you get any training material from your SME's. Understanding your customer starts from the moment you know that you're going to work with them. It means understanding who they are, what they do and how they do it. Its very poor form to walk in on day and ask the client "What do you do?" or "How are you different?". Instead say, "So here's what I've been able to gather about the work you do and your business model. I have a few questions...". A client and their SME are likely to feel more comfortable with a consultant that knows him and shows interest in his business than someone that's just taking notes.

Start with the big picture

Its always important as a consultant to start with the big picture of the problem you're trying to solve. Do you know about it? Confirm your understanding with the SME. If you don't know about it, ask. In situations where you've had separate meetings with different people, when you eventually do get them into the same room, share some history. Make sure everyone is on the same page. When you quantify the problem in your head, you build a greater emotional connection to it and as a result you work with greater zeal. Talk about how you expect the development process to work, agree on the SME's involvement and the frequency at which you'll need her. Surprises are nice when its Christmas -- not at work!

Demonstrate your understanding

You've been through the material the client sent you -- you surely understood something given that you did your homework (see above)! Let the SME know what you understand. Make things big and visible and ask your SME to point out gaps in your understanding. Once she's done, rephrase and share your understanding with her. Again, your understanding of the topic is essential for you to develop the training. This isn't a dispassionate piece of professional work -- the more you're emotionally involved, the more you'll be able to empathise with your eventual audience.

Draw, don't type

In the age of laptops its a great temptation to flip out the notebook and start making notes straight into the template you were asked to fill. The newsflash is that only you can see what you're typing! Who knows whether you interpreted the information right? Get as much as you can, onto a big whiteboard or flipchart. Even for the previous two steps, use a whiteboard. Make sure your SME has a marker so she can make changes/ additions. The documentation is secondary to you getting your answers and understanding them. When you make something big and visible, you not only build shared understanding, you give your SME the confidence that you're on the right track. Carry a camera, take a picture and immortalise your thoughts! Think of yourself as the consultant, not the notetaker.

If you feel you're bad at drawing and that's why you don't use the whiteboard, I strongly recommend Dan Roam's amazing book, "The Back of the Napkin". He describes some very simple tools and techniques that anyone can pick up to represent concepts visually. Click here to download tools from the book.

Action Map, don't Scope

I am a devotee of Cathy Moore's Action Mapping approach and I've used it on at least 2 separate projects with great success. You will often get from your SME, a document or a presentation with a description of the subject matter. The easy way and the traditional way out is to think of converting the presentation into e-learning. What you're doing in effect is not creating learning but an interactive Powerpoint deck. With some effort, your SME (if she's smart enough) could do that herself. Slideshare's a great place to share self playing presentations for free. How are you adding value?

Think about the business problem you agreed earlier. What should happen instead? What's the business goal? Quantify it with your SME and stakeholder and then agree on the actions that your learners need to perform, in order to reach that goal. With those actions in mind, think through the learning activities that will model their real life work environment. Agree these with your SME. And finally ask your SME for the absolutely, absolutely important information that your learners will need to perform these activities. The rest of the information can go into a job aid which you can create using Lean, Standard Work principles. By doing this, you're using your SME to reduce flab from your course and you're involving your SME to decide how this course will be followed up.

Storyboard, don't script

It may seem like an unnecessary overhead, but if that were the case we wouldn't have any movies anymore. Storyboarding is a technique that's been used in creative spheres for ages. You name a popular creative brand and they do storyboarding. Garrey Reynolds writes profusely about the virtue of Storyboarding and Planning Analog. As Steve Jobs says, your computer is a "bicycle for your mind." Planning on a computer clouds your mind with too many other issues. You'd rather use the computer to just build. Storyboarding with index cards is a lightweight method of deciding on the visuals and information architecture of your course. Its a great way to plan out branching scenarios. Its also a great place to involve your SME and gain agreement on what the course is going to look like, behave and the information its going to convey. A set of high quality pictures, pasted into a word processor, will ensure that your course builders know exactly what you need. Of course you may need to give your course builders some direction about the text you need on screen. I think that's perfectly all right to add later. The fact that you've involved your SME at the stage of storyboarding will mean that you have greater buy in, into what you're trying to achieve.

Seek frequent feedback

Build a personal relationship with your SME. Walk up to her and ask questions -- don't send a 20 page script with 15 questions to type in answers for. Catch them on IM and get clarifications. Do phone calls. Of course, all of this needs some sort of agreement with your SME on the way you want to work, but of course you can decide this early enough. Try as far as possible not to create an "US vs THEM" situation. Talking to SME's frequently makes them understand that you're part of their team.

Agree, don't state

If you've noticed, one of the words I've used most frequently is "agree". This is key to the approach I'm suggesting here. You may be a learning expert, but she's a Subject Matter Expert and she has some very clear thoughts about how she represents her subject. So its important that you agree the style of representing learning and the approach to the training module. Make sure your SME is comfortable. I can't deny there'll be some tough conversations and some convincing to be done. I'll be surprised if you don't encounter resistance to any of the change you're trying to create. I'd expect that your consulting skills come into play for this -- I strongly recommend you read Linda Rising's "Fearless Change" and "Getting to Yes" and "Beyond Reason - Using Emotions as you Negotiate" by Roger Fischer. I particularly recommend Linda's book because it deals with Influencing and different patterns you can use to facilitate change in an organization and in someone's thinking.

Work with, not away from your SME's

There's obvious benefit in colocation. You can walk up to your SME's, you can observe them at work, you understand the culture of the company you're serving and everyone has clear visibility in the work you're doing because in many ways you're playing a de-facto employee at your clients. Of course there are times when you can't work colocated because the client is in a different part of the world and there's a cap on travel costs. In such a case, think of how you can build in some ritual communication into your process. Think of whether your SME can do narration for your course if you need it. There's always the virtue of getting professional narration, but there's also the virtue of hearing a familiar voice that says, "Hi I'm Richard Stallman and I'm going to take you through this course on Free Software." And please, please, please use the SME's language as far as possible. If you're changing their language have a good reason to do so; don't dumb down the content because YOU don't understand it!

Don't create silos

Given the volume of work that elearning consultancies have (and I've evaluated more than a couple of dozen in the last few months), its natural that the builders work separately from the instructional designer that work separately from the graphic artists. I'm a great believer in the concept of shared purpose and vision and the virtues of working in teams as against being individual contributors. Get your builders and graphic artists to know the client. The builder should really understand the topic almost as well as the designer (similar to a business analyst). The sooner you can create a sense of shared purpose and customer commitment in the team, the better. Now this can mean a change in the way most elearning firms operate, but I can imagine that by keeping teams small and encouraging generalizing specialists it is possible to work out a model that fits this kind of an approach.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Corporate Drone

I receive loads of emails from different HR vendors each day and many of these emails are just corporate drone. I've decided to stop looking at emails that don't write simple English. If they can't explain something in simple language, then I guess they can't help ThoughtWorks.

Example email:

Hi Sumeet,
This is ___. I represent ___ which specializes in talent mapping & transformation.

In this regard we would like to discuss with you about your areas of interest and strategic growth prospects. Do let me know your contact coordinates for further interactions.

Looking forward for a mutually beneficial & long-lasting relationship.


talent mapping & transformation?
strategic growth prospects?
contact coordinates for further interactions?


It'd be so much nicer if this email was written in simpler language.

Hi Sumeet,
I represent ____ and we [simple description of what you do].

If you don't mind, I'd like to set up a call for us to talk about our services and how we could be useful to ThoughtWorks. Can I have your contact details?

Look forward to hearing from you!


Anyways, I guess I need to rethink my writing style too! Well, my favorite resource for plain, business English, is http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/.

Later Addition

President Patil's letter to Manmohan Singh (inviting him to form the government) has a sentence that reads:
Having regard to the fact that you head the single largest party and the largest pre-election alliance and taking note of the letters of support enabling you to command majority support of the newly constituted 15th Lok Sabha, I have the pleasure to appoint you the prime minister and request you to advice me as to the names of others to be appointed in the council of ministers.

Just kill me! Please!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tips to lead Socratic Discussion

As trainers we often use Socratic direction to prove a point, using audience participation. The method of Socratic discussion is actually quite simple and bases itself on the prior knowledge of the learners. The trainer will usually ask a series of pointed questions to finally get to an "Aha!" moment. The mnemonic I use to describe the process of Socratic direction is KOPSA. Here's what it stands for:
As you'll notice, its a pretty simple process. With that said, this is a simple process that one can often get wrong. Here are a few things I like to be careful about:

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Socratic discussion starts from Knowing your audiences responses. Prepare, prepare, prepare! Think of all possible answers that your learners can come up with. The more branches you can identify for your discussion, the better prepared you will be.

Accept Input

Often you'll hear responses which are not exactly the one's you're looking for. Our tendency could be to just say "No!" to these responses. Instead, I like to use open ended, generative statements such as "What do you think...", "Hmmm... that's an interesting thought. With that said..." or, "That's a good thought, let's come back to that in sometime. How would you...". I like to use what I call the "Reflect/ Deflect Technique".
REFLECT back to the questioner what you thought was the point she was making. ("If I understand correctly, you’re asking..."). Depending on how the questioner "reformulates" their point, DEFLECT it by either:
  • Asking the group : ‘How does the rest of the group feel?’;‘Who else has faced a similar problem?’
  • OR ricochet to a particular participant: "Adam, given your experience how do you feel about this?"
  • OR Reverse it to the person making the point: "You've definitely got a great point there. Tell us more about it"

Know your Outcomes

Its very easy to get pulled into tangential discussions with the socratic method. Its important to keep sight of the point you're trying to make and push forward towards it. I usually like to maintain a Parking Lot flipchart in the classroom which I let students maintain for themselves. Each time a topic goes way too off topic, I like to place the issue on the Parking Lot by simply placing a post it on the flipchart. This generally means that we can have a special interest discussion about the topic outside of class hours.

Have Patience

You will need to have patience with this method -- often many sessions may end up in you having to go around in circles trying to get to the next point. Too much haste, and you may create a perception that you're not listening to your audience's viewpoint. This is one of the problems with Socratic discussion. Open ended questions mean open ended discussion and we know how open ended discussion can end up!

Be Flexible

Be flexible (while of course, keeping time). Socratic discussion is really about putting part of the control in the hands of the learner. You might just run into an interesting discussion which is of great value to the topic, but slightly off your plan. Prioritize the topics in your session to decide if you are ready to have this discussion over completing other activities in the time-slot. One of things I do when preparing from a session plan, is that I prioritize topics as "Must Have"/"Should Have"/"Could Have" sections. This lets me understand the highest priority sections and what I can get away with not doing, if I have pacing issues. The key however is that if you can't make time for this side discussion, then make sure you respectfully place these topics on the parking lot (or let the students do it).

Don't patronize them

Last but not the least, don't go overboard with Socratic discussion. If something is simple enough, just say it! Consider the intelligence and prior experience of your audience. You don't want to patronize them too much by going around in circles trying to make an awfully simple point!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Updates from the last week or so a.k.a Things to see around London

So, first things first! Tequila's doing much better now. She's started to walk around, albeit with a bit of a stutter. She's playing with Sparky and seems well on the road to recovery. A big "Thank You!" to everyone that said a prayer for her. I received a few emails, IM messages, etc after my post and I must say I'm deeply touched at everyones concern. The least I can do to show gratitude is email everyone back individually and I intend to do that this afternoon.

So what's been going on in London? Well, its work - I'm currently traveling to Brighton as I write this post. We're doing a bit of an experimental program with Kineo, a specialist elearning consultancy, to build out a learning portal for ThoughtWorks' delivery capabilities. Lets see how that goes and I'll perhaps write about that more as time passes by. I haven't written one of my training/ presentation/ elearning posts in recent days and I promise to write one about Socratic discussions in classroom settings as my next post. If that's a topic that interests you, please keep your eyes peeled!


What else has been going on in London? A bit of sightseeing, I must say! I've tried to make productive use of the weekends I have had thus far and here are the places I've visited up until now:
Of course, I shouldn't forget the kindness of Mark Harrison from Kineo for having treated me to Fish and chips on the most beautiful Brighton pier and while his suggestion of eating mushy peas was one I shouldn't have taken, I must thank him for the great experience and his amazing narrative of Brighton's history.

So, I don't need to write much about each of the places I visited. Wikitravel should be able to give you loads more information than I possibly digested during my trips. I can however tell you that each of these are really short day trips from London and you can get to most of these places by train from the city stations. You can also choose to go as part of organized tours and two of the more reputed tour companies here are Evan Evans and Golden Tours. The services from both companies are comparable, though Golden Tours may just turn out to be more value for money. If you do go on one of their tours, here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Tours start REALLY early -- so find a cafe near you that serves breakfast at about 0630, because your pick up could well be at 0715.
  • Avoid the trips that have lunch included. While the food can be expected to be good, the choice is limited. So use the time they set aside for lunch to do your own sightseeing or just find better variety for lunch.
  • Lastly, these are coach tours and while the coaches are very comfortable and the roads excellent, consider this carefully especially if you're prone to travel sickness.

If you don't want to do the coach tours from these companies, I suggest you plan your trip intelligently and buy yourself a London Pass. The London pass is great value for money and gets you discounted, fast-track access to many of the attractions in and around London. Of course there are quite a few places that are not covered by the London Pass and for those you should try to look for discounted tickets online. Those are the best ways to save money in pricey England! Then again, try to plan as many back to back trips as possible. The reason is, that the longer the duration of your London Pass, the costlier it gets. So to save money, consider a shorter duration for your passes.

The benefit of being on a business trip is that my food and local transportation is paid for. That said, I still feel responsible for what I spend because after all I have some sort of ownership for being a part of the firm. Here are a few ideas to beat the high prices in London.

Transportation

London's an amazing walking city. If you come from a place like Bangalore, then you've perhaps missed a lot of the daily walking opportunities that London can offer. Its important to remember that most of London's sights are really close to each other in a very small radius. Walking is healthy, keeps you fit and helps you beat the pound. Most importantly, all great places are best explored on foot and there's no better way to know a city. One of my favorite resources is the list of walking tours that you can download from London South Bank's website.

For slightly longer hauls, use the extensive bus and tube network that London has to offer. In India we're very accustomed to flagging down a rickshaw or a taxi. Try the public transportation in London; its simply world class! If you buy a pay as you go Oyster card then you can make transportation even cheaper! Yes, there may be urgent situations when you will need a taxi. Try to limit those situations and use a black taxi, because then you know that you have a really seasoned, qualified driver that knows the city like the back of his hand.

Food

Its a great temptation to go to London's restaurants and I must say go for it! If you're trying to get value for money however, nothing beats the big English breakfast. Its a huge meal, meant especially for meat eaters such as myself and will generally have 2 eggs, 2 sausages, 2 hashes of bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, toast and your favorite blend of tea or coffee. Tuck one into yourself in the mornings and you can easily skip lunch if you need to. The inexpensive London sandwich is no secret really and if you walk around, you'll see dozens of sandwich shops that'll offer you great sandwiches at relatively cheap prices.
If you're keen on restaurants, look around Chinatown and Soho for some places that serve good food at great deals. Busaba Eathai in Soho, Store Street and Bird street is a personal favorite. Again, I know some people cringe at the thought of chains, but there are some chains that I really like. Busaba Eathai is an example. Chez Gerard (french cuisine) is yet another one. The key to enjoying London food, is to keep an open mind and not make generalizations. The only generalization I'll make is about Indian food. I'm sure Indian food here's a great experience, but I must say I don't have a great opinion of Indian food in London. Its way too English to be authentic! (But oh well, so is Chinese food in India!)

Lodging

London's expensive and lodging is bound to be pricey. If hostel type/ backpacking style accomodation doesn't bother you, I suggest you look at websites like Hostel World to find cheap accomodation. I'm sorry I don't have much first hand information about this, because my stay's taken care of by ThoughtWorks.

What else? Well I'm sure I'll gain some more experience with England in the next couple of weeks. I'm planning to visit Canterbury, Leeds Castle and other places close to London soon, so I'll perhaps mention more about that soon. My next weekend however, is to catch up with the sights of London I didn't see the last time I was here. Its a long weekend, and I'm hoping to use all three days to explore London in all its grandeur. So what I'll most definitely write about are my top 10 London sights. So that's my blog post for next Monday evening. In the mean time, you'll see a post on Socratic discussion and maybe something else.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Can you pray for my little pup?

Its been a few days since I last blogged and you may notice my momentum has slowed down. Part of it's been because I was traveling to London (where I am at the moment and will be for the next month or so. And part of it has been because my little dog, has been terribly ill and that's taken up a lot of my emotional space for the last few days. Tequila, my pup has my spirit -- she doesn't like to give up and is always in a good mood. She's naughty as hell, but she's equally loving. She's always up for a fight and size never matters to her as my bigger dog Sparky will understand. She's still a real girl and needs all the attention you can give her. I'm sure you understand that she's a creature that doesn't deserve to be the way she is right now.
Here's the back story. Tequila got really sick with babesiosis, a canine tick disease that's similar to malaria on the day I left India (last Friday). She's fought through the disease and has recovered from that terrible bout of fever (though the strong medication will leave her with yellow teeth for life). Now she's going through a worse time as she's battling rickets. For a sporting breed its perhaps the worst thing to happen, because she cant stand or walk. She is now going to be on a series of heavy injections for the next 7 days and beyond.

Back here in London, I'm helpless about this situation. All I can do is pray and I felt that if anyone reads this blog, I could ask them to pray for the well being of one of my family members. For Tequila's sake, its only fair that she can walk and play again and enjoy her short childhood. For her sake, I request that if you have the time then please do send a prayer and or a blessing her way. I'm sure your prayers and blessings will make a difference to her situation.Thank You!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Creating Presentation and E-learning characters with Poser

Often with your presentations and elearning, you need characters and stock photos are insanely expensive. I've been trying to find ways of creating characters for presentations at costs that are manageable for a little organization such as ours. We've tried doing our own stock photos and I'll write more about that soon (I think).





Recently though, I started playing around with Poser 7 on a friend's computer and this evening I got some time to borrow his laptop and play around with the tool. Its obviously a professional tool so it isn't as easy for a desktop user such as me to figure it out -- and I haven't figured it out yet. But after a few struggles, what I've been able to achieve with the tool is quite fantastic and I'm really excited by the possiblities. Next step -- buying a license. In the mean time, check out the story of my adventure with Poser above!

A quick warning though: time = money. If you're like me, it'll take you some time to get used to Poser 7, its features and interface. This means that you don't want to:
a) get into character creation when on a tight schedule to deliver a presentation or elearning module;
b) not save your models once you create them. If you do, you retain the opportunity to lend your characters different moods and apply those moods and postures to new characters.

So keep those thoughts in mind, and do try Poser 7 -- its available for both Windows and the Mac!

If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy my previous post on my "Experiences with Elearning on the Mac".
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