Resources for Presenters and Trainers

Free! "10 Tips for Effective E-mail"

Free! "5 Ways for Overcoming Death by PowerPoint™"

Training Programs in Communication Skills

Who We Are: Associates'  Biographies


Welcome to

The Standup Trainer Newsletter

July 2007

Brought to you by Ellen Dowling, PhD ("The Standup Trainer") and the fine folks of Dowling & Associates, Inc.



This newsletter is guaranteed certifiably useful as well as amusing. (If you are not completely satisfied, there are unsubscribe instructions at the end. But we're betting you'll change your mind by the time you get there.)

Welcome to all new and continuing subscribers!

In this issue:

A discussion of why it's a good idea to include games and activities in your presentations and/or training sessions.

Dear Dr. Standup:

I heard somewhere that trainers were supposed to include games in their sessions, but frankly, I hate playing games with adults! I despise getting into groups and passing around a nerf ball, or inventing silly names for my co-participants. And I really loathe any kind of activity that requires me to actually TOUCH (shudder) another person in the class.

Am I just a spoilsport? Does anyone else share my disdain for what I believe to be irritating timewasters?


I Won't Play, Don't Ask Me

Dear Won't:

You remind me of a training colleague I knew some time ago: The minute the facilitator would announce, "OK, now I need for you all to get into groups of 5 or 6 . . . ," this guy would bolt from the room. No way was he going to take part in anything he figured would be silly or irrelevant.

Unfortunately for him, he missed quite a few opportunities for insight and learning. Not all interactive activities need be "Kumbayah" time fillers. If carefully planned and prepared, they can be meaningful experiences that lead to "Aha" moments and important insights.

I was reminded of the efficacy of interaction in public speaking when I recently read an article by Elliott Massie about how he designs a keynote speech. What struck me in particular was how he plugs interactive activities into the keynote format. Most speakers, I believe, would not even consider that they could actually involve the audience in their speech. "It's a SPEECH!" I'm sure they'd cry. "They hired ME to do all the talking, didn't they?!?"

Here's how Massie does it: "The first 180 seconds are key. In that 180 seconds the audience is evaluating me and making a decision how engaged they will be for the coming 90 minutes. So, I start with a few polls and rapidly have them talking to each other at their tables. In other words, it immediately shifts from a speech to an interactive session."

Notice he is not talking about silly games here. (There are no nerf balls anywhere in sight.) He is just asking the participants to interact with each other, a sure-fire technique for upping the energy level in the room, and a great way to start a keynote.

"For me," Massie continues, "a keynote is a blend of pre-planned content, stories, and activities . . . along with improvisational elements that come from the participants and the 'moment.' When I ask them to all stand up, walk to another table and talk to each other for 3 minutes, it is all about engagement and dialogue."

You want to kick start your participants' brains and guarantee that they will take away some useful "takeaways" from your session? Engagement and dialogue: That's the secret.

Dr. Standup

[Note to Dear Readers: In upcoming editions of this newsletter, I will show you how to add interactive activities to a variety of teaching and presenting situations. In the meantime, you can also email me a description of one of your own situations and I will suggest ways that you, too, can engage and energize your audiences (without causing them to flee from the room).]

[Another Note to Dear Readers: Some of my more perceptive (possibly analytical) readers may have noticed that this is the July newsletter, and that you never received the June newsletter. Alas, there was no June newsletter; June completely slipped away from me as I spent most of the month preparing to travel to Northern Ireland and bring 72 teenagers back to the US as part of the Children's Friendship Project for Northern Ireland . I made the journey there and back in late June, and now the teens (in pairs, one Catholic, one Protestant) are safely ensconced with their host families all around the US . As I type this, my two teens (Siobhan and Rachel) are amusing themselves at the mall (they are teenagers, remember), so now maybe I can get some work done?]

That's it for this month! If you enjoyed this newsletter please do pass it on to your friends. (Or send them to www.standuptrainer.com to get their own subscription. Why should YOU have to do everything for them?)

If you have a suggestion for something we could do to make this newsletter even MORE useful as well as amusing, please contact us:

Dowling & Associates, Inc.
Ellen Dowling, President
(505) 307-1700