Tag Archives: professional persona

Story differentiates your body of work

In today’s world of work, which is characterized by abundance, instability, and ingenuity, professionals have to find ways to differentiate themselves from the many others out there who possess the same or similar skills. How does one rise to the top of a mountain of great communicators, strong work ethics, and innovative, effective, responsible workers (these words all come from LinkedIn’s top ten most overused buzzwords of 2013)?

In oder to differentiate yourself and maximize your competitive advantage, you have to tell your story. Pamela Slim, author of Body of Work: Finding the thread that ties your story together, uses story herself to illustrate the resonance an engaging story can have. She tells the story of her father and John Legend among others, and shares her advice via stories of her own experiences as a career coach.  What story does is place your body of work:”…everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact. For individuals, it is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including all the tangible and intangible things you have created” (Source) into a unique context.

Slim’s book is a great starting point for discovering how to tell your story, but you can also draw much inspiration from the remarkable examples of professional stories on Slideshare.net. One such story is Matt Henshaw’s “How to Rock the Perfect LinkedIn Profile”:

Henshaw’s deck is of course a beautiful example of clean, minimalist design. It’s also one of the best examples of a professional story I’ve seen since David Crandall’s “Anti-Resume Manifesto.” Henshaw tells the story of being “this close” to achieving his dream–being a professional musician–losing a major record contract, redefining himself as a college graduate and computer science sustainability research assistant (phew!), finding his way back to his passion, and articulating a successful plan to pursue this passion as career.

It’s so difficult to tell our own stories at times, especially through a visual medium. Finding the right way to begin a story that for us has very fuzzy beginnings can stop most of us from sharing that story with others (no one tells you to think about how working at a local grocery store is the start of you becoming a teacher 20 years later). Matt’s deck is both inspirational and useful. It shows us that a story can compel viewers, contextualize “failure”, and that careful attention to every version of your story on the web can make a difference. If you want to maximize your competitive advantage, create a body of work and then tell your story.

 

 

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What are your talents?

Two months ago, a student introduced me to one of the most useful resources for developing a professional brand and persona. During a class break, the student pulled up a site called talentoday.com. I saw the student answering a series of questions, then studying a visualization and set of descriptors. All it took was a peek to realize that this could be a wonderful brainstorming and content-building exercise for developing a personal brand.

Talent Today is a free service whose goal is to help users determine their professional personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and motivators. The site is designed for current students and new grads, but the questionnaire and accompanying personality report can be enlightening to veteran professionals as well.

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Many of my questionnaire’s findings aligned with how I already perceive and define myself as a professional–I feel at ease in public and love to meet new people; I find it easy to take on a leadership role and readily volunteer for new initiatives; I believe that innovation is important; I don’t handle stress very well (or as well as I’d like); and I prefer collaboration to competition.

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A few of the findings challenged me to reexamine how I approach work, particularly how low on the motivations scale private/personal life was. I also appreciated the overall analysis of my talents (conscientiousness, responsibility, determination) and my areas of growth (identifying and dealing with sources of stress, remaining loyal to professional ambitions).

My Talent ID gives me a set of percentages based on strengths and areas of growth.

My Talent ID gives me a set of percentages based on strengths and areas of growth.

All in all, my report shows the areas in which I am already excelling (and can continue to grow in) and the areas that need more attention. Such self-analysis is critical for success in Pamela Slim’s “new world of work” (Source).

Take a moment to complete your Talent Today report. What were your talents? Motivators? Areas of growth?

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Data Display of the Day: Climbing the Mountain of Resumes

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As the PCP reboot really takes off, Alex Rister and I are working on developing our weekly lessons/modules using a blend of video, image, and text-based instructional assets. Our ultimate goal for the reboot is to help our students understand what the true connection between effective presenting and professional success is. Why do they need to analyze their growth as professionals so far? How does this analysis better serve them when they present themselves online or in person? I truly believe that communicating and presenting your ideas to others is the most important skill a professional at any level can learn, especially when it comes to landing that dream job, keeping that dream job, and finding others with whom to collaborate. Today’s infographic can help our students take the project they create in Professional Communication and Presentation and present it in a way that is going to help them climb to the top of the resume mountain. This infographic, created by Kelly Services, provides job seekers with some excellent advice (some of which I really need to take on!). The connecting thread is audience awareness and adaptation. Just as in a strong presentation, a job seeker must adapt to his or her audience’s needs to better persuade and motivate them to act.

1. Make sure your resume aligns with your target company

Creating a different resume for each company may seem tedious, but it can make the difference between a resume that catches a recruiter’s eye and a resume that gets put in the virtual or physical trashcan.

2. Know your target company’s culture

As the infographic explains, in our age of connectivity and instant access to information, it’s easier than ever to conduct research on a company and adapt your approach to their needs.

3. Be confident and attentive

Those who are hiring you want to hire someone who is confidence in his or her abilities (not cocky!) and who is “present” during an interview. Show recruiters you are confident that you are not only a good fit for the job but also that you are confident in your definition of what it means to be a professional.

4. Don’t forget to say thank you

Whether via an email or phone call, show gratitude for the time your “audience” gave you.

What are your interview “must dos”? What did you do to land that dream job?

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Blissfully Growing My Body of Work

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I know I’ve said it already, but Pamela Slim’s book Body of Work is amazing–a real life changer. I finished the book last night and it’s helped me continue the introspective task of examining my own body of work and identifying the thread that holds that body of work together. My two months off classroom teaching have already been incredibly productive. Not only have I created the structure for the new Professional Communication and Presentation class, I’ve also been working on the following this month:

  • Becoming the faculty advisor for the Full Sail Student Book Club
  • Advising students as they prepare their Strategic Business Planning final projects and Sports Marketing final projects
  • Advising the International Student Office on their recruitment materials
  • Reworking an executive’s resume and executive bio
  • Advising collegiate DECA students on their presentations
  • Signing up for leadership training at my institution
  • Volunteering to be an online learning platform “super user”
  • Finalizing my application to the Doctorate of Education in Higher Education at the University of Central Florida
  • Perfecting my homemade mojo and homemade tortilla recipes

One area of work I am particularly proud of is the resurgence of some good ol’ faculty collaboration in the Liberal Studies department!

Finalizing the Brown Bag Extravaganza for Liberal Studies

  • I pitched the Liberal Studies Round Table initiative to my superiors in 2013. Initially, my vision for this was as a forum for collaboration, a place where faculty from different departments in the Liberal Studies family could come together and share best practices. The RT had a rough start and faculty yearned for a more informal forum in which to meet and collaborate. This year, I’ve collaborated with faculty from Digital Literacy and Creative Writing to rebrand and revamp the initiative. After scouring faculty for topics and interests, we are one meeting away from finalizing our first session, a more informal meet up where faculty can share best practices and challenges we all face. Our first focus will be GoTo Training. I cannot wait to collaborate with other faculty and have meaningful conversations about how we use this tool and how we can use it more effectively! Here is the flyer I created this week to market the event:

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Professional Communication and Presentation Reboot: Challenges

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This month marks my first break from both campus and online teaching since October. This is usually a time for me to review my approach to teaching the campus and online iterations of Professional Communication and Presentation. In addition to teaching, two of my most fulfilling roles as the lead instructor for this course are instructional designer and curriculum developer. The campus version of PCP changes a bit each month because I can note new areas for growth and opportunity, can consult with campus students on what works and what doesn’t work, and I can see live whether or not a lesson resonates with the students and translates into positive results. The online course, however, requires a bit more time, objective assessment, and analysis to adapt. This usually means that during the months I am not on campus I coordinate a major reboot of the overall structure, lessons, learning materials, and assignments based on the big challenges I noted for the previous six months or so of a previous iteration.

In analyzing the course this time around, I noted several challenges, opportunities, and action items. Alex Rister and I are firmly in the research and development phase. As she noted yesterday on Creating Communication, we’ve found a few amazing sources to draw from including Pamela Slim’s Body of Work. In this post, I’ll cover the big challenges this course faces now. Next, I’ll cover how I’m working to turn those challenges into opportunities, and finally share how the course will adapt and change over the next two months.

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Challenge #1: The lack of synchronous communication

As Alex discussed in her public speaking online series, teaching a presentation and communication class online is a real challenge. Everything we teach students is based on developing, designing, and delivering a presentation to a live audience. From audience analysis and slide design to “naked” delivery, the need for a live audience engaging with a presenter is ever present. Furthermore, students learn better when given an opportunity to present in the way they will likely do so in their everyday professional lives. However, we’ve been tasked with teaching this course online, despite the body of evidence that emphasizes the importance of synchronicity in online learner success (Source). So, it will be important in the next two months to bring in more instances of synchronicity. Currently, the PCP team uses iChat/Aim, Skype, and GoTo Meeting to add a synchronous element to the course, but we have not found the solution to helping students present synchronously to their classmates/teachers or to a physical audience.

Challenge #2: Understanding and engaging in presentation as a process

The biggest reason for the last reboot was to help alleviate a serious deficiency that we’ve managed to work on successfully in the face to face iteration of the course–students do not understand either the importance of or the need for engaging in a presentation process. While we talk about Nancy Duarte’s presentation ecosystem and structure the course so that students develop a portion (outline, slides, rehearsal) of their major project, an Ignite presentation, each week, many students still wait until the last minute to develop that piece and are often confused when their PCP instructor asks them to revise their outline and then implement that revision in the storyboard/design for the slides. Helping students understand how each piece fits together and also building in opportunities for them to take their time before submitting official drafts of their work is our second challenge in the reboot.

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This visualization of the presentation process by design firm Idea Transplant has been and will become an even stronger cornerstone of the course.

Challenge #3: Streamlining content

Perhaps it’s my background as a learner (I devour as much information as I can about a subject and love when there’s something new to learn and explore about a subject), but I can definitely recognize that both on campus and online I share too much information, which just leaves students feeling overwhelmed. Yes, it’s all great information, but if any of it is redundant, too complex, or repetitive, what’s the point in including it? So, our third challenge will be to reduce the number of lessons and assets to the most important and needed learning materials.

Challenge #4: Universalizing the experience for multiple degree programs

PCP began as a course offered only to music business and entertainment bachelor of science students. In the past five years, the course has expanded to other programs–computer animation, game art, game development, internet marketing, music production, media communications, and software development. While the course’s current structure, develop, design, and deliver, a persuasive speech is definitely general enough to encompass all of these programs, our students’ needs have changed. Whereas some students present informative and persuasive presentations on a regular basis to audiences, some students will only ever have to present their body of work to a potential employee or client. This leaves them wondering just how this skill will help them in the future. So, how do we communicate to students just how important and necessary strong professional presentation skills are? That’s our fourth challenge.

Challenge #5: Emphasizing the first P in Professional Communication and Presentation

Professionalism is important at my school, but it’s even more important in a class with the title Professional Communication and Presentation. Currently, the campus class devotes a week or so of in class time to the concept of a professional persona and communicating professional brand via a visual resume. However, this was removed in the last reboot of the online class to help streamline the approach and give students more time on the Ignite presentation. This means that our online students spend very little time if any truly exploring and practicing what it means to be a professional communicator. Our final challenge will be to refocus persuasion and presentation towards building professionalism.

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4 (but really 6) steps to creating a visual resume

This week in Professional Communication and Presentation, the focus is the visual resume, a project I developed several years ago after seeing my friend Christin’s Prezume. I am currently working on a revamp of mine to match the new teaching portfolio and teaching philosophy infographic I worked on last year and this year, and ran across this article from Ethos3’s Scott Schwertly titled “Four Steps to Creating a Visual Resume“. In it, Schwertly shares some tips (six in total) I will be sharing with my students tomorrow. Schwertly advises visual resume creators to remember the importance of that first slide; catching your audience’s attention with that first slide will help set you apart from the crowd and also provide sufficient visual stimulus that makes the audience want to know more. Empowered Presentations, a Honolulu-based presentation design firm tasks each of their associates with creating a visual resume that showcases the individual’s abilities and personality. The first slide of each EP visual resume establishes the tone and feel for the presentation and the presenter’s personality:

Another tip Schwertly shares with readers in this article is brand yourself. This to me is one of the most important lessons to learn about a strong visual resume (and a big area I’m working on in my new version). Consistency in design that communicates and conveys who you are to your audience is key to a strong visual resume. I love love love how David Crandall brands himself as the anti-cog superhero in his Anti-Resume Manifesto:

One final tip I’ll share with you from the article is “Ask for It.” A visual resume is your chance to let a prospective company or client know exactly why they should want to work with you. As Schwertly says, “you need to provide purpose and meaning behind your visual resume.” Not inviting the audience to contact you is akin to closing a presentation with “that’s it.” It simply tells the audience you’ve wasted their time and they can now go about doing something more important. Slideshare user Yuri Artibise ends his presentation with two simple ideas: 1. That’s my story; what’s yours and how can I help? and 2. Here’s how we can connect. This gives the presentation that sense of purpose it needs to propel it forward in the audience’s mind.

Have you built your visual resume yet? If not, Schwertly’s article is a great starting point. Check out the rest here!

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Eek! I actually have to tweak my resume!

Slideshare.net recently featured my latest deck, Tweak your Resume as a top presentation of the day. Thank you, Slideshare! I hope that this deck, even more so than some of my other recent additions, gets the conversation going full force on the subject of visual resumes.

A viewer, Lorne Marr, had this to say about the visual resume approach, which really got me thinking about the best way to disseminate and spread this message:

Recently, I’ve encountered several people who overdone their resume, making them look like supermen and superwomen with experiences and skills impossible for their age and past experiences, but the worst part was the arrogant tone in which it was written. But I agree with you that a resume has to have an answer to the most important question – why choose me?

So, as presenters, we must find a way to convey our unique perspectives but also avoid being dishonest about our experiences and abilities. I am planning on reviving my on site workshop for faculty and staff on this subject using the new deck I created along with other awesome examples, and in preparation for this, I have revisited my first visual resume and am fervently working on restructuring, reforming, and revising the first version.  So far, I’ve begun migrating visuals from my Superteacher Infographic into a traditional Keynote slide. I love the superteacher icon, and the colors I’ve chosen speak to who I am as a person and professional. In reorganizing my deck, I am taking a cue from the biographical structure used by Empowered Presentations in their visual resume series:

I love how much cohesion exists between this series of presentations, but I also love how each one communicates the story and vision of the presenter.

I was also inspired by Alex Rister’s visual resume as well as David Crandall’s Anti-resume Manifesto, both of which open with information that sets a tone or context for the specific person’s skills, qualities, and experiences.

Here are my first few slides. I’d love to get your feedback readers!

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Fresh Deck: Tweak Your Resume

Happy Monday! This week in Professional Communication and Presentation, we are talking advanced visual design and applying it to the visual resume project. In preparation, I’ve debuted my next deck and labor of love, Tweak Your Resume.

I am a big fan of the visual resume (though mine is definitely a work in progress), and have written about it before.

Tweak your Image: The Visual Resume Final Project

Be the Signal, Not the Noise: Develop a Visual Resume

Love the Visual Resume–Seriously!

November’s Outstanding Visual Resume

Visualizing Resumes 2.0

Have you added a visual element to your professional persona? What tools do you use to create a visually appealing resume/professional profile?

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My Teaching Philosophy: an Infographic

In preparation for our focus for Week 2, part 1 of PCP, I’ve cooked up an infographic add-on to my teaching portfolio. I used the colors I’d created for our Liberal Studies Round Table sessions and after much tweaking, I found a way to communicate my teaching philosophy/brand mantra, instructional design approach, teaching style, and leadership approach. I hope to show this as an alternative to what students can create using Keynote, and the basic building blocks of a strong deck or visualization: color, type, shape, and image/iconography.

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Have you been working on your professional persona? What did you choose as your medium?

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Slideshare of the Day: Start-up of You

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This week in Professional Communication and Presentation, we’ve been discussing the visual resume project. A visual resume can be a great addition to your online portfolio. As wel learned during yesterday’s mini-discussion, it can also be an amazing way to blend the print resume with the digital form, as Victor Petit does in his QR code visual resume:

QR CODE – Content-rich Resume from Victor petit on Vimeo.

But, before one can develop an amazing and unique approach to the visual resume (one benefit to the rise in this approach is the plethora of good examples out there, but a detriment is that it’s now a bit more difficult to set oneself apart), one must know what one wants to convey to the target audience of the visual resume, whether it is a client, company, or collaborator. Students often struggle the most with this aspect of resume building due to anxiety over perceived or actual inexperience. However, young people are not alone in this–all of us must deal with the anxiety of knowing just who and what we are as professionals. I am lucky enough to have a career that is also my bliss, but that doesn’t mean that just like my students, I don’t struggle with finding my place as a professional.

This is where Top Presentation of the Day, Start-up of You by Co-founder and Chairman of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman comes in. Having just uploaded a successful 110-slide presentation, I had to check out this mega deck–I am happy I did. I haven’t made enough use of LinkedIn, and after perusing this immersive deck, I don’t know why. This summary of the book Start-up of You poses a very simple idea–that all of us need to think like entrepreneurs–not just those who function in that same role. Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha firmly believe that our success as professionals depends on recapturing and maximizing entrepreneurship–of our own careers. I have added the book to my Nook list of reads, and you should too. But in the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out the excellent deck below:

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