Tag Archives: professionalism

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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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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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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Slideshare of the Day: Advice for Graduates

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Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn has written one of my new favorite books and produced two decks that have absolutely inspired me as we move into the second half of the new year. The Start Up of You explains how an entrepreneurial spirit and approach can help all professionals (even us teachers) grow and develop.

His second deck, “The Three Secrets of Highly Successful Graduates”, is a must share (and view) from teachers to students. It’s also inspired me to add a few bits of Hoffman insight to my latest deck, “Tweak Your Resume”. Check out the deck below:

Tweak Your Resume Preview

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I felt Hoffman’s discussion of what competitive advantage means fit right in with why a visual resume is so useful.

What are your assets, aspirations, and how do those fit in with what your industry wants and needs?

What are your assets, aspirations, and how do those fit in with what your industry wants and needs?

Finally, here is draft two of my unemployment slide. What do you think, Margaret?

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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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November’s Outstanding Visual Resume

In an effort to promote the benefits of the visual resume as a worthy project for professionals in any field to take on (remember, this doesn’t and shouldn’t replace an actual resume), I am going to showcase a super student visual resume example each month. This month’s selection comes from Nick Weymouth, a student in this month’s Professional Communication and Presentation course. Nick does an impeccable job of designing this deck, and he conveys his story and unique point of view as a professional.

As I work to refine this project in the course, which began as a self-reflection project on the student’s month-long journey into public speaking, I look to find ways to adapt the approach to different professions. I am cooking up a survey to help me answer some core questions about the practical usability and adaptability of the project. So far, a few questions to consider are:

What has the response to your visual resume been so far? Do you feel the project represents you? What is the best means of delivering a visual resume? How much is too much in a visual resume? Is a movie stronger than a deck of slides?

I leave you with Visualizing Resumes 2.0, a work in progress deck I use in a visual resume workshop for teachers.

Do you have a visual resume? If not, what would your visual resume include?

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Visualizing Resumes 2.0

In between writing irate blog posts about the nature of inspiration vs. imitation in visual design, grading, attending workshops, attending final project, and attempting a few hours of exercise and life, I’ve found the time to update my deck on Visual Resumes. I am very proud of this new draft, having added stronger typefaces, cleaner overall unity, and integration of quoted material. This deck also features examples from two former superstudents, Crysta Timmerman and Spencer House. Give them a bit of love and check out their awesome takes on the visual resume approach.

 

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Losing my Superteacher Way and Finding it Again

This month has been the most challenging of my teaching career since my first class at Valencia College. At that time, my naivete about my audience’s willingness to discuss and openly question their political views ended up creating a pretty negative rapport between myself and several students. I have since then learned much about how to better navigate audience values, how to take command of my classroom and create a culture of respect, and how to still have fun while pushing students to really apply their critical thinking skills.

This month, though, this month has really tested not only my skills as a teacher, but my desire to continue doing this. I am used to apathy, disinterest, and dismissal as a teacher of both writing and speech. Students often don’t see the importance of strong communication skills, though they believe they definitely possess these excellent writing and speaking skills and know employers look for this in candidates. What made this month so much more challenging was extreme resistance and what I can only describe as a complete disregard for what it actually means for one to be a professional. As my class is called Professional Communication and Presentation, I feel it is important to hold students accountable for the attributes they will be held to in the workforce.

Being a student is one of our first tests as professionals. One’s ability to follow instructions, provide clear referencing of information and image sources, respectfulness for others when they are presenting, speaking, or teaching, timeliness and attendance, respectful language, and a commitment to quality are all skills we grow first as students. This is part of what is meant by professionalism, a term which began as a reference to the devotion with which an individual approached the church’s work in the 13th century. Students consistently showed up to class late, were openly disrespectful, and focused only on the negatives of having a challenging set of classes (this is too much work–you don’t really expect it to be good, do you?). Students seemed surprised when they were held accountable for work they’d committed to. Students illustrated (up to today, the last day) that they’d read none of the assigned readings, listened to very little of the in-class lessons, and internalized only the bits they had to to pass the class.

The situation deteriorated so far that I lost all gusto and fire for the subjects I love so much. My audience in turn lost all interest in the subject. So, what did I do to create this situation? From my perspective, it was my vehemence for following basic rules of attribution, respect for classmates, respect for the subject, and accountability that created an adversarial relationship between myself and this group of learners. So, what do I do? Be more lenient? Forget about things like attribution, strong credible sources, and respect for class time, instructors, and class members?

What I found ironic about the complete disconnect between my students and myself is that these students were actually insanely smart–one had been one semester away from an aerospace engineering degree. Another’s fascinating presentation on the role of chaos in the formation of the universe, while too focused on information to truly be a persuasive presentation, captivated me nonetheless. Several of the students were voracious readers, not the norm in young people these days. But, it was the entire structure of education that alienated them. These students wanted the freedom to ask questions and determine the course of their educational journeys–this is commendable and a quality that should be nurtured in young people. However, they were ill equipped to self-direct their own learning journeys because they cannot function in the academic model (and, yes, though I believe in creativity, autonomy, and conceptual thinking, I do believe that education should in a sense be academic, at least in the sense that students are educated to understand their responsibilities as leaders and experts in their chosen field of study). Ken Robinson, one of my educational heroes, claims that we are getting our students through education by anesthetizing them, working to serve the interests of industrialism. I call this fast food education–this focus on making education the same for everyone. This model leads to the belief that school is just a mandatory process of indoctrination that must be suffered and endured. I believe we must reinforce Robinson’s concept of divergent thinking and change educational paradigms–we must continually push our students to “think laterally”, to go beyond the standard solutions to the increasingly complex problems of the 21st century. However, every individual deserves respect and we cannot escape our responsibilities as professional stewards of our expanded knowledge–both students and teachers. Check out the rest of Robinson’s RSA talk below.

This month was a serious bummer, and a real wake up call to me. Not everyone wants to learn, not everyone cares, and sometimes, no matter what we do, once an audience is completely closed off, it’s best just to focus on how to better serve future learners so that the situation is not repeated. I’ve spent a good two weeks castigating myself, considering and questioning every pedagogical and instructional decision of the past three years, and generally thinking of ways to engage students in the process of becoming better speakers, finding opportunities for them to autonomously develop their strengths and areas of improvement, and developing a stronger definition of professionalism and the importance of strong communication skills. I am happily working on a new first day discussion of the term “professional” and helping my amazing online students develop their PechaKucha presentations. I also found out today that a club I am co-sponsoring, the Young Democrats Club, has been approved. I cannot wait to get to work with a new bunch of students in support of the YDC’s platform.

I am still a superteacher and this is the learning revolution!

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It’s been too long–I truly missed you

It’s been a crazy few weeks, and readers can expect to see a barage of posts in the next few days as I finally get this new online class revamp process done with the help of superteacher Alex Rister:

1. Shortbread 8-ways: A review 

I’ll let you know which cookie I hoarded for myself, which I still haven’t eaten more than one of, which one was amazing, yet inexorably frustrating (like my non-racist, socialist ex-boyfriend), and which one I’ll be making again in the near future.

2. Professionalism Lessons from The Professional

After the most recent incident regarding communication and professionalism fails, I’ve decided to let Leon, the professional hitman from Luc Besson’s 1994 masterpiece take over on what it means to be a true professional.

3. Audience Needs Persona: the Faculty Persona

I’ve decided to start with faculty in developing my target audience/market personas; this is the group which it would seem I have the most in common, but whom I can’t seem to really convince to take the time to apply those visual design principles consistently.

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