Ideas and Insights

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  • 09/08/2020 9:24 AM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    You know the benefits of attending professional conferences.  They’re filled with opportunities to:

    • Learn something new

    • Develop professional relationships

    • Gain Inspiration

    • And there’s a little bit of the fun factor

    But these days, the opportunities for attending professional conferences are diminishing.  And we’re not just referencing the pandemic.  You may not have the budget, either for the travel expenses or for the conference itself.  You may not have the time.  


    With all that in mind, ATD Orange County presents the micro conference.  Our microconference is a “mashup” of microlearning and professional conference.  Four sessions distilled to their essential information, each session lasting approximately 20 minutes.  

    • How has your organization been handling the change management initiatives forced upon them by the SARS-CoV2 pandemic?  Get some ideas on how to better address change management issues using the STAR Method.

    • Have you been facilitating or attending more virtual training sessions or meetings?  Contribute to our panel’s virtual meeting lessons learned discussion.  Or check out ways to jazz up your online meetings.

    • Looking to address the critical skills necessary for a team to function effectively?  Participate in a critical skills case study.

    All this, and the opportunity to develop professional relationships, can be achieved during this month’s ATD-Orange County MicroConference 2020.

    This September 23, join us to connect, invest, grow, and be back home in time for prime time television.

  • 08/20/2020 8:37 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    Watch a few episodes of Shark Tank, and you'll see that those who do not completely understand the numbers that run their business do not get investors.

    Knowing your numbers is important, they'll explain.  And if you don't know your numbers, you don't know your business.

    Finance is not the most glamorous topic in the business world.  But it is one of the most crucial.  For business owners, a clear comprehension of their company's financial statements allows them to make strategic decisions that support the organization's growth and long-term profitability.

    For the talent developer, that same comprehension of their company's financial statements allows them to position their department so that it aligns within the organization's strategic decisions.  A talent development leader who ensures their their team's efforts contribute to the profitability of the organization will be able to position their department above the designation of "cost center."

    Next month, BizSIG Leader and passionate advocate of fiscal familiarity Jeffrey Hansler will lead a three-session conversation titled Finance for the Non-Financial Talent Development Specialists.  And although this series will be facilitated with the talent developer in mind, the skills he plans to share will be valuable for anyone seeking to grasp the basics of accounting, financial statements, and decision making through the eyes of the CFO.

    Jeffrey's made this readily accessible, scheduling both mid-day and evening time slots.  

    If you're ready to position yourself as someone "in the know" in your organization, or if you're considering starting your own consultancy and want to ensure you have a firm grasp on the numbers that drive your business, this is a singular opportunity to explore finances with someone who shares the talent developer's point of view.

    Learn more, and register for Finance for the Non-Financial Talent Development Specialists today!


  • 07/28/2020 2:05 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    “What do you do to ensure your participants and your stakeholders that virtual training doesn't have to be "less than" classroom training?”  

    We were addressing a challenge many organizations are facing today: creating meaningful, impactful, engaging training in an environment notorious for being anything but.  The field is filled with “talking head” webinars.  Six months into the substitution of virtual meetings for all other meetings, employees are fighting “Zoom fatigue.”  The consensus among all our Virtual Happy Hour participants is that organizations have accepted the need for virtual training in order for them to continue, and we’re all working with methods for ensuring that training sticks.

    One method stuck out to me.

    “We’re experimenting with multiple speakers,” shared Tom Partridge.  Taking inspiration from podcasts, he spoke about how people regularly listen to hour-long conversations between two or three people about a wide variety of topics, frequently binging episodes like one might binge a Netflix series.

    “So, I won’t say we’re scripting this out, but we’re trying to pre-plan points.  We’re trying to make it into a conversation that evolves.”  This way, it would come across as though the facilitators are discovering ideas while they’re talking about them.

    Leading a conversation was key. “Our larger trainings are more conversation than content,” added Nancy Ingram.   Subject matter experts would provide some information, but the remainder of the learning came from the experiences the participants shared.  

    An ambitious project, to be sure.  

    “It’s always in the planning,” Vern Vihlene advised.  He went on to share his experience with Dreamworks.  “They map out their movies on the walls throughout the building, and they plan the movie’s highs, and the lows.”    We need to do that for training as well, he concluded.


    An opportunity for talent developers to explore ways to enhance the virtual training experience, ATD-OC’s Virtual Happy Hour can be either an informal sharing of the many thoughts and ideas of our participants, or a sandbox in which our facilitators try new interactions in the meeting platform, and discuss how these activities can be applied in the “real world.”  


    What about you?  In what ways are you experimenting with the virtual training platform?



  • 06/20/2020 6:45 AM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    Attend one of our virtual learning events, and you'll probably recognize that we're continuously experimenting with what we can do in our meeting platforms of choice*.  Last week's Virtual Networking Event was no exception.

    The platform of choice for this event was Zoom.  Zoom had initially been designed for venture capital pitches, with a priority given for displaying everyone's video.  In Zoom, everyone can see everyone's face, as long as their cameras are on.  


    Initial Challenges

    For most virtual meetings, breakout rooms seem to be the elephant in the cloud.  This event, with its planned multiple breakout rooms, was no exception.

    We had intended to utilize Zoom's "Pre-Assign Breakout Room" option, which can be quite simple to use.  Once your attendees register for the meeting in the Zoom platform, you can create the breakout rooms in advance and assign them to any room you choose.

    But ATD-OC uses a separate registration system.  Participants register there, and usually only register in the Zoom platform just before the Zoom meeting.  What to do?

    Fortunately, Zoom has an option to import rooms and participants from a CSV file.  We tested that, creating a spreadsheet that listed the email addresses of our registrants and matching them to breakout room names.  We imported that CSV file to the Zoom meeting description before the meeting began, and Zoom did the rest.



    It's really quite handy. 

    See that note on the bottom?  "You can create up to 50 breakout rooms and assign up to a total of 200 participants?"  You definitely don't want to do that manually.

    But, the catch:  During the meeting, you cannot launch only part of your breakout rooms.

    We had three breakout sessions planned, with eight to ten breakout rooms per session.  With no way to launch only 1/3 of the breakout rooms at a time, the ability to pre-assign attendees to rooms only solved part of our problem.

    Our solution, then, was to pre-assign the last breakout room group, and manually assign the first two breakout sessions.  We had planned for some main room discussion as people joined.  And then some main room discussion in between breakout room sessions one and two.   Which brings us to our lessons learned.

    Lessons Learned

    One: The larger the event, the more time you need between breakout sessions to manually assign attendees.
    It takes longer to manually assign people to breakout rooms that you may think.  This isn’t a big issue if you can get away with randomly assigning attendees to your breakout rooms.  We couldn’t. 

    Two:  Don't plan for more than two breakout room sessions in a 90 minute meeting. 
    While we endeavored to keep our breakout rooms small, in some cases we had just barely gotten through introductions when receiving the prompt to return to the main room.  More time in each breakout session would have allowed for deeper connections.

    Three: Set a cut-off time for registration.
    With a lot of moving parts to the event, last minute registrants challenged us when assigning people to breakout rooms. Since they weren’t on our roster, we weren’t as able to assign them to the best room.  

    Four:  Include a request: if people are unable to attend the event, let us know in advance. 
    When manually populating the breakout rooms, one of the biggest challenges (after properly sorting the roster) was searching for people on the roster who were not in the meeting.  Had they cancelled, and been removed from the roster, assignments would have sped up.

    Five: Too much tech is too much.
    One of the ways we had proposed attendees connect after the meeting is by sharing their LinkedIn QR Code.  Which is a fun way to connect, but it actually became cumbersome for people to share and scan and listen at the same time.  Much easier to post a LinkedIn Profile in that old standby, chat.


    There were some other, smaller lessons learned.  Better sorting of the registration roster.  Have facilitators update their name in Zoom to indicate that they are facilitating.  End on time (always end on time!  But I couldn't let that last breakout room theme go!).  I think the five I listed were the biggest. 


    What would you add to this list?  We encourage you to provide your thoughts in the comments below.


    * We use two, now.  Zoom, and GoToTraining.  We're about to try Google Meet**.

    ** Because it's there, and we're in no position to climb Mount Everest.  

  • 05/07/2020 5:18 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    I wanted to give a quick run-down of some of the tips that were shared during this afternoon's Virtual Happy Hour, because somebody (me) neglected to record the session.

    Lynn Nissen shared an interesting take on the name tent icebreaker in which participants apply codes in the upper corner of their name tent to quickly indicate relevant information about that person.  In our exercise, we used Zoom's rename feature to indicate employment status, years in training, and comfortability networking.

    For example:  Paul V E 23 ':(

    LinkedIn has innovated ways to utilize their app to strengthen your networking power, and Rebekah Hartman expanded that to the virtual realm with this interesting tip.  Use the LinkedIn App to generate a LinkedIn QR Code.  Save that as your profile picture.  When you stop your video in Zoom, your profile picture (now that QR code) will appear, and folks on the webinar who might be interested in connecting with you can scan that.

    I'm a big fan of QR codes to connect people with information.  Using them to connect people with people is brilliant.

    Those were two out of several great ideas for strengthening your online networking game.  Today's was a spirited discussion, so much so that we'll be repeating this topic at the start of each month for the foreseeable future. 

    See you then?


    via GIPHY

  • 03/19/2020 12:14 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    The feedback on the course was good, but not great.  The content wasn’t questioned, but the participants said that the instructions were confusing.  Later, the design team reviewed the instructions and debated what words could have been chosen to make them clearer.  

    In the end, it wasn’t the words that had challenged the learners.  It was the UX, or the User Experience.

    Let’s examine that term.  I’ll quote from Wikipedia: 

    “User experience (UX) is a person's emotions and attitudes about using a particular product, system, or service. It includes the practical, experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person's perceptions of system aspects such as utility, ease of use, and efficiency. User experience may be subjective in nature to the degree that it is about individual perception and thought with respect to a product or system. User experience varies dynamically, constantly modifying over time due to changing usage circumstances. Simplified, user experience is about how a user interacts with, and experiences, a product.”

    There’s a lot to unpack from that definition.

    • A person’s emotions and attitudes.
      How does your learner view training?  Do they look forward to it, because by completing the module they’ll perform better?  Or do they view it as an interruption to their workday? 
    • A person’s perceptions of the system.
      Realizing we might be at a disadvantage because the user has to access training via your LMS, what does the person think about online training? 
    • The human-computer interaction
      How does the learner interact with your training?  Is it how you anticipated?

    When creating an online course (and this can apply to the virtual ILT you create as well as the eLearning modules), you’ll want to approach your design as a learner, not as a developer.  You’re aware of all the things that the system can do, but the learner has a different perception of how the course should work. They will predict what they should do next based upon their perception of how things ought to work, and they will apply their beliefs multiple times before they consider yours. 

    Should your course interface cause your learner to struggle to access information, it will impact learner perception of the course and, ultimately, reduce their ability to learn.

    So how did UX impact our pilot?  For the second pilot launch, we sat in the back of the room to respond to learner questions as they navigated the course. At a pertinent screen, the learners paused. The Next button had been disabled, and a different prompt sat on the screen to get them to start an activity.  Of the fifteen learners present, two selected the prompt quickly. The rest spent time searching, their cursors roving back and forth across the screen until they finally located the prompt.  

    The feedback at the end of the second pilot was similar to the first.  The learners were confused as to what they needed to do.

    Except for the two learners who had found and selected the prompt quickly.  

    In this month's webinar, The Product Approach to Learning - An Introduction to Learner Experience Design, Matthew Daniel will be discussing ways the talent developer needs to consider the learner’s approach to their training experience as we create our training.  What will cause the learner to interrupt their learning while they try to figure out what to do? What will frustrate the learner as they are progressing through the module, hindering the transfer of learning?  

    An informal, no-holds-barred facilitator Matthew Daniel will inspire the passion he has for the Learner Experience in you.

    Register today! 





  • 03/18/2020 3:47 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    In this webinar, Corena Bahr shared practical techniques not only to engage your participants in a virtual environment, but to encourage them.

    In this webinar, we focused on:

    • 3 Habits that need to change
    • Translating in-person activities online
    • Extending learning before and after
    • Managing in-session engagement

    This was one of our highest evaluated webinars.  Click here (or on the image above) and get some good tips as you gear up for facilitating your next class virtually.

    (Membership not required for viewing)

  • 03/17/2020 3:45 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)
    Dear ATD-Orange County Learning Community:

    In light of the recent developments and recommendations regarding COVID-19 by the CDC, the ATD-Orange County Chapter will move all our events online effective immediately and lasting until this directive is lifted.

    As Talent Development professionals, we take this opportunity to further explore our ability to use virtual events to build networks, knowledge-share, and build a community of learning. Not only will our regular programs such as our monthly learning events and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) be moved to an online platform, watch your email and our website for weekly webinars, book clubs, and more.

    We look forward your participation in our virtual events, giving ourselves space for personal safety, while enhancing our learning and building community in innovative ways.


    From all of us at ATD-Orange County,  Stay Healthy and Stay Safe!


  • 02/07/2020 3:29 PM | Denise Ross-Admin (Administrator)

    Working Wardrobes Needs our Help

    Local Non-Profit Facility Providing Work Attire and Training to over 105,000 Job Seekers since 1990 Loses Building and Donation Inventory to Fire

    As you may have heard on the news, on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020 at 5:50 a.m., a devastating fire broke out at the Working Wardrobes headquarters located at 1851 Kettering Street, Irvine, California. It was several hours before firefighters could access the building. Everything has been destroyed by this fire. 

    ATD-Orange County is reaching out to our community with a request to assist. Read details of how you can help at https://workingwardrobes.org/rebuild/

  • 01/15/2020 1:05 PM | Paul Venderley (Administrator)

    I wanted to share a few thoughts about why we’re bringing in Rich Hazeltine, a change and performance management consultant formerly from Zappos.com (under Amazon) to ATD-Orange County to discuss talent development’s impact on engagement.

    My experience with employee engagement is two-fold:

    • First, I’m aware of my own engagement within the organization, and develop ways to moderate it.
    • Second, I’ve been increasingly involved in large-scale HR projects to gather data about employee engagement, review the data to identify areas of improvement, and then roll out the programs that will (hopefully) address employee concerns.

    Now, Rich isn’t going to talk about engagement as this big amorphous program that organization leaders promote because they’ve read the same Gallup report on engagement that we have.  While Rich is going to share the results from more than one engagement report, he will also share his experiences that indicate that the Gallup number isn’t that dire, and how he recommends we view employee engagement.

    This is going to be a session that talks about what you can do to promote engagement.  How to step within the purlieus of these big engagement initiatives to connect with the people whom we are meant to engage, and move the needle forward.

    The other reason we elected to bring in Mr. Hazeltine, the guy’s got some serious engagement cred.  He brings with him 25 years in the leadership development and organizational effectiveness space, 8 of those years as part of Zappos.com.  He’s garnered leadership lessons from commanders on naval carriers, and seen engagement in action. As a Vice Commander for the Civil Air Patrol (US Air Force Auxiliary), Nevada Wing Rich organizes over 700 volunteers comprised of more than 300 cadets that serve the community in Emergency Services (Disaster Relief), Aerospace Education, and Cadet Programs.

    Rich has a unique set of experiences exploring leadership and engagement, and I invite you to join us to learn from those experience and apply them at your place of business.

    Learning Event Details:



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