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Wisdom for transformative virtual training | Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP

You KNOW there’s a difference between simply providing information and facilitating true transformation. But what does that take? What creates true change and growth, and how do you get there?

Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP, is a multi-book author, has more certification than you can list on a page, has worked with clients on five continents, and importantly for episode of #ThoughtLeaderConversations, brings her passion for truly transformative virtual training to spend a little time with you.

In this interview, Laurie's wit and charm are disarmingly on point, and along the way you'll learn

  • Why virtual training and presentations is more about skills than tools

  • The importance of adaptability and continuous learning

  • The art and power of story and how to approach it

  • And a whole lot more.

And don't miss the delightful story about the history of the teleprompter, how Laurie came to write a book about mastering the use of a teleprompter, and where the teleprompter should -- and shouldn't -- be in your communications mix today.

Learn more at or shoot her a note to


Series: #ThoughtLeaderConversations   Sponsor: V2, LLC, expert virtual and hybrid event production,   Host: Roger Courville, CSP,   

Keywords:   #virtualtraining #virtualfacilitation #presentationskills


Unedited transcript

[00:00:00] Roger Courville, CSP: You know, there's a difference between simply providing information and facilitating true transformation. But what does that take? What creates true change and growth, and how do you get there?

Well, hello and welcome to Wisdom for Transformative Virtual Training. Glad to be back with you again. My name is Roger Courville, and welcome to another episode of Thought Leader Conversations sponsored by the crew here at Virtual Venues where you can scale your.

Virtual and hybrid event production team with a blue chip crew that will help you achieve excellence in results, help you focus on something other than tech.

But we're not here to talk about us today because with me today is a master of brain-based training and coaching. Laurie Brown, certified speaking professional, certified virtual presenter.

She's a multi-book author, has more certifications than you can list on a page, has worked with clients on, uh, a whole bunch of continents-- five, I think it was --and importantly for you today brings a passion for truly transformative virtual training and is here to spend a little time with us today.

Welcome, Laurie. Glad you're here. Tell us a little more about who you are and what you do.

[00:01:18] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Basically, I help people improve their communication skills, and that takes many, many different paths. It could be coaching, it could be training. I write, uh, it's, my goal though is to have us all be better communicators and I'm still working on it.

So what do they say? Those who know do those who don't teach. So I'm still working on, on all of that. Yeah.

[00:01:46] Roger Courville, CSP: But I, I trust you would agree with this. There is a particular skill in being able to take what you do and put it into a form, which is not only memorable, but actionable with regard to those that you teach.

So, um, I'm not sure if, I don't know. You're right. Those who don't do teach. So here we are,

[00:02:16] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Lori. It's, I, I, you know, I, I guess I'm just saying that being a good communicator does not end, and it doesn't, and it isn't just about knowledge. And, and that's one of the things that I'm really passionate about helping people improve, is that knowledge is everywhere.

There probably is nothing that you would need to know that you couldn't find on the internet or in libraries or through subject matter experts, but that isn't enough. And that's why I've started changing how I think about training in general. That it isn't simply me transferring knowledge to you, which quite frankly, you can do on your own without me.

[00:03:04] Roger Courville, CSP: Right.

You know, I've had the pleasure of, of knowing Lori professionally for a good long time because of our shared our shared background in both National Speakers Association and in, because I know she really knows her stuff when it comes to learning and development. And so today, broadly speaking, we'll stay focused on that on what it means to do this communicating stuff, if not transformatively in the virtual environment.

Lori, here's my opening question for you. Zoom and virtual training is obviously not new to anyone anymore, but what is the most frequent mistake that you see made repeatedly despite the fact that it's not new people are making the same mistakes over and over? What do you see most

[00:03:58] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: slides with? Lots of information that are being read to the participants.

As they read it to themselves, which creates cognitive dissonance it's wrong in about every way. It can be wrong. 'cause it's not engaging, it doesn't even transfer information well. And what it does do is it enables the participant to multitask either by listening and reading at the same time, or even worse, looking at their phone, checking their team's messages or outlook.

Because a lot of people think, well, I can just listen and then do something else at the same time. Mm-hmm. And they'll do it. So that to me is the biggest problem. And that's why I think we hear so much about Zoom fatigue. It's not that zoom is the issue, it's that we're asking people to. Do a cognitive overload.

[00:05:08] Roger Courville, CSP: We're just gonna give you some pause. Yes. Or if you're crass like me, you're gonna go, no, zoom doesn't suck. You suck if, if I'm really being blunt's right. Well, it, we don't look at Microsoft Word and go, man, that's a crappy report. Microsoft Word Sure sucks. No, we think, oh, that's a, that's a poorly written report, and yet we blame Zoom, uh, or the equivalent thereof.

So just outta curiosity, I know you both, I, I know one of the things that I believe was part of your own path was not just adding virtual to your bag of tricks, but even going to the point of emphasizing that, am I remembering correctly, part of your story?

[00:06:02] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: I'm not sure what you mean, but I had done virtual work probably for 20 some years.

We used to use satellites and it was in a big studio and we had overhead projectors and we had slides and it was really interactive and it was amazing. And then when it got too expensive to have all the bells and whistles, but it was still too soon to have enough bandwidth, then we were kind of in a gray area.

Then Adobe Connect happened and we could do wonderful things with that. And then bandwidth and zoom and processes like Ecamm came along and we could do so much more now. But I'm not sure that's what you were asking.

[00:06:47] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, it, and this goes back a long way, so maybe I'm misremembering, but I think, I thought I remembered at one point you just saying, I don't mind minimizing travel in my life right now.


[00:06:58] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: So, yes, uh, COVID happened, which was the best gift in the world for me. And when it first happened, I said, what can I do? And because I had done virtual, I, I was comfortable with it. I had done Adobe Connect, and so I offered my clients a free class on communication skills done virtually. And I had one client who said, Nope, don't want that.

What do you mean you don't want that? No, I want it on how to do virtual training. And I, no, I don't. I don't wanna do that. No, that's what we want. I said, okay. And I had been certified in training from the back of the room, which is Sharon Bowman's work. If you don't know it, go look it up. There's nothing that changed me more than that.

Workshop and being certified there. So I went to where all of the certified trainers were to see if anybody was doing anything innovative with training. And as it turned out, there were a group of international trainers who were getting together to do the virtual edition of training from the back of the room.

So I got to work with some of the best minds across the world, literally. And we rewrote that session for virtual. And in doing that, it totally transformed how I do virtual all for the better. So it was a gift to have a stubborn client. That's wonderful. But yes, all my work now is virtual,

[00:08:30] Roger Courville, CSP: all of it. 100%.

I, you know, I say that on behalf of our clients because most of the time people I, I find still are in the well virtual's. Great. Then there's a but implicitly or explicitly, but I'd rather be there in person. And I think we see that showing up in other kinds of, of workplace statistics with regard to employers struggling with employees who are like, "no, we're kind of digging this remote work thing. We, we don't wanna come back to the office."

And I think it's useful for us to go, okay, of course there is a time when there are things that you can only do in person. There's something that is unique there, whether it's work or learning or that kind of thing. I'm not

[00:09:24] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: sure. I'm not sure and I, no.

So continue for my clients when they want in-person I send trainers, I am not sure that I can't recreate the experiences virtually that happen when you are in person. I. I may be prejudiced about that, but I think at least for the work I do, I have been able to replicate every single activity that I would do in person, have it being, have it virtual everyone.

[00:10:02] Roger Courville, CSP: No argument. Yeah, no argument there. I in fact, I even designed a An exercise for an in-person training about virtual training, very large shipping company who you would know. And I'm working with all their instructional designers and I, so just to be purposeful about being a pain in their backside.

I had 'em do one of those typical in-person activities where, okay, everybody stand up and line yourself up against the wall by order of birth date from January one to December 31st and block count off. And I did, I had to do a bunch of things, go pick up all your stuff and go back to the tables, you know, call all the ones over here and the twos over here.

And they're all like, what the heck are we doing? And I'm like, we get to the end of that. And I say, okay, now make that virtual. And of course you could hear a pin drop and then they figured out, and I, this is my long-winded way of supporting you. Then they figured out, ah, if we back, go back to going what I.

Is the learning objective of any Guinea given exercise. We might have a different, slightly different path for how we get to that learning objective. But transforming this in-person thing to an online thing may not look exactly the same, which of course is true when you change any medium of communication from writing in word to producing a movie.

Anyway, it was just, this was my, one of my favorite stories of screwing with a bunch of people who thought, yeah, there's, you can't, you can't do that online.

[00:11:32] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: And the thing that has been transformative for me is using mural year old. Tell

[00:11:37] Roger Courville, CSP: me more. I know you brought that up. One. Go for it. Mural

[00:11:40] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: is so amazing.

It's a whiteboard. And what I can do with that whiteboard is everything that I do in person. So if I have manipulables that I want people to move around in real time in, like if we were doing it in person and they have them in their hands, I can recreate that online. They still move them. It's still physical.

I can, I can have them draw, I can have them write, I have them collaborate. It's, they can watch a movie from that and then comment on it. It's all there. And,

okay, so now I'm, I'm arguing with myself. I've had classes where people build things, uh, with real objects. And so the way that I would do that is to build things with shapes. So with that would be different. I'm not gonna be using tape and. Rubber cement and all those things, but Well, yeah, but that's fair.

But it's a learning outcome is your point. And so we have to think what's our learning outcome and how do we, how do we achieve that?

[00:12:52] Roger Courville, CSP: Right? So let's maybe start at the beginning with a hypothetical client phone call. Somebody calls you and goes, Lori okay, we get it up here. We get it intellectually, but you know, our company's not there.

We still just have way too many Zoom meetings and everybody talks over PowerPoint and how do I change my team in a culture that really is resistant to doing things any differently?

[00:13:23] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: And it's really one person at a time. So I get a lot I teach presentation skills and I do a lot with highly technical people, and so they live and die on these.

Inci slides. So how do we change that? Well, once we help them understand that a slide should be easy, that somebody should understand a slide in a minute or two minutes, that's really gonna help a lot. Once somebody sees that and says, wait a minute, how'd you do that? Then we start building culture change.

But oftentimes I'm brought in with a group in a, in a company, and then once they see that it actually works, then we build out from there and they say, oh, yeah, can, can you work with this team instead?

[00:14:18] Roger Courville, CSP: Okay, so, so I'll just continue the, uh, the thought. You've just completed that training and I'm one of those people that just went through your training and bought into what you were teaching me.

I'm sold, but for whatever reason, they come up with a but and say, but my boss wants it all in PowerPoint.

[00:14:41] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Right? And and they do, right? Yes, they do. And so you can say, so what can we do to still use PowerPoint but make it easy for the audience? My whole goal with customer service or communication, uh, presentation skills is how do we make it easy for the recipient, not for the person who's giving it, but for the recipient.

And so if I have a slide that has to have a ton of information on it because my client, my boss, that's what they want, how can we build that slide so that. We don't have them getting ahead of us or missing our point. And there's some easy things you can do with that that would still meet the needs of your boss or your client, but will also be a better way to present the information.

And that I, I work with that a lot. Right? So this is how we do things. This is our deck and sure. Let's, let's add a build. Let's take some words out. Let's understand how the brain takes information and make it easier for the brain. Yeah.

[00:15:59] Roger Courville, CSP: Just outta curiosity, do you have any particular favorite question that you get when you're in the middle of, of a training session?

[00:16:10] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Oh boy. I'm not sure because they're all different. I don't know if I have a favorite one. What I love, I. And so my training is so much less about me and so much more about the group. What I love is when I see the ahas and when I see that people have connected what they already know to this new way of looking at something.

Then they discuss it and make it their own. But I can't think of questions offhand. That thrill.

[00:16:47] Roger Courville, CSP: No that's fair. We're just having a conversation that just came to mind. Yeah. But you know, one of the things that I do appreciate about you and well, and the messaging on your website and even the kind of, the basis for thinking about our conversation today is that, that word transformation, is there an essential set of characteristics that are part of the transformation that you're talking about when I'm, when information is important but insufficient to get to the transformation.

What are the essential elements of transformation?

[00:17:23] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Well, there's gonna be two parts. There's the part where they're with me and that's I. Having them understand that they really know far more than they think they know. And it's just putting it into different context or facilitating an exercise where they realize that they already know it.

So that's that's there. But how do we keep that alive? And that only comes from practice. And so when I do presentation skills, there's gonna be a cohort of people who all know how to coach each other, who know the language and can use it to help each other. 'cause that's part of how I train, which is I help the participants coach each other so they don't need me making me redundant.

And that works well for presentation skills. Customer service is a little different because then we need the leadership to catch them doing the right thing. And I've, I've often said to people, don't hire me for customer service training if you're not gonna do any follow-up work. If you're not going to train your leaders to catch them and reward them and acknowledge them, don't, don't hire me because you will waste your money.

So it does mean repetition, and it does mean having other people comment on what you're doing because I don't think we're always good at being able to see our own strengths or the things that we need to improve.

[00:19:06] Roger Courville, CSP: And when you do that, just outta curiosity, is that typically then a primary training session and then a series of follow-ups?

[00:19:17] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: We can do that. What I love, quite frankly, is when the leaders take over that part, and I have some, with some groups, I've created monthly huddle scripts and help leaders be able to give positive reinforcement, which I think is so much more important than anything that's critical.

I, I'm not big on that. I, I think when we know what we're doing well, it gets acknowledged, it blossoms, and we need more of that than, here's what you did wrong. Here's what you did. Right. How do we build on that?

[00:20:04] Roger Courville, CSP: I love that because really you're speaking to a. A level of cultural transformation.

Mm-hmm. Within, and I, one of the reasons that I'm just got goosebumps just listening to how you're approaching that too, is because to me, if, and I would be curious to know if you agree, because this is not my area of specialty, just me thinking out loud. But to me, if there is one of the things that we can do to improve a culture of belonging or inclusiveness or people feeling like they are valued for their diversity rather than you know, feeling like an outsider because of their diversity, going to somebody else and asking for their input seems like a just one of the more powerful things you could do for creating that.

Or transforming that culture. Am I too far off base? I think

[00:21:00] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: just, absolutely. And I also think we have to think about safety. When our brain feels threatened, we're gonna retreat. And criticism in general makes us retreat because we feel like we're gonna lose our job or our status. When we catch people doing it, well then we start feeling safer.

But that doesn't, and I'm gonna get into a whole other thing that I have to get this off my chest. Some people, have you heard about the feedback sandwich? Mm-hmm.

[00:21:40] Roger Courville, CSP: I, it's like, uh, one of the defacto standards in Toastmasters. Right.

[00:21:44] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Say something nice, say something critical, say something nice. What people leave with is either, oh, I did really well, or they hear blah, blah, bam, blah, blah.

So neither of those are gonna help transform behavior. If I'm gonna give you feedback, I'm gonna give you feedback that is constructive, not critical, and I'm going to give it to you because I value you as an employee, as a person, and I want you to grow because as you grow, the company grows. Everybody's good.

I think we're afraid of helping people improve in a constructive way. 'cause it sounds like a,

[00:22:38] Roger Courville, CSP: which, yeah. No, tell me more. Go a little deeper on

[00:22:41] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: that. I, I, but I, but it's also how I train, right? We, I. We create a safe environment, whether I'm coaching or training. The environment is safe, the feedback is honest and it's specific.

However, what studies have shown, and this was even 10 years ago, I think it's probably even more so now, 10 positive statements to every one constructive statement. That's what we need as human beings, and I don't think we're getting that much in the workplace.

How do

[00:23:20] Roger Courville, CSP: you think remote work has affected that?

[00:23:25] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: I think everybody is losing their minds. It's, we've done business a certain way for decades and decades and decades, and that meant that as a leader, I was there. I could see that you were doing your work. And so now, oh my goodness, I have a remote workforce.

How can I be sure they're getting their work done? It's the same thing. I mean, we don't wanna micromanage our workforce, we, but there are ways of communicating so that we know where somebody is in their work, but they get to do it in their timeframes unless it's a time urgent thing. I think all the studies have shown, at least the ones I've read, that people have become more productive when they're in their own environment.

They don't have people walking in on them. They don't have the hour commute there and back, et cetera, et cetera. Yeah, I'm a, I'm a big fan of that. I think the thing I'm, now, I'm gonna go off in my soapbox. I think the thing that's the biggest problem with remote workforce is that people have paid a lot of money for real estate.

And we have to somehow justify that money that we've spent building this new office building or this new office for us. And so we need you to come in because we're paying money for it. Yeah. Not because you're gonna be more effective, but because there's money being spent on something.

[00:25:02] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, let me corroborate that in a couple ways.

One, I started this industry in 1999, right? So this October's gonna be 24 years in the conferencing, webinars, blah, blah, blah space. And way back then we didn't know what the heck we were doing. And one of the early targets was higher ed going, "Hey, this is, this could be, could be revolutionary."

Interestingly, they were a slow adopter and it took us a while to figure out, oh, it's 'cause they have such a vested interest in brick and mortar. Yeah. Later the company that's co-founded when I left Microsoft we were, we would drive, go in and do implementation and drive a big adoption projects for large companies implementing this kind of stuff for the first time.

And interestingly, it came down to leadership willingness to change how they lead and manage. And you're right, they're sort of vested interest in doing things the way I've always done it. 'cause that's what I know and that's what I'm comfortable, that's what got me to hear. I'm the vp, right? I must know everything.

So it was it's interesting to see how that has evolved. I'm curious to kind of go back to the kind of the opening mistake you talked about slides and lots of words and doing way too much of the talking and not enough of the listening in a virtual training environment, I. I also learned recently that you met the co-inventor of the teleprompter.

So I'm just curious, given there are so much using Zoom as a teleprompter, tell us the story of inventing the co meeting, the co-inventor of the teleprompter.

[00:26:46] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: So I was gonna write this book on teleprompter. I had my career started out as an actor. I was a professional actor. I used the teleprompter all the time.

And as I was becoming a speaker, and that's been 30 some years ago now, I realized that speakers were using it too. And I thought, oh, it'd be great to have a book on this. And so I found photos that I wanted to use that were historical photos, and I think it was in Purdue University. And I wrote them for permission to use the photo.

And they said, well, you could just ask Mr. Shaley. And I went, he's still alive like he was. So I. Got the chance to actually go meet him in person. He is one of the most remarkable men I've ever met. Brilliant, brilliant guy. Uh, the teleprompter was actually created because of soap operas. They needed something to be able to do their lines, and it worked well.

And they used to have these huge typewriters, really big typewriters, and they'd type away into the night and the keys would fly off. They'd be projectiles and be horrible. But he, that's my favorite part of the book, is his telling the history and how it got into politics and became ubiquitous. Now, I mean, the teleprompters are so available.

I use big view. I'm a big, big view fan when I'm doing content that I need to have the words exactly right.

But it doesn't work for training.

[00:28:24] Roger Courville, CSP: Do you think the motivation by somebody who ends up reading their slides is that desire to get it right?

[00:28:33] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Oh, absolutely. And there are, there are people I work with that have a legal responsibility duty Yes. To get it exactly right. But there's ways of doing that without reading it verbatim.

I mean, and so again, that's the difference of presenting or teaching. So for presenting, sometimes you have to have the words that have been approved by the legal department said in the right way. That's a, that's a different situation. But for training, I can't imagine a situation I. That you absolutely need to read something verbatim, and if you do, it doesn't have to be on the slide, right.

There's ways of doing it. But for training, again, my feeling is let's have the audience do most of the talking. I, I like sort of the lazy facilitator method, which is they do all the work.

[00:29:39] Roger Courville, CSP: I'll put an exclamation point behind something that you just said because I think it's a really important distinction that you just illuminated. And I want to give you the credit here, pointing out the difference between, say, presenting and we'll use the term teaching, training, facilitating, right.

Kinda lump those all together. The difference being when I'm delivering and I need to deliver it in a particular way versus when I'm facilitating or connect, helping them draw out of them. In fact, I, I'm a big fan of remembering that the word educate comes from the Latin meaning to lead or draw out.

It doesn't mean pound more crap in. But you just made a killer, killer

[00:30:25] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: facilitating. I wanna, I wanna get back into words. Doesn't facilitate mean making it facile easy?

[00:30:32] Roger Courville, CSP: Ooh, yes. Bingo.

[00:30:37] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: I might, I could be wrong on that, but I always think of it as trying to make it as easy as possible. I see. Yes. And that doesn't mean hammering at them

[00:30:48] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, and you said something earlier and you know, if someone has a level of facility with learning and development, they'll recognize that you have.

Hinted at or touched on a whole bunch of things that could be deep unto themselves, like words like cognitive dissonance. Whoa. There's a whole pile of research under that, under that one right there. But one of the, you know, one of the core adult learning principles is that we know what we know. We bring our own presuppositions and experiences to the table.

And what your job as a facilitator is, is to, to help 'em tap into what they already have. And you already, you, you just described that a little earlier as, um, you know, when you were talking about what, how you approach the context of, of, of thinking transformatively.

[00:31:37] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: And I like the idea of tapping into what they already know so that they can build a new pathway to something new, but that have it connected to what they already know.

That's, that to me is just glorious. Because then it's sticky. That's what we want. We want it to be sticky. It's, my classes are fun. They absolutely are fun. People are laughing, they're enjoying themselves. That isn't enough. Right? I want them to make those connections and have those pathways stay there so that they can use it in the future.

[00:32:15] Roger Courville, CSP: There is one kind of in between that I ran into that kind of changed how I thought that presenting versus facilitating. Mm-hmm. Um, not only a time to put all of the words on the slide, but a time maybe even to read them verbatim. And it was in a, in the context of an organization I worked with, with that was doing.

Training around the legal requirements with regard to like building scaffolding, like, you know, those, the scaffolds go upside. And so they, they had to have the exact legal language, I mean, at Exactly. So they would read it. And so we spent some time going, okay, here's how and when to read exactly what's on the slide and then stop reading what's on the slide and put putting that in its own specific context.

But I think, um, even then my argument would be, don't put it on the fricking slide, put it on the handout or something that they're gonna, they, there you go. Refer to

[00:33:24] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: questions gonna be, yes, I understand that this is essential and it legal has gone over to, it needs to be verbatim. Let's make it again, I'm gonna keep using this word easy.

For the people to be able to retrieve that information when they need it. I mean, I'm not gonna be building scaffolding while I'm watching this program. How do you give me that information so that when I do need it, I mean, I need to know it exists. I might even need to hear it, but then where can I get it later?

I, there's something I, I learned that I love, which is the need to know, nice to know where to go. And for every slide you should know what the audience absolutely needs to know. They should not leave without that. When you have a little extra time, what would be nice for them to know? What's the, uh, play by play?

What's the color commentary? How can we add to that? And then where can they go to get this information if they need it later on? I'm

[00:34:36] Roger Courville, CSP: gonna give you citation credit on that. That is a killer. Triplett need to know, nice to know where to go. And it's not my, my wish I'd thought of that myself a long time ago.

That's brilliant.

[00:34:48] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Uh, that's Sharon Bauman. That's where I learned it from. But it's okay. It changes everything. The other thing, so I'm just gonna give you a little presentation tip or it's also a facilitation tip. I use it like an accordion. So for everything that I'm doing, I have a set amount of time I've put aside for that.

And so I go in the need to know and the nice to knows. But if you know my participants are talking more or they're, something has gotten us off and my timing isn't right, then I go into just the need to knows. I take away the nice to knows and they give them what they want. And so you can, you never have to be short or long when you use this.

It's an accordion. And even if you're presenting to a group of people who 10 minutes before you start presenting, say to you, I know we had 20 minutes for you, you've got five. Right? Well, you, you can still do that. 'cause you've got the accordion. Yeah.

[00:35:49] Roger Courville, CSP: Well I've taught the same concepts. I've just never had that killer little triplett.

And now I'm just gonna give Lori Brown all of the credit right there. But you're right. And let me, even another double exclamation point, I'm gonna put this one in all caps for the sake of emphasis. That scenario that you just described comes around in one of two ways. One, you thought you had 20 minutes and now you got five.

Mm-hmm. Or you planned on 20 minutes, but that was when you were thinking about doing all of the talking. And now the minute somebody asks a question or there's some, uh, something that happens in the room there, there sucks up some of your time. And the challenge with that is that what gets squeezed is always the most powerful part of your pre presentation or facilitation, which is the end instead, right?

I mean, you gotta, you gotta get the plane off the ground. But arguably the conclusion of the presentation, whether that's the call to action or, or something like that, is one of the most, if not the most powerful part of, of what you need to do. And all of that gets squeezed if, if your time gets sucked outta the air.


[00:37:06] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: And, and I also think the best presentations, like the best facilitations are interactive. And, and that's true. If you're presenting to the C-suite, they give you 20 minutes present for five. Let them ask questions. You can build that so that you aren't squeezed at the end. By letting them have the power of questions, it's going to be more memorable 'cause it's going to be more focused on what they need, not what you thought they needed.

[00:37:44] Roger Courville, CSP: Another thing I love about your little triplet,

[00:37:47] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: it's really cool,

[00:37:48] Roger Courville, CSP: isn't it? It presumes well, it, it, it, it solves a problem that, that, that everybody has and they don't realize they have, which is, I think you're gonna remember every damn thing I say. Which you never will, right? And I've often said to trainers, uh, you're in the motivation business.

What? No, we're in there. We're in the knowledge business. I'm like, no, you're in the motivation business because you need them to not just know where to go but want to go, want to go there. And unless you think you're going to, they're gonna remember every single thing. At very least, they're, that's why they ask for your slides, because they're not gonna remember, remember everything.

[00:38:33] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Something I learned from somebody else that I thought was brilliant and why facilitation is so important is that nobody argues with their own data. So when you let them explain what they know, they're not gonna fight you for it. They're, they, they believe you because it agrees with what they think, but they've said it, so I.

That makes it more memorable. Also, it's funny that you say that because I, I have always thought that education, just, if I'm thinking of lower school, middle school, um, high school, the job is not to teach them stuff. The job is to make them curious and help them find what they need to know. I think curiosity is so much more important than any particular topic that somebody might teach you when you are at school.

[00:39:34] Roger Courville, CSP: I'm curious, have you seen that as a difference in generational, in generations in terms of how they approach coming to your classroom? Here's my presupposition. Uh, and, and I'll just very broadly call it digital natives versus digital, you know, digital immigrants. One of the challenges I've observed sometimes are those who think I'm sitting in the training because you're gonna teach me what I need to know before I can go even start doing it, as opposed to what is I've commonly observed with digital immigrants, which is like, I don't know, we'll just go figure it out.

Start pushing buttons you can always undo. Yeah.

[00:40:20] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: And I love that. That to me is very exciting when people say, let me try to figure it out. That's awesome. I

[00:40:30] Roger Courville, CSP: don't know how you survive in today's world without that. Right? I mean, how many, you know,

[00:40:35] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: we've always done it this way and it's worked and, and they don't grow.

And, and I often say I've never been hired by a company that's needed me. I'm always hired by groups of people who are already doing a great job. They just wanna polish their skills. And I think starting off a session, not that I am now the the know-all on this and I will now impart this information to you.

It's, you know, this stuff, let's share that with each other and let's polish what you know. And then I sneak in things. But they're far more accepting if I sneak something in, if I've heard them first. So here's another, if you like threes three before me. So if somebody asks a question in a facilitated class, I won't answer it.

I might say, what do y'all think? I. Then get their opinions in, then I can do it again. It increases buy-in because I never want the pushback of, you don't know what it's like to do my job. 'cause I don't, and again, I've worked with people all over the world doing work that I would never be able to do. I am not an expert there.

My expertise is helping you know what you already know and getting you to share that. So when I let them speak from their expertise, I don't get that pushback.

[00:42:18] Roger Courville, CSP: What do you do with, with groups where their primary challenge is presenting to senior executives?

[00:42:30] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: I've been thinking so much about this lately. It's so different. And one of the things I was coaching this woman, brilliant, brilliant woman, and had that same problem you talked about, which is the boss wants it this way even though that won't help the boss.

And so it's how can we nuance it to give them what they think they want, but in a way that's more digestible. So I work a lot with highly technical people. Brilliant, brilliant people. And I do an activity called Tech Talk Translation. And part of that is, so we have senior execs and you're presenting highly technical information that they are not a, a subject matter expert on, well, you never wanna dumb it down.

That's horrible. Right? And,

[00:43:26] Roger Courville, CSP: and that's their fear. Well, wait a minute. All those details are important.

[00:43:32] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: You can't dumb it down. And you still have to get them to understand the point. So even with you're presenting to the C-suite, you need to use metaphors, analogy stories. So the person goes, oh yeah, I get that.

We want them to feel smart. And sometimes it means not giving them what they think they want. Because what I hear a lot, 'cause I work both with the senior execs and with the people presenting to them, is I want my, I just want it all on one page. You know that, that executive summary. And so then why do you even need me there?

And, and so then the presentation has to be different, which is not to present that executive summary that they've already looked at, but to give an overall picture, tell a story, use the metaphors, and then see what questions they have. So again, it's letting them lead the presentation. You not pushing the presentation.

[00:44:42] Roger Courville, CSP: Lori, what's the Hawthorne effect?

[00:44:46] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Hawthorne effect. You're gonna ask me about the Hawthorne Effect. Isn't that interesting?

And I've been thinking a lot about how what we do impacts what we see, right? It's, it's what, what was it? Is it the butterfly effect? Is that the thing? That something changes, but I, I'm getting my metaphors mixed up with the butterfly. But if I have this correct, and it's been a while since I wrote that article, so you're gonna forgive me.

Uh, we have to be careful as a leader that we are not impacting what we observe. And that's gonna be the best I'm gonna give you right now on that.

[00:45:35] Roger Courville, CSP: But the good news is if you go to Laurie, l a u r i, you can find, you can find the blog post that she wrote about that. And as a guy that says, got 500 blog posts on my own, um, I don't remember every dang statistic right off the top of my head that I, that I ever wrote about or

[00:45:57] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: that was really interesting.

I had read about it. Um, and it was, I sometimes I read about things and I just feel like I have to write about them. 'cause they're really interesting to me at the time.

[00:46:10] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, that's, that's probably even a lesson for not just you and me, but but even someone here who might be listening. Right. We frequently.

Have things like that that come into our sphere of awareness based on something that we're working on at a particular point in time. But it doesn't necessarily mean we remember it like we were the PhD who spent right, six years studying it and, and, and, you know, writing a 300 page dissertation on it.

And the good news is, I think we better, uh, more now than ever, we live in a world where we can draw upon source, find and draw upon sources that are relevant, um, kind of on the fly. I think that's, uh, I'm trying to, to, to give you some, some space and some credit because I do the same thing. It's like, oh yeah, it's like, for instance, one at one point I decided I was gonna read all of the primary research on PowerPoint and, um, there was even a time when there was a website.

Uh, hosted by the University of Washington, that, that kept track of all of the primary research on fonts and blah, blah, blah. You know, and I, you know, after a period of time you start saying, oh yeah, here's the best practice, and you know where it came from. But at some point I'm like, I don't remember what study that was from.

And was that 2005 or was it 2000? I don't remember. So you're off the hook

[00:47:52] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: because it's about, we, we modify our behavior when someone's observing us. That, that's the basics of it. It's, I, I think a lot about leadership though, and something else I've been reading about is this idea of assuming the best in a situation instead of going to.

What the worst case scenario is. And I, I, that's, that's something that I've, I'm thinking a lot about from leaders' points of view, is that we deal with people whose behaviors may not be what we want, and then we jump to a conclusion, make some assumptions, instead of assuming that there is a real good reason for something.

So that's the latest thing that my brain has been focusing on. They, it moves around a lot.

[00:48:48] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah, it does. Well, and you know, over, well even just take your book titles, right? You get a book on service, you get a book on teleprompters. What's the, what's the next project you're working on? What's, what's the latest point of fascination?

[00:49:03] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: It's, it's about, Communication for technical people, and it's about how to be clear, concise, complete, compassionate. Correct. When we are communicating, whether it's in writing or whether it's in, in just a, a, a call with somebody, I, that's, I'm playing with it. I don't know if it's, what happens is I write a white paper and then the white paper becomes a book, and right now it's in the white paper.

Um, I have a couple of other white papers that I've written about technical presentations, but not just about technical communication. So who knows what that's gonna grow up

[00:49:44] Roger Courville, CSP: to be? If there is a final tip or two that you would have for someone who is in that really technical communication space, what would that

[00:49:56] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: be?

I, I think that point of never dumb down your information, elevate the audience's understanding of it. When we can do that and make it easy for them and make them feel smart. That's, that to me is the bottom line. Laurie,

[00:50:16] Roger Courville, CSP: are there any questions I should have asked you that I haven't?

[00:50:22] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: I don't know. I think there's like 20 questions I wish I had asked you. So let me, can I ask you a question? Sure. If you want to. What, what do you think makes your virtual work so effective? What's the tip that you would give?

[00:50:41] Roger Courville, CSP: You know, let me give you a little context, because I was really early entrant in this space.

I developed a way of doing things and built a clientele and all of that long before words like v I l T were even coined. And if you're listening, that would be virtual instructor led training, which is the kind of, you know, training facilitation stuff that Lori's been talking about and his master at.

And consequently, I, even though I had this weird juxtaposition of most of my clientele being in the learning and development crew, to end up ended up two thirds of my work ended up being learning and development. But early on it was really, I was really teaching presentation skills adapted to a new environment.

So rather than going into a virtual classroom with things like mural or breakout rooms or those kinds of things where we truly could think a lot more like a facilitator, it was really more about an adapted presentation skills kind of, uh, approach. If there was one thing that, for me, Defined that right up front.

It was my willingness to talk with people instead of at them right up front. And people would say to me, you know, 'cause I've been interviewed on a thousand podcasts and whatever, and people go, what's your one tip? I'm like, open, open your at a Glance tools. And they're like, uh, what the hell are my at a Glance tools?

I'm like, those things that help you keep an eye on your audience, but you can't see your audience. Well dang, no you can't. But you can certainly open up the chat box. So when Lori types something in, I can go, oh, Julie says, oh, and PIP makes a good comment. And, you know, and, and I got used to doing that with particularly sizable audiences and that was just so different than the talk at you kind of thing.

Um, that was probably the defining characteristic. It's. It almost seems old school now because I had to develop into facilitation, um, in probably a way that people with a learning and development background were ahead of me on, um, because I was really trying to marry learning and development with presentation skills at the time.

[00:53:14] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Except that isn't that It's the, it's the interaction. It's the conversation. It's what you're doing here that I think you're so masterful at is having a conversation. That's all a presentation is. That's all a facilitation is. It's a conversation.

[00:53:29] Roger Courville, CSP: Yeah. That's a great point.

[00:53:32] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: So maybe you were way ahead. Way ahead.

Even when you're saying that there were people who may have been more way ahead in learning to develop it, I think you were ahead in it all.

[00:53:44] Roger Courville, CSP: You know, I'm enough of a freak that I read, and I, I don't remember if I mentioned this to you, but I'm, I'm about halfway through my doctorate, so I, I read a lot, but when I first started in this business, I started buying books on how to do seminars because mm-hmm.

I, there were no books in this play in this space. And I'd read a book and I'd get a book, and I bought almost all of them that existed. And of course, two thirds of the book was talk about, you know, how to set up tables and chairs and stand at the podium and, and, you know, which means most of it was useless.

But one of those things that I recall is going, you know, we have to attack a different medium long before I knew the academic reasons for, for what's going on in the brain and how people connect and communicate, right? Trans, uh, the medium theory of communication and transmission theory of communication, et cetera.

Um, I realized, We can't just do what we've done in one medium, in a new medium, or we end up defaulting to the lowest common denominator, which is talking over PowerPoint. And oftentimes I've said to, to rooms full of people, I'm like, all right, let's take the best of human connectedness from in-person to online now.

What is, what defines the best of human connectedness in our room right here? Me talking over PowerPoint and everybody laughs and I'm like, well then why the F? Do we do that when it comes to to virtual? It's because that's all we've seen and we largely haven't seen it modeled in any other way.

[00:55:28] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: Just to take on that, one of the things I have to do when people come to me and say, I need it in person, is to find out why.

And some of that is 'cause they, they're bringing people in. It's a big part of a big event that, that makes perfect sense. But if it's because I never have experienced virtual that's anything other than someone reading PowerPoint to me, then I just demo because there's no way to even imagine it. Right.

If you've never seen it.

[00:56:06] Roger Courville, CSP: I think that's been one of the challenges in learning and development, uh, in general because the defining expect, the, the expectations have been defined around a defining experience that had been driven outta marketing webinars, which has been largely one way info barf talk at you kinds of experiences and the best things that I've seen done.

Anywhere are all done in private contexts. And by the way, they'd make, it'd be kind of hard to take that and put it all in a recording anyway, because, you know, you wouldn't, you wouldn't, uh, necessarily be able to go into each and every breakout room and see what's going on. And that doesn't take you into the middle of the instructional design process to, to get into how did this all come about to begin with.

Consequently, all that, all the best learning and development stuff, I think, um, is often still, um, hidden from hidden from view. So we repeat, people keep repeating what they, what they see and they know. Sure. I mean,

[00:57:14] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: that's just human nature. Yeah. What innovative thing I, now I have, what new innovative thing are you using to make sure your messages stick?

[00:57:30] Roger Courville, CSP: I actually have been, I don't know if I would call it new and innovative, but do something similar to what you described, which is how do I get them giving each other feedback? So teaching presentation skills, I'll, the, the one thing I'll add to that is that when I would go into a client, um, and the goal was among other things, power, you know, include PowerPoint design.

I would ask, I ask for first permission, but I ask for copies of their slides. And then we do like, um, I don't do a before and after makeover. What I do is I give them a, I'll give 'em a set of principles and it kind of unfolds progressively over the course of the morning. But by the time we get to the end of the day, it's, we're doing a full on teachback.

But when we break them into groups, the, you know, part of that personal get feedback from your peers is quite literally going, okay, your friend just came to you going, Hey, I got a big quarterly business report to do. Here's my slides. What do you think? Right. And each group would get a slide and, you know, make, and I wouldn't have them do the makeover.

I would have them act like the advisor going, okay, hey, here's what I like, here's what we could, what we could grow on. But it's in that peer, in that peer feedback where the principles aren't hard. The question is just how do, how do we apply that critically when we go, ah, the VP just put all that stuff on the slide.

Yeah. Can we move some to the appendix, the where to go? Or, you know, anyway, so that, so I'm sure that's innovative. I think is just, sounds like we've both landed in a similar

[00:59:24] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: place. I, I'll actually have them redo it real time with everybody's comments. And it's fun because that gets the people who like to get their hands in.

I know. And so I'm going to have one other, I know it has been debunked. I've read everything about it being debunked about the learning styles, and yet I know it's not true. It's one of those things we hold onto, even though everything is debunked them, I would still argue if I asked you to put together a bicycle, uh, for a kid's birthday party the next day, would you want me reading you the instructions?

Right? Probably not. Would you wanna look at the instructions yourself or look at the picture? Maybe. Would you like to just get in and start doing it? Or would you like to put all the parts out, make sure nothing's missing, read the instructions, then go back over it. Right. So those are learning styles.

That's the kinesthetic, that's the auditory. I mean, it's, and so I know it's not true, but what do you think about that? How about that for a whiny?

[01:00:35] Roger Courville, CSP: Well, you know, to me, I, I, I agree. I mean, I, I think one of the reasons that it persists is because it just seems to make so much sense at some kind of intuitive level, which is probably not unlike the Arabian myth, which we could also, which you could also get into.

Right. Um, I actually wrote a note to Neil Fleming who wrote the original book on how do I learn best? You know, the varc, you know, visual, auditory read, write kinesthetic, and bought one of his books that he shipped me from New Zealand. Um, I was a lot of years ago. To me, if think if there is something, a, a level of nuance that's missing in the conversation.

It's not, it's how do we take, what to me is really obvious. Like if you're going to assemble that bicycle, there is some part of that learning that happens when you just freaking assemble the bicycle right In, in a kinesthetic sort of way, whatever that is. What I don't know, and I've honestly been outta touch with it, is what is, where does that touch down with the empirical research with regard to, and I don't think it's gotta be a binary, bifurcated, they're completely irrelevant or they, they're the cat meow answer.

Right. And I, um, I'm kind of wondering 'cause it's been a while since I've thought about that. But you're right. I come

[01:02:09] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: to a place of you just need it all right. You, you need a little bit of all of that when you're trying to have people learn something new and have it sticky. But it's, it's just one of those things.

It's just so interesting. 'cause I, it sticks in my head. I know every bit of research says it's not true. Right. So I also, so I use it all and just see,

[01:02:37] Roger Courville, CSP: well, you know, I, I mean, I, I love science and data, but I think there are a lot of things where there is a level of mystery that we just haven't tapped into yet.

What is the sum total of that learning experience in terms of attention, cognition, retention, and the nature of visual, auditory, ReadWrite, kinesthetic, and how it all works together. And can we boil it down and put it on a PowerPoint slide? I don't know.

[01:03:08] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: I just know that good training has all of that.

[01:03:12] Roger Courville, CSP: Yes, no argument.

A and at very least, presenter, trainer, facilitator, whatever pair of shoes you happen to find yourself in, you're likely better off if you pause before you finish putting it all together and think about how am I including something that touches on, or draws out or speaks to people that, that who's, uh, handed this so to speak, might be more right-handed, left-handed, visual, auditory, whatever that that can't help but, but help you as you're thinking through.


Lori, I'm so excited that you spent a little time thinking about, um, you know, spending some time with us. What's the best way to get in touch with you?

[01:04:07] Laurie Brown, CSP, CVP: You can go to my website, lori You can email me very easily, And, and what I love, and I think this is because now of my age, I, I, I can do more of this.

I would love to hear from you if you don't wanna hire, but you just have some questions. You, how can, how can you make this come alive? Uh, and I am more than happy to provide what I know to you. Um, if you're calling me without it having to be a transactional issue, I, I learn more by teaching than I ever do by any other method.

So I would love to hear from folks. I tell me I'm wrong. Tell me, uh, Tell me how, how you might or ask me how you can put this into place in, in your practice. And I would be delighted. Delighted to do that.

[01:05:08] Roger Courville, CSP: I love that. Um, I love that heart, Lori. I do the same thing. I'm like, Hey, call me if, if it's right, it's right.

If it's not, I'll help you. Um, you know? Right. I'll help you in any kind anyway. Well, again, thank you to Laurie Brown, l a u r i e, laurie, and, uh, what a pleasurable. And, um, I just got a big old smile on my face. And if you're listening to the podcast, you may not be able to tell, but, um, what a, what a pleasurable conversation.

Again, thank you to our sponsor, virtual venues where you can instantly scale your virtual and hybrid event production team. Thanks again to Laurie Brown. We'll catch you on the next episode of Thought Leader Conversations.


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