Sunday, June 18, 2017

How to Be a Kung Fu Webinar and Virtual Trainer Master - Tip #137

In last week’s tip, I shared my initial life-changing journey. I also started asking myself, “What skills must I possess to be a Masterful Virtual Trainer?

What does it take to hear your webinar attendees sing out their praises for a virtual presentation you just did?

“Highly engaging.”
“Never a dull moment.”
“Very warm - like being in the same room with the presenter.”
“Thought provoking.”
“Time flies quickly.”
“Never enough...more please.”
“Wow...and more wow!”

AHA! I get it. I need to follow the principles of becoming a Great Kung Fu Master.

Monks are the best advocates and implementers of Kung Fu. Their Intense focus and dedication to learning and honing their skill is a remarkable key to their expertise. They achieve a high form of wholeness propelled by dedication.

But you think - how can I have applied this to the mastery of webinar presentations?

Let me share with you some insights.

Shifting from the Dark Side to the Bright Side

I realized that I need to help my learners get focused and engaged. I needed to think through and reflect on the elements that bring on the dark side of virtual sessions and how to turn these around and bring them to the bright side of webinars.
What are the dark elements of webinar presentations? As “kung fu masters” how do we repel them? What steps do we take to get learners involved in our sessions and bring on an eventful learning experience? Let me show you.

Dark Element Combat Action


Provocative questions - Form provocative questions that they already know the answers to and allow them to guess.

Ask in-your-face questions that directly stir up their intimate desires, their greatest fears or their inhibitions. This sets up the learners to experience the situation and assess their response.

Poke the bear with a stick and you have it's attention. Your stick is your provocative question.


Do something - having learners join in the presentation by allowing them draw, make choices or even connect the dots on the presentation screen or more…

Doing two tasks is possible. However, truth is that we may not effectively accomplish both at the same time. Hence, the way we keep our learners focused is by creating virtual activities that require their attention and keep them interested in what you are trying to convey.

Kung fu has weapons to fight off the enemy. To become a master webinar presenter we also must be able to combat multi-tasking with virtual tools like chat to write down their thoughts, comments and questions or responses. There are other ways to keep your learners glued to the webinar session and enjoy the virtual experience.


Speak from the heart- Drop all the "BAD SPIRITS" of theoretical writing and speaking; Kill factual presentations by always providing an example first then explaining next. Do not present an idea followed by an example.

Why use 10 when you can use 3 ideas to do the job? As the saying goes less can be more and vice-versa. So go and find the gold nugget from the multitude of ideas.

The Kyudo warrior is completely concentrated and focused as they take aim with their bow and arrow. They have one thing in mind: hitting the target - bull’s eye. Such is the manner in which we decide on the focal point of our presentation. Leave the theories in the books. Pick out your relevant target when conducting webinars and keep focused. Do not concern yourself with too much data. Help learners discover the context and keep them engaged.


Avoid theories. Encourage application - Plain oatmeal is never the first choice but this is good for you. In the same manner, an idea delivered in a monotone voice losses the interest of the learners. By adding a full spectrum of emotions you develop rapport with your learners and the session becomes entertaining.

To set your presentations apart from other boring and bland webinars means making the effort to be beyond ordinary. Keeping the conversation flowing throughout the session, providing impactful images, sharing relatable stories and eliciting stories from your learners are some of the ways to keep things above ordinary. Your moderately toned voice will stimulate the warm and encouraging atmosphere within the virtual session.

No emotions

Feature the two videos:

“Move” your learners - People respond to provocation - positive or negative.Enable learners’ minds to be “pushed to the edge” using techniques like anticipation, curiosity, discovery. Allow them to follow their tendency to peek into something. Use interactive stories to help learners “feel.”

Do see the wind when it hits your face? Well your answer would certainly be NO but you feel it.

Fear, anger, sadness, joy, love, disgust and surprise are some of the emotions that can trigger learners to respond with their own stories and share insights.

Short interactive stories like those featured here are examples of how a very short story can enable learners to relate to the gamut of emotions shown and enable them to respond effectively and help them discover learning and application points.

Most of all, it is always worthwhile to call people by their names as you read their comments and feedback. It provides the warmth as a trainer to the virtual environment.

Kung Fu Masters use varied skills and styles. Yet, they exude similar characteristics - agility, flexibility, dedication and determination. In the same manner, the mastery of webinar presentations require the development of certain skills.

Learn the LAY of the land

There are certain demands among workers/learners in the workflow.
  • they have to perform at work
  • they have to apply ideas
  • they have no time
  • they want to get into the action
  • they seek to solve problems
Acquire a 360-degree view of your learners’ needs when assessing the focal point of your presentation.

Commence your virtual party
  • Find relatable stories that trigger conversations.
  • Throw in a thought-provoking question to start virtual engagement that allows for experience-sharing.
  • Lend the warmth of your virtual presence by acknowledging your participants’ comments and feedback.
  • Solicit insights and feedback
Be a Kyudo Warrior too

A Kyudo warrior is required to develop mental, physical, and spiritual discipline to emerge as a master archer. The use of the bow and arrow demanded not only adeptness but elegance.

As master presenters, we must develop elegant timing - when to ask questions, how to throw in a provocative thought, when to be quiet, at what point do we interject in the virtual conversation, what kind of stories to share and how to bring it all together at the end.


At the core of every presenter who aspires to be a Kung Fu Webinar Master let me leave you with these questions, How soon do you plan to make that paradigm shift in your presentations? When do you start your own journey into obtaining the mastery?

I strongly encourage you to go for it NOW! In the next tip I will share with you snippets from some of the great webinar presenters. Don’t miss it!


Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Friday, June 9, 2017

How My Life Changed with Virtual Learning and Webinars - Tip #136

I have never looked back again. My new life is more about quality webinars and virtual learning now.

Let me share with you how I reinvented myself.

1. Initially, I had to do some soul searching

First question I asked myself was, “Why do I love doing classroom and face to face sessions?”

I realized that I really love it because of the warmth of being with people.
There is no substitute for the catharsis and exchange of moving emotional conversations.

The face to face conversations are sweet moments I cherish. I also love the experience of hopping on airplanes and the opportunity to travel to other locations and just to be with people.

It is what I primarily appreciate about it.

Then it dawned on me that there was also an “ugly” part which I only learned during my reflective moments and soul searching.

… I love hearing myself talking with people and entertaining them.
… I love the sound of laughter.
 I love jokes
… I also love seeing smiles 
… I love the warmth of rapport with learners.

But then I asked myself. Are my learners really learning?

My guess is this, and this may or may not be true with you as well.

Sometimes the warmth, entertainment and the fun side of face to face
and classroom learning GETS in the way of better usage of learning time..

I realized how egotistical I was!  (smile)
Enjoying the laughter and warmth of the in-person sessions do not necessarily mean that learning has been achieved.

It was an awesome discovery for me. It has helped me immensely to gain a change of perspective and approach to my learning sessions.

2. So then I asked the next question

How then can I help learners learn more and yet experience the fun side of learning?

AHA… Eureka!

I can accomplish more in virtual learning and webinars, because I can PROVIDE LEARNERS MORE TIME TO REFLECT AND APPLY IDEAS THROUGH ACTUAL PROJECTS.

WOW! This impacted me so hard. It was an amazing discovery.
In the classroom...
  • the day is cramped
  • the schedule is so tight
  • very little time is spent on applications and reflection
  • there is not enough time for reflection
  • there is no room or space to distance one’s self from the noise
  • one’s energy is drained by the end of the session

In webinars...WOW...if the workshop is divided into 5 sessions spaced over a few days,
learners now have ...
  • time to breathe with spaced schedules
  • experience some silence / almost no noise 
  • time for reflection
  • time to rethink 
  • an opportunity for application time
  • time to check with their company peers and bosses
  • have enough time to focus and practice on the projects
3. Hence, my life as a learning catalyst is forever changed

I still miss doing face to face events. Yet, deep in my heart I know I need to give up certain side benefits of the classroom setting for the sake of my learners.

On the other hand, I am thankful for the other benefits gained from my virtual sojourns
  • my family is happy/my kids are happy because I am home more often.
  • my back no longer aches from having too many plane rides...(and no need to worry about being yanked out of my United flight - (smile)
4. Now the next step is to be a master of virtual events and webinars!

Stay tuned next week... I look forward to sharing with you my journey to becoming a master.

Next Tip:

"How I became a 'Kung Fu Master' in Webinars and Virtual Training?"

Also watch out for these other upcoming tips in the weeks to come:
  • What I learned from the WEBINAR Gurus --Thiagi, Lou Russell, Jane Bozarth
  • My Great Makeover from an Ugly to a Beautiful Webinar Presenter!

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, June 5, 2017

Learning by SNIFFING: Are Learners Really Distracted or Are They Learning Differently? - Tip #135

The description of learners as distracted or having short attention span is one-sided and unfair. Also, it becomes problematic when this serves as the foundation for a microlearning design.

Being distracted and having short attention span go with the assumption that learners ought to pay attention to some form of content and must finish the entire content. What’s more, the concept of distracted learners assumes they have to complete testing to show they’ve learned the content.

But are learners truly distracted? Or could it be possible that they’re just learning differently?

Neurologist Adam Gazzaley and research psychologist Larry D. Rosen in The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High Tech World posits an interesting idea: Humans are hardwired to sniff out data.

Unable to Let Go

It’s not a secret that we have a NEW type of learner. But are we focusing on them or are we too in love with our content? It may be that many of us have been too long at our roles as instructors and designers and continue to “force” our formal content as the best way to learn.

Focusing on the Wrong Thing
Formal learning design and delivery has its own place. However, the assumption that learners ought to pay attention to or focus on learning content contradicts what Gazzaley and Rosen calls “sniffing” and “foraging.”

They argue that our brain is sensitive to interference and that this sensitivity is our brain’s fundamental vulnerability. In today’s world, where technological innovations such as the internet and mobile devices abound, it’s easy to imagine how too much information can interfere or “threaten to overwhelm our brain’s goal-directed functioning.”

What’s interesting, however, is that the sniffing and foraging of data is a sensitivity to interference that may work for us or against us. Shane O’MAra, professor of experimental brain research and Wellcome Trust senior investigator, suggests that this sensitivity might have “an adaptive value” and supports our behavior:

Adaptive Behavior

O’Mara further suggests that perhaps, what is a distracting behavior is a substitution behavior. We “forage” and “sniff” because we have devices that serve as “cognitive extensions of the brain” that “enrich our cognitive lives.” We look for ways to find interesting and engaging items (like Facebook photos or Twitter posts) and relegate other data into the background to be accessed when needed (bookmarked or tagged for later studies or future recall).

As designers, this might be an opportunity to look at the right focus: “help learners” to “sniff” valuable data and “relegate” data that may not be useful right then and there.
Microlearning Environment of Successful Sniffing and Foraging

While technology offers many interruptions, it also offers an opportunity to streamline the sniffing and foraging urges. Many apps provide learning systems—chunks of information that allow learners to immerse at their own time and readily apply at the point of need. This is what microlearning is about.


In an environment flooded with technology-driven interruptions, microlearning is the way for learners to dip in without drowning. Sniffing and foraging information can be an opportunity to winnow the non-essentials from the essentials, immerse learning and acquire a variety of skills.


Diana Graber. Kids, Tech and Those Shrinking Attention Spans. Huffington Post, April 30, 2014
Eric Westervelt. Learning In The Age Of Digital Distraction. NPR, November 5, 2016

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hands-On #5: Are You Ready for Microlearning Jobs? Check Out Your Skills

The push for Microlearning has established a firm footing among companies, consultants, suppliers and vendors. In the process they have began recognizing that Microlearning jobs are actually needed now and the talent supply is scarce.

A certain number of these jobs are being done now. However, many new skills are required to hone the necessary craft. How do you pivot to acclimatize and adapt to these new jobs? What path should you follow? How do you know you've arrived?

Download the PDF on "Microlearning Emerging Job Functions"

The "Microlearning Emerging Job Functions" article covers the following below. Check out the details.
  • WorkFlow Consultant
  • "River of News" Writer
  • eCosystems Architect
  • Trust Manager
  • Mobile Creator

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Friday, May 19, 2017

Microlearning Leads to Rapid Skill Acquisition - Tip #134

Do we have a skills crisis? Some economists and academics reject the idea of a skills crisis, but survey findings say otherwise.

We Have a Skills Gap

Most (or 61% of) employees who responded to this Udemy survey think there is a skills gap; 54% report that they lack needed knowledge to do their current jobs.

And this isn’t all in the employees’ imagination; HR and C-suite execs think so too. A survey of the Career Advisory Board found that nearly 60% of respondents said that interviewees for tech roles lack the necessary skills.

It’s important to acknowledge these findings because skills gap can manifest as concrete consequences. For managers, skills gap can impact productivity and customer satisfaction, while workers who lack the necessary skills are afraid of possibly being displaced.

Quickly Learn New Skills Through Microlearning

To survive in a technology-driven environment, workers must learn new skills quickly and efficiently. They need to be able to fix and change things fast by looking for answers and solutions from their own experiences, working with others, through formal and informal sources of knowledge, and tools.
4 Strategies to Acquire New Skills Fast

How long does it take someone to learn a new skill? Josh Kaufman says it only takes 20 hours (45 minutes in a day for a month), not 10,000 hours. Below are 4 strategies to learn new skills fast.

Fix it, change it
What skills do workers need to learn? Why do they need to learn these new skills?
To fix and change things, learners need to break down the skill that is needed to be learned into sub-skills or smaller units. This makes it easily digestible. Learning in small chunks and inter-spaces makes learning easier, faster, and more memorable.

Where can learners find solutions? How do they find the answers? Here are a couple of ideas:

Learn by connections
Let learners connect the unfamiliar with the familiar by using metaphors. As Brian Clark said: “Metaphors allow you to make the complex simple and the controversial palatable.” A complex idea becomes not only comprehensible but also memorable.

Get the right help
Someone who wants to learn how to create graphics would most probably do some research by reading books, watching YouTube videos or asking a demonstration from a friend who knows how.

Now that workers understand the problem and have several options on how to fix it, it’s time to let them focus on the standards that will guide them through the change process. What action or solution requires the least effort, is the easiest, fastest, quickest to apply and the most useful?

Then, break down any barriers and allow them to focus on doing what they need to learn. Give them enough time to practice deliberately.

Lastly, give learners time to reflect. Let them ask themselves: “What results have I accomplished so far? Did these add any value?” When we allow learners to reflect, we give them time to absorb information and to allow that information to stick to their memories.


To stay afloat in a rapidly evolving technology-driven environment, we need to recognize gaps and see them as opportunities for workers to learn new skills. Applying Microlearning principles is an effective way of achieving this goal.


James Bessen. Workers Don’t Have the Skills They Need - and They Know It. Harvard Business Review. September 17, 2014
The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte. The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing: 2015 and beyond. 2015
Victoria Turk. How to learn a new skill in 20 hours. Wired. December 23, 2013

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Friday, May 12, 2017

Hands-On #4: Download your Microlearning Flashcards Demo Source Files

In the context of Microlearning, instant learning happens. Remember your parents or grade school teacher flashing cards and instantly asking you the right answer? I love this a lot in route learning - 10 x  5 (card one), then the back of the card shows the correct answer 50.

Flashcards work well in Microlearning in the memorization of basic key ideas. Although it serves its purpose for building recall and memory, it does nothing for the worker when solving a problem.

The biggest benefit of Microlearning Flashcards is in the fundamental format of making a small bite of idea or concept repeatedly memorized.

Download the source files for the FlashCards

Preview two examples of Flashcards. Then download the Storyline source file. You can own the files for your in-house reference.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Hands-On #3: Download Your Copy of the Microlearning Chatbot (Emulation)

The worlds of Learning Machines and Deep Learning are now vocabularies borrowed from the cognitive sciences and now applied in technology. IBM touts its Watson to be a learning machine capable of deep learning and more capabilities. Amazon's Alexa promises the same Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovations. Iphone has SIRI as an advance learning machine. There are many more illustrations.

From a learning view, we all wonder how this really works. Click here to view a SIMULATED CHATBOT - Talk with Tobias.

Why are chatbots Microlearning tools?

When trying to solve problems or finding solutions or just following one's curiosity, workers can dive into historical data or scenarios. In the backend, the chatbots are powered by tremendous volume of data which are organized, stored and then served to the worker when he/she is in the inquiry mode. Talk with Tobias is an emulation. We developed this to share with you what a chatbot might look like and how it behaves.
A conversation keeps context

Large systems like IBM's Watson and Amazon's Alexa try to mimic people's experiences like conversations. This is pretty similar to what SIRI says - "How can I help you?" or "I can't understand your question."

Talk with Tobias is our own illustration. Of course, this is very short because it is only an emulation.
Download you copy of Talk with Tobias

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Hands-On #2: Download Your Copy of the Story Development Template

When I saw the videos from the University of Western Florida, I thought the way they do "Mistory" is fascinating. The videos educate while entertaining the viewers and learners. Please see the website with several videos.

This hands-on guide is a template that you can use to study and prepare story structures for your videos. For this exercise I took the Lions in the Water: the Impact of the Environment on the Gulf video. In the YouTube version you can see the Transcript which I included with time markers in the explanations.

Watch the video while you also check out the Lionfish PDF large format (11x17 page.) In the PDF layout I also added some comments on key ideas to help you write your proposed script for your project.
Download the Lionfish PDF file and have fun with your learning.

Let me know of your thoughts.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Hands-On #1: Technique on Combining Factual Content with Stories

How do you make sure that when using stories in your lesson, you still drill down to the details of the content?

One of the most challenging tasks in Story-Based Learning Design is combining facts within the story.

This WOW series explains an actual demo on a technical production content and how characters have a conversation.

Video by Ray to explain the demo

Demo is Downtime

Key ideas to remember:
  1. Use an event with characters having conversations.
  2. Discuss the factual content, like statistics and data, that are relevant to the story.
  3. Never insert a fact if it is not within the context of the story.
  4. Add more facts as references to support the information used within the story.

See related Tips:

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Are You Breaking Learners’ Trust? - Tip #133

Trust is a basic instinct. We are born with a propensity for it. Even 18-month-old children know who they can or can’t trust. When we trust someone, we are willing to take risks. Even if we aren’t good swimmers, we’re willing to dive from a cliff into the sea with someone we trust.

Why is Trust Important?

Trust is the essence of relationships which in turn define the essence of success.

As educators, it is very important that we ask the questions: Do learners trust us? Are they not skeptical about our lessons?

Learners’ trust is essential because “If they don’t trust you, your ideas are just dead in the water”.

Trust and eLearning

In elearning, it is assumed that content is accurate. However, many learners who are burned out by lecture-type and meaningless lessons become skeptical.

In a meta-analysis of 225 studies of undergraduate STEM teaching methods, Freeman and colleagues concluded that teaching approaches which engaged learners as active participants rather than passive listeners “reduced failure rates and boosted scores on exams by almost one-half a standard deviation.”

Learners are also critical of content that is unexciting, difficult to understand or irrelevant and meaningless.

The skepticism may not be apparent, but it is manifested in their lack of enthusiasm and interest, and an unwillingness to push further to find answers; instead, they are in a hurry to complete the lessons.

As learning professionals, we have a contract with our learners. We want to help them be better at what they do.

How Do We Build Trust?

Be honest, sincere and caring

When we are honest, we gain credibility and integrity. When we are genuinely sincere, we do what we promise to do.

“Do they care about me?”

When you truly care for somebody, you put your ego aside and focus on the other person. According to Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years spent trying to get people interested in you.”

In a learning environment—and in fact, any relationship—there needs to be a two-way trust. Learners trust learning professionals to share with them something valuable and useful. On the other hand, learning professionals entrust their learners to absorb the lessons and bring their learning back to their workplace to improve themselves and their work.

Entrusting employees could mean making them feel free to disagree with others and learning from mistakes, as well as an assurance that they would not be punished for failure. This creates an environment where learners are engaged. This makes them feel empowered and motivated to learn and ask questions.


In the digital world, where security breaches are common, it is important to create designs and interfaces that can be trusted by users. They should be clear, transparent, credible, understandable and easy to use.

A survey of 1,358 consumers found that trust eroded when designs do not offer services relevant to their needs.


Humans have a fundamentally tribal nature. In the past, tribal communities were held together by kinship and shared history. Today, a tribe’s critical bond goes beyond biology, demography or faith.

Because of a shared interest or purpose, tribe members find it easier to trust each other than individuals or groups outside the tribe. For instance, parents will trust advice from other parents more than they would accept suggestions from their single workmate.


Trust is vital in the learning process. It is therefore imperative that as learning professionals we build learners’ perception of our trustworthiness.


Amy Cuddy. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. Huffington Post. Updated March 13, 2013
Dale Carnegie. How to Build Trust and Relationships. Learning Heroes. December 12, 2014
Charles H. Green. The Trusted Advisor. Touchstone. October 9, 2011
Bruce Beairsto and Pekka Ruohotie. Empowering Professionals as Lifelong Learners. Professional learning and leadership. 2003
Carrie Cousins. How to Create a UI That Users Can Trustk. Design Shack. April 18, 2016
Ilana Westerman. Designing to Build Trust. UX Magazine. October 31, 2012
Joel Kotkin. Tribes and Trust. Forbes. July 21, 2010

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"