As you may know, I am on the faculty at Western Colorado University, in the Graduate Creative Writing Program. For the last four years I have coached grad student creative writers (poets, genre novelists, and now screenwriters) on Public Performance presentation skills during the department’s summer intensive in beautiful Gunnison, CO.
Each year I have been impressed with the quality of the writing across the genres, and also with the willingness of each student to open up to my coaching, which I’ve designed to help typically introverted writers to embrace public performance of their own works. After all, a good reading can help sell books! And it’s very important to all of us on the faculty that we are preparing our writers to succeed in the real world.
My group of students for 2019 was terrific–and more diverse than ever. In addition to coaching the third year MFA students extensively (all of whom must give a public reading of 15-20 minutes from their work), I also held a session with the second year genre fiction class, and conducted a number of sessions with the first year poetry group. The improvements in each case were palpable to all in the room. As is typical, some students took small but tangible steps toward comfort in public performance, and others seized the opportunity full on and ended up delivering truly exciting readings.
My congratulations to all my students. Well done! Here’s a picture of me with the 2019 MFA/MA graduating class. I can’t wait to hear more from all of you. If you’re a writer looking to hone your skills, you should check out the excellent program we have at WCU and join us. It’s a low-residency program with a great in-person summer residency each year. I’d love to see you there!
My client Green Mountain Coffee Roasters recently flew me out to Seattle to teach another session of my full-day eLearning Voiceovers class for their Sumner, WA site. This is the third site I’ve visited for GMCR so far, and once again it was a great bunch of students, all willing and eager to dive into the full-day exploration of what it takes to add genuinely engaging voiceovers to eLearning projects.
The great work the students did in class, and the great feedback I received afterwards, are proof that my holistic and personalized approach to eLearning voiceovers really pays off. I don’t just teach and coach on voiceover delivery; I work hands-on with my students in creating quality scripts, preparing their vocal instruments (every voice is different, after all!), and learning the basics of Audacity sound software, as well. As my GMCR students in Sumner proved in their classwork, quality voiceovers always begin with engaging, speakable scripts that “hook” and “hold” the ear of the learner, to ensure a learning payoff.
As in all previous sessions I’ve offered, the huge leap in quality for what my students produced by the end of the day was audible to everyone in the room. Microphones don’t lie, and neither do ears. I never tire of watching my students’ faces light up with pleasure when one of them delivers a genuinely fresh and engaging voiceover performance that makes every person in the room sit up and take notice. Bingo. And I love knowing that they leave my class fully equipped to recreate that success back at their own desks. Well done, all!
Here’s a great shot taken at the end of my full-day eLearning Voiceovers class, which I led once again for the great folks of GMCR, this time down in Knoxville, TN. A number of the students couldn’t stay for the photo as they had flights to catch, but we had 18 in all.
It was a great bunch, with a great attitude. Lots of fun, lots of learning, and lots of creativity on display in their projects.
My thanks again to GMCR for the opportunity to work with a team of people who are really into their jobs. Given the differences I heard between the beginning and the end of the day, I’m confident that these talented folks now know how to better leverage their voiceover skills to add genuine engagement and impact to their eLearning modules.
Well done, all!
Also not pictured: the folks I coached one-on-one the next day on Presentation Skills. Great growth and progress all around!
Last fall, I provided one-on-one Presentation Skills coaching sessions for a number of executives at one of my clients’ locations. The feedback I received through my client contact afterward was terrific, and I was thrilled that my input had such a positive impact. One of my attendees sent my contact the following praise, and later kindly gave me permission to share it with you:
“I gained an appreciation for the importance of bringing conviction and passion into presentations, including those that seem mundane (e.g. regular updates). Most times as a presenter, you know more about that particular topic than anyone in the room. Over the course of 60 minutes, Andrew reminded me of this point and helped me experience the impact of speaking from the heart with focus and energy. Despite the same slides and message, my presentation of the material at the end of the session was much more powerful (and literally felt better) than my handling of the same content at the start.”
I also coached this same executive again a few weeks ago. Since our session in the Fall, he has been promoted to a leadership role, and he needed to prepare his presentation for the company’s upcoming Annual Sales Meeting, which the company’s new CEO would be attending. This time we worked virtually for two hours. As I typically do in these sessions, I gave tips and suggestions for improving the PowerPoint presentation materials themselves, as well as for how to deliver the presentation with maximum impact. I dropped the executive a note the week after the sales meeting to ask how it went. He reported that he had hit a true home run, and that the praise he had been receiving from both his peers and his superiors has been almost embarrassing in its enthusiasm. I’m not at all surprised; this fellow takes input to heart, and puts it into action immediately. And clearly, the results showed! My congrats to him on his success.
Today, I’ve just completed a couple of one-on-one coaching sessions at another of the company’s locations, and again great work from both people. It’s always a pleasure when people walk in, eager to communicate!
I was recently invited by one of my former students to visit her company, a major coffee and coffee products corporation. Laura brought me in to teach the same full-day course she took with me back at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions 2010 conference: How to Create and Deliver eLearning Voiceovers Like a Pro. In addition, she engaged me for a day of one-on-one Presentation Skills coaching for others at her company.
I love teaching and coaching, and I had terrific students both days. The results were fantastic. Working with people so enthusiastic about learning and trying new things, and seeing major improvement in their work by the end of the session, is always incredibly gratifying. I was genuinely impressed with the talent on display at this company.
For the full-day voiceovers program, I had almost 20 eager participants, with varying degrees of comfort in front of a microphone. The audience for this particular program is Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who need to create their own eLearning for their team or department, including crafting the voiceover script, recording the voiceover, and editing it to make it ready for use in an eLearning module. I introduce the key concepts, then let my students play hands-on, and provide guidance and feedback along the way. Throughout the day, participants share their results in a supportive environment. Nothing beats learning by doing, and my students used every minute of the day to experiment and improve. I encouraged them to explore scenarios “outside the box” in creating their scripts, and to consider the use of humor when appropriate. The creativity each person displayed encouraged even more creativity in the others, and everyone had a great time while learning a lot and producing some truly memorable learning moments. When the students presented their final projects at the end of the 8-hour day, every single one showed major improvement, and everyone in the room heard the indisputable proof. There’s going to be some great eLearning coming from these folks. One of the students wrote to me afterwards:
Thank you for the informative and inspiring class you taught last Thursday! I’m very excited to begin implementing all the new things I’ve learned.
Thanks, Lori! I also had a great experience with each of my Presentation Skills clients. At the end of each one-hour session, the client was able to deliver their content with far greater assurance and impact. Each was excellent at taking in and working with my comments and suggestions. It was great to see each person grow in skills and confidence so markedly in such a short space of time. Laura sent around a satisfaction survey afterward, and told me the feedback was terrific. Here is what one of my Presentation Skills clients wrote:
I gained an appreciation for the importance of bringing conviction and passion into presentations, including those that seem mundane (e.g. regular updates). Most times as a presenter, you know more about that particular topic than anyone in the room. Over the course of 60 minutes, Andrew reminded me of this point and helped me experience the impact of speaking from the heart with focus and energy. Despite the same slides and message, my presentation of the material at the end of the session was much more powerful (and literally felt better) than my handling of the same content at the start.
Thanks, Tom! I really appreciate the feedback. And my thanks again to Laura for inviting me to work with the talented folks at her company. These students strongly reinforced my longstanding belief that coaching and gardening (one of my other loves) have a lot in common. If you provide good people with the right conditions and an encouraging environment, great and even remarkable things will grow out of it. Or, to embrace a coffee metaphor, if you put quality ingredients in the cup, and stir it up, you’re going to create something everyone wants. I look forward to my next visit!
As you may know, I taught a full-day pre-conference certificate program on Voiceovers for eLearning Subject Matter Experts at the eLearning Guild’s 2011 Learning Solutions conference. One of my students was Laura Fried, Sales Learning Manager for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. I was delighted to hear from Laura this week that she’ll be at LS2012 conducting a concurrent session on video-based training. If you’re attending the conference this year, I encourage you to check out her session. I was also thrilled that Laura posted a recommendation for me on LinkedIn. I’d like to share it with you:
“I had the opportunity to attend Andrew’s pre-conference certificate program, How to Create and Deliver eLearning Voiceovers Like a Pro (eLearning Guild Learning Solutions 2011). This class had a BIG impact on my work – and a year later I can still remember the many components of the work we did. Andrew’s material included a variety of hands-on exercises that made the class not only flow well, but kept all engaged. He also facilitated and managed the time well so that all the participants had the opportunity to create sample voiceovers and present them to the class for constructive feedback. Voila, instant reinforcement to cement the learning. Andrew’s background – as a skilled, accomplished actor – brought a high level of trust and authenticity to the class. I highly recommend his teaching and his work!”
In addition, my former student James Glenos and his wife came to see me performing in The 39 Steps down in Jupiter, Florida this past fall. James came into my voiceover class already possessing a very high level of skill, but he, too, told me in November that my class taught him a number of useful tips he still uses today.
Thanks, Laura and James–your feedback means a lot! I love coaching and working with people. I love hearing what my students are doing, and sharing what I’m doing. And to know that my teaching has had a lasting impact on my students is really what it’s all about.