Embrace Lecture

In this video, produced by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Greg Owen-Boger, Turpin’s VP, encourages you to embrace lecture.

Greg here with Turpin Communication. Conventional wisdom in the industry goes something like this: lecture is bad, activities are good. And I’m not so sure I agree with that. I mean lecture, if done well, and honestly that is a big if, can be efficient, direct, and really easy to prepare for. You just want to make sure that the lecture isn’t boring. So I always tell our clients, “Find enthusiasm for something. If you can’t find it for the topic, find it for the individuals that are in the room. You should be able to find enthusiasm for helping them learn. And when you do this, it will make all the difference in lecture.”

Using Subject Matter Experts in Your Training Programs

Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger were recently interviewed by HR Daily Advisor about the content of their upcoming book, “Effective SMEs: A Trainer’s Guide to Helping Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning.”

HR Daily Advisor article on Turpin CommunicationWhat are the main benefits and risks of using subject matter experts (SMEs) in training, and how can organizations help SMEs be successful?

“The real benefit is subject matter experts are experts in their field. They live it. They work with it every single day,” says Greg Owen-Boger, vice president of Turpin Communication. “Bringing their expertise into the training room is invaluable.”

SMEs also can impart their knowledge on other employees, which ensures that the know-how stays with the employer when SMEs retire, Owen-Boger says.

Since SMEs generally are not experts in talent development or training, employers should be proactive about “setting SMEs up for success,” Owen-Boger says. That starts with instructional design.


Link to read more: http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/06/30/using-subject-matter-experts-training-programs/

8 Tried-and-True Steps to Building Trust

When we wrote about Turpin’s culture last fall, we had no idea who it might lead us to. As friends do, they lead you to their friends, and the next thing you know, you’re being interviewed for an article in Success Magazine!

Thank you, Barbara Egel, for introducing us to Melissa Balmain, the author of the piece.


An excerpt:

Employees at Turpin are interviewed about building trust among employees and clients

Image originally appeared with the article at Success.com


Crazy Man trusted nobody, and nobody trusted him.

That’s how Dale Ludwig describes his former boss at a public-speaking training company.

Crazy Man listened in on employees’ phone calls. He turned against his favorites without warning. He preached company values he didn’t live by—honesty and fun—and tried to control every moment of everyone’s day.

“I always assumed I was being observed and I had to keep my head down and do the minimum and not call attention to myself,” Ludwig says.

Twenty-five years later, Ludwig is the founder and president of Turpin Communication, a communication skills company in Chicago. “I trust people to do their jobs and I give them the freedom to do them,” he says. The result: a workplace that’s the polar opposite of Crazy Man’s. “It’s like, Oh boy, here are my friends and we all have interesting work to do and we’re going to do it really well.”

From office to home, from friendship to parenthood to romance, stories like Ludwig’s are legion. Nothing matters more than trust.

Read the full article

Facilitator Training

Facilitator training for every variety of facilitatorBusiness people step into the role of facilitator in a variety of situations. Because of this, we provide facilitator training options to meet the range of needs our clients face.

The different types of facilitators we work with include:

  • Business Presenters – It’s not unusual for presenters to facilitate group discussions in order to gain alignment during their presentations. For information about this type of presenter training, visit our presentation skills workshop catalog.
  • Trainers – More and more, corporate trainers are moving away from being lecturers and toward being facilitators of learning. Facilitators deliver content just as trainers always have, and this, of course, requires excellent presentation skills. But they do more than present. Facilitators of learning also create a rich learning environment in which information is shared, discussions are moderated, and exercises are set up and debriefed. Because this type of facilitation is a challenge for everyone, we have developed a catalog of facilitator training workshops for trainers. These workshops are for new or “accidental” trainers, experienced trainers, and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) tasked with delivering training.
  • Meeting Leaders – Business people lead meetings on a regular basis. Most of these meetings are low-stakes events designed to get business done, make a decision, or gain alignment. While these meetings may seem mundane, when they aren’t managed well, they waste time and frustrate employees. This can lead to a loss of good will among team members and an erosion of trust. To help these meetings be more efficient and effective, we’ve created a catalog of meeting facilitator workshops. (We’ve also developed a Business Meeting Contract that you may print and distribute to meeting attendees.)
  • High-stakes Meeting Facilitators – When the stakes are high, extra care must be taken to get the right facilitator. During these meetings, a great deal of money may be at stake. Relationships among attendees may be strained. Tempers may flare. The decisions made may have a lasting effect on people throughout the organization. When it’s crucial that the facilitator hold a neutral point of view, a third party should be called in. At other times, an internal person is appropriate, as long as they possess the necessary skills, can earn the trust of the group, and are able to set their opinions aside. Our workshop, Advanced Facilitation Skills, will provide the training to develop these skills.

All of Turpin Communication’s facilitator training workshops help participants develop the skills they need to succeed.  For meeting facilitators, the training process focuses on the following.

  • Planning for the discussion
    • Identifying the intended outcome
    • Developing an agenda
    • Framing the meeting to reflect the perspective of meeting attendees
  • Creating the conditions for a fruitful discussion
    • Engaging attendees in the conversation and making them feel safe
    • Setting context and laying the groundwork
    • Following the agenda without stifling the discussion
    • Asking the right questions
    • Encouraging equal participation among attendees
    • Managing conflict if it arises
    • Listening for what’s said and what’s not
    • Observing without judgment
    • Connecting dots, summarizing, knowing when to move on
  • Closing the discussion
    • Helping others reach consensus and make decisions
    • Documenting the discussion and decisions that are made
    • Setting next steps

If we can help you hone your facilitation skills in any of the situations described here, let us know.

Contact us at info@turpincommunication.com or call 773-294-1566

Communicate Like a Leader

Communication is an essential leadership skillCommunication is an Essential Leadership Skill

I recently watched a TED talk by Simon Sinek called “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe.” His talk motivated me to buy his latest book, Leaders Eat Last. In both the talk and the book Sinek defines effective leadership in ways that reminded me that the work we do at Turpin is not only about helping people communicate more effectively and efficiently. It’s also about helping them become leaders.

Sinek says that good leaders make people feel safe within the organization. This feeling of safety leads to trust, cooperation, open dialogue, and the desire to look out for everyone’s interests, not just our own. When people feel safe, the business and everyone in it wins.

It’s About How You Make People Feel

This struck a chord with me because we also talk a lot about how presenters, trainers, and facilitators should make people feel. For example, we teach that

  • Meeting participants need to feel that the conversation taking place is a good use of their time and that the meeting facilitator is competent and trustworthy.
  • Learners in a workshop need to feel that the trainer is working hard to make whatever is presented relevant and useful to them.
  • People listening to a presentation need to feel that the presenter is genuinely open and responsive to their needs and perspectives.

When these feelings are not present, people will shut down, check out, and refuse to give their best to the process taking place.

As Sinek points out, feelings of trust and safety cannot be dictated. You can’t simply say, “Trust me” and expect people to do it. You can’t expect people to feel comfortable asking questions simply by asking them to be. These feelings are the result of how genuinely a leader demonstrates interest and empathy.

Trust Must Be Earned

When we help clients manage their meetings, presentations, and training sessions more effectively, we emphasize the fact that trust must be earned with every interaction. Every time you’re at the front of the room, you’re assuming a leadership role and must consider how people are feeling about what’s happening. This includes making sure that the process itself—whether presentation, meeting or training session—feels efficient and relevant for the people participating in it.

Here are some of the ways you can do that:

  • As you prepare for your next presentation, think about how your team will receive the information you’re delivering. Are they eager to receive it? Unaware that it’s important to them? Are they resistant? Let this insight determine how you set context for the presentation. Acknowledge their feelings, especially if they’re negative. Many times this will feel risky, but as Sinek says, leaders lead by taking risk first.
  • During your next meeting, focus on engaging people in a conversation, not just delivering a message. Make them feel part of the process. This takes effort because you have to get out of your head and be fully in the moment with the people you’re talking to. Once you’re there, though, it’s easy to let their responses guide you.
  • If you’re delivering training, pay attention to what learners are feeling about the process. Are they confused, frustrated or intimidated? If they are, it’s your job to make them feel safe enough to express those feelings. Without knowing how they feel, it’s impossible to react and adjust appropriately.

The next time you’re leading a meeting or a training session, think of yourself as a leader. Doing so will help you earn the trust and goodwill of the people you work with.

by Dale Ludwig, President & Founder and co-author of the book, “The Orderly Conversation”

Change of Plan—You’re Delivering THESE Slides Instead

We are always looking for new ways to improve the impact that we have on our clients, their teams, and the portion of the business that they support. This article is about a recent client request and how we made an on-the-fly adjustment to a workshop, which resulted in a big win for the presenters.

During the workshop, which was designed for highly technical individuals presenting to leadership, we were asked by the client to change up an exercise. This rarely happens. What we do in the training room is always very well planned. While adjustments are made all the time, the intent of each exercise doesn’t change. This time things were different.

Here’s the situation. The participants in the class are all members of the same team. The presentations they deliver are always team presentations, with each member of the team delivering the same portion each time, focusing on their particular area of expertise.

One of the leaders of the group, who was also a participant in the training, pulled me aside on the last day of the class. He said, “I wonder if we could try something new. Could we ask each team member to deliver someone else’s content?” He went on to say that there were times when this actually happens, when one team member had to step in for another. They are never comfortable when this happens because they focus so much attention on their own material. He wanted them to be more flexible.

After some discussion of how the exercise would be managed and how content would be swapped, I agreed, hoping that I hadn’t just agreed to something that would set the presenters up to fail.

I didn’t need to worry. For most of the presenters this exercise showed them at their best. They were concise, delivered the slides very well, and remained focused and engaged throughout. I was pleasantly surprised. When I had time to think about it, I figured out why this exercise was so successful.

Each of the presenters was detail oriented and sticklers for preparation and accuracy. Their jobs are technical, and in their roles this strength serves them well. However, they needed to work on being more concise and listener-focused when delivering their presentations. When their own content was taken away from them, they were forced to actually see and use the slides they were delivering—in the moment. They could not rely on what they had planned to say because they had no plan. The exercise forced them to trust the slides to guide them.

This is exactly what we teach, of course, but this new exercise showed this group what that process really feels like. The leader had been right; this was just what they needed. Each of them felt successful, which was a surprise to them since there was no way for them to get prepared. They had to rely on their ability to think on their feet and use the slides to guide them through the conversation.

The lesson for us all? The next time you’re delivering content find a way to look at your slides with fresh eyes. That’s the way your audience sees them, after all, and putting yourself in their shoes has huge benefits.

by Dale Ludwig, President & Founder and co-author of the book, “The Orderly Conversation”

Don’t Waste Your Audience’s Time

In this video, produced by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Greg Owen-Boger, Turpin’s VP, discusses respecting your learners’ time.

Greg here with Turpin Communication. In my experience coaching trainers, one of the things I recognize is that they often lose credibility because they waste learners’ time in the classroom. They use ineffective icebreakers, or unnecessary icebreakers. They might teach content that the learners already know, come back late after breaks, and so on. You get the idea. We must respect the fact that adult learners are busy people at work. That means we need to respect their time. Be efficient in the classroom without rushing so that we can get them back to work.

Turpin Cares – May 2017 Update

The number of people living with homelessness in Chicago is staggering.


Food, clothing, and toiletries for Turpin Cares by Turpin Communication

Turpin Communication is doing what we can to help. In January of this year we started a new philanthropic wing called Turpin Cares. On a regular basis (quarterly for now), employees and “friendlies” get together to create care packages that are distributed to people in need.

Last weekend we came together to create 30 kits. Each one includes a combination of food, clothing, and personal hygiene items. Some items are donated. Others are purchased with donations from individual donors and Turpin Communication. Each kit contains about $40 worth of necessities.

The project was originally developed a few years ago by Greg, Turpin’s VP, and his good friend Olive. At the time it was just a way for two friends to get together to do something for people in need over the holidays. During the 2016 holiday season, it occurred to them that if they were ever going to be able to make a bigger impact, they’d have to find a way to scale up. That’s where the idea of Turpin Cares came from. Turpin Communication is able to use our resources (funding, office space, network of people) to reach even more individuals in need.

In addition to the care packages last weekend, Turpin Cares also collected winter coats and books for other organizations.

The coats are for the “Blue House” at Morgan Park High School, which is an after-school safe house for students. As their website says, “… the Center reaches out to students, faculty, and the community in the roles of advocate, counselor, teacher, and friend.” Learn more

The books are for Inspiration Corporation, which, in addition to providing meals, provides a free library for its clients. Thank you, Barbara Egel, one of Turpin’s trainers, for allowing us to donate books to this worthy cause that you care so deeply about. (Incidentally, Barbara was Volunteer of the Month last November at the café.)

Although our impact is small, we know that for the individuals receiving these gifts, it means the world. At Turpin Communication, we have high hopes for Turpin Cares. Want to get involved with future projects? Let us know by emailing greg@turpincommunication.com

We’d like to send a very warm thank-you to everyone who worked together for this weekend’s event:

Turpin Friendlies
Adam SchwartzentraubTurpin Cares supports the homeless in Chicago
Ann Manfredi
Barb Schwartzentraub
Becky Goddard
Betsy Carnahan
Cindy Grabowski
Debbie Pastors
Jean Carroll
Laura Jane Baily
Leslie Anglada
Lucy Gaillard
Mrs. Schneider
Olive Rogers
Rich and Jennifer Schneider
Stacey O’Brien and The Chicagoland Compassion Connection
Steve English and Ryan Steinbach
Susan Richards
Traci Crawford
Vickie Wessels-Murphy

Turpin Cares is a philanthropic arm of Turpin Communication designed to help the homeless in ChicagoTurpin Employees, Contractors, and Vendors
Barbara Egel (Trainer)
Dale Ludwig (Founder & President)
Greg Owen-Boger (Vice President)
Kevin Vogelsang (Operations Manager)
Mary Vogelsang (Bookkeeper)
Sarah Stocker (Trainer and Workshop Coordinator)

Get involved with Turpin Cares by emailing greg@turpincommunication.com

Do you represent a shelter or other non-profit organization that would like to explore ways to partner with us? Contact Greg Owen-Boger at greg@turpincommunication.com

Help! My SME Just Went Rogue… Now What?!

If you’ve ever worked with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in the training room, the title of this article is probably a familiar one.

SMEs can and do go rogue.

It’s not unusual for a Talent Development professional to lament the fact that the SMEs they work with don’t follow the facilitation guide or that they alter (or even cut) well-planned activities. If this has happened to you, don’t pull your hair out. Help is on its way.

When we work directly with SMEs, we hear comments such as:

  • “The order of these slides doesn’t make any sense to me at all.”
  • “I’m not going to do this activity. I don’t understand it, and it’s a waste of time.”
  • “The process that’s laid out isn’t how it is in the real world.”
  • “I’m sure this made sense to someone at some point, but I have no idea what this slide is supposed to be about. I guess I’ll just make something up.”

Often these comments are in response to a design that they simply don’t understand or an organizational structure that doesn’t fit the way they think about the subject.

Is Learning Happening?

The question that you, as the Talent Development professional, must ask is this: “Is the learning happening?” If it is happening, consider allowing the SME to continue with what he or she is doing. There are a lot of battles to fight, this doesn’t have to be one of them.

If the learning isn’t happening, or isn’t happening as efficiently as it could, then it’s time to respectfully step in and exercise your expertise in adult learning. There are a few approaches you could take.

  1. Redesign the learning so that it better matches the way your SME thinks. This will go a long way to building trust between the two of you.
  2. Explain why the learning has been designed in the way that it has, and coach the SME to work with it. Their lack of seeing the bigger picture may be causing their frustration. Make sure they understand what they’re supposed to accomplish at every step of the way and how the building blocks work to accomplish the overall goal.
  3. The third option is a combination of the previous two.

Regardless of the approach, empathize with the SME. Delivering material that you didn’t create is tricky business. Expressing empathy for their situation can go a long way in maintaining a positive working relationship.

We’ll be talking a lot more in the coming months about working with SMEs in the training room. Look for those articles here on our blog, and stay tuned for the upcoming book (published by ATD Press) with the working title, “Working with SMEs: Designing for and Coaching Subject Matter Experts to Facilitate Learning.”

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP at Turpin Communication and co-author of the book, “The Orderly Conversation