This week, Kellie and I talk about being flexible in the
moment, so you can be responsive
to your audience's needs.
Hear how a video development company is
getting this very wrong, and what Snoop
Dogg has to do with Kellie's syllabus.
Let's jump into it.
Welcome to Ongoing Mastery: Presenting
& Speaking the podcast and the discussion.
Hi Kellie, how are you?
I am well.
How are you Kirsten?
So what are we doing today?
Kellie: today we are following up.
Last week, Pegine, in her interview with
you, Was talking about the importance of
knowing your audience, and that's also
something that Heather Little preview is
gonna be talking about with you next week.
And so we wanted to pick up on this
topic about how knowing your audience is
connected to being flexible in the moment.
Kirsten: Yes, very, very much so.
Kellie: what does that look like
for someone with a background like
yours, Kirsten, as a tech trainer?
Kirsten: So this is something that
you and I were talking about earlier
and that I think many people in the
audience who have some technical
background, uh, are gonna be aware of.
There is a company called
Unity, Unity Software, who makes
a lot of very famous games.
They're in the process of setting
their company on fire this week.
So one of the things that happened is
they put out a statement saying they
were changing their terms of service.
They were trying to make some of
those changes retroactive, and
they put some conditions in there
that was, once we update this, that
means you've accepted the changes.
Which hell no.
And then they also put in, they
wanna do a revenue model that's
based on installations of games,
which is a horribly stupid
idea and is not going to work.
I'm not shocked by this because
the CEO of that company is
somebody who had a previous company
pitched charging users for every
single bullet in a shooting game.
He's, he basically, this guy has
no use for gamers whatsoever.
Being in charge of a game dev company.
Unity does many things.
One of them is game development.
Clearly they've decided that part of
their business is just, doesn't matter.
Which is a shame, but here's the problem.
Beyond just the ethics of it all.
A lot of people who are . Midway
Instream right now, like 2, 3, 4 years
into their game dev and have been
using Unity, can't rebuild it, and
you know, they'll lose all that time.
It is just, that's a huge problem.
And then people who've
been in school, mm-hmm.
, if those training programs and those
schools, which a lot of them do
focus on one product exclusively.
A lot of folks are coming out with
training now into the world on a tool
that people are running away from.
Like it's on fire.
So here's why that matters.
When I was a tech trainer, because
I was freelance, I had to learn
a lot of different products.
And once you learn one product
in a suite, you generally
then can extrapolate that out.
Because I was a freelancer, I also,
I needed to know not only their
product, but I needed to know at
least something about the competition
because people would ask me.
And they'd ask for comparisons and
things, and I would say, well, that's
not a product I teach as I'm aware of.
It's this, this, and this.
Beyond that, I don't know.
. So I'd give them the basics, but I
couldn't say every single time, no clue.
That's not my thing.
Because they were asking
valid, useful questions.
Any CIO, any CTO, anybody at the top level
of any group right now that is responsible
for technical training, please hear me.
If you do not have adaptability built
into your processes, where you're
looking at the tools that you're
training people on, and if the company.
That tool belongs to, decides
to pull something stupid.
, what does that do to you?
Is that a reputational risk for you?
Is that gonna suddenly kill your projects?
It's a big risk to take.
But it's one of those things where
cross training and being a little more.
I don't have the right phrase for it, but
essentially spending time to have people
know the broader area of their subject.
is not a waste, even though it's seen
that way by a lot of companies of like,
well, that's not a good use of our time.
It's like, well, but software
risk is reputational risk.
It's customer risk, it's a problem.
And if you're not thinking about the
fact that all your eggs are in this
one basket, you've got a real, you
know, ride or die with that company.
And if that company pulls something
like what Unity is pulling now, yeah.
I mean, there are game
developers out there.
Unity is putting out this, oh,
ridiculous thing of, oh, well,
it's only gonna affect 10%.
People are gonna go bankrupt.
Some companies, some will actually
go bankrupt if they do this.
This is simply not okay.
And when it comes to this kind of
adaptability, if you're a technical
trainer, if you're a freelancer,
you have to do what I did.
You have to be, you know, multi-platform.
You have to be agnostic.
, if you're in something
where it's, we all use this.
, just be aware.
You may need to be trained up on some
other stuff in case you need to change
jobs or in case something happens,
or in case suddenly there's layoffs.
So just build in a certain
amount of, stay aware of how
the zen of the subject applies.
To more than one thing.
Like knowing game development at
the core levels crosses product.
So yeah, that's my, that's my
rant that I needed to have today.
So thank you for opening that door.
'cause I've been a little
cranky for a few days.
. So for you, how does this show up?
Because I know this shows up for you.
How does this show
Yes, it does.
So we are recording this at the
beginning, more or less couple
weeks into the fall semester.
I teach this semester three sections
of first year college writing.
And so when I have to think about my
audience, I have to think about who's.
In my chairs, and it's not just as you
might think first semester freshmen,
it's a lot of first semester students
brand, brand new college students.
But I have a surprisingly large
number of transfer students who
are juniors, and so they don't
need the same level of conversation
as the brand, brand new freshman.
But I can't.
Just teach to them.
It's not what the class is for.
So I have to find a way to kind of
square the circle and frame the way I am
talking about the concepts of the course
as everybody has skills to get here.
This class is to make sure everybody
leaves it with the same orientation
and the same exposure, and so
it's not minimizing or dismissing
anybody's previous experience.
But it's a, this is how we do it here,
and we take a project-based approach to
a lot of the writing assignments, which
students may or may not be familiar with.
And so there's a fair amount
of breaking bad habits.
So I have to be up on what is it that
my, especially straight from high
school students are likely to have
been taught so that I can effectively
counter program it, as it were.
This is getting a lot easier as
our daughter is getting ever closer
to the age of my college freshman.
And so what she is learning is
much more in track with what
they are learning overall.
Of course, they still come from different
kinds of school systems and all, but it's
a lot easier because I run more and more
things by her just for a generation check.
And I have to keep in mind,
I am at a business school.
A lot of my students don't especially
wanna be in my class, not my
class, just the writing class.
Kirsten: Explain why.
Explain what your class is, right?
Kellie: it's a required class and
it is the first of two required
classes in writing, and it is not
how to write business memos or
contracts or anything like that.
It's not a business writing class.
It's a how to think critically.
And write about what
you're thinking class.
And a lot of students don't see
the value of that right away.
They're eager to get to the good stuff
and there's a lot of work involved.
And that can be a hard sell,
especially at an institution that
has a focus that's so specific.
Having students be interested outside
of that focus is sometimes like,
but that's not why I came here.
It's like, ah, but it
is why you came here.
You just don't know it yet.
Kirsten: Yes, and that's exactly it.
Kellie: Thinking about being aware of
what my students are likely to have
read, so when I'm talking with them, when
I'm making selections for the syllabus
with a global student population, I
can't get this right all of the time,
but I can try to pick things that are
less likely to be immediately familiar.
I have to think about my eight o'clock
class of students often has a lot
of athletes in it because they need
their afternoon free for their sport.
And so I have to think about something
like, okay, this particular eight
o'clock class, we need to be energized.
'cause these students have a long
day, they have rolled out of bed.
Maybe they have practiced before
their eight o'clock class.
And so I can't just make assumptions
about who's in that class and why.
But I can say at eight o'clock,
we all need an energy boost.
And so maybe I'm gonna think about how
I arrange the activities that we'll
be doing so that they can get up and
move around halfway through instead
of sitting, sitting, sitting, sleepy
awake that you know, sometimes happens.
Kirsten: Yeah, I, I definitely look
back on stuff I used to do in college,
and I'm now embarrassed in hindsight
and grateful that I was never that kid
in your class, , because you killed me.
I showed up in pajamas with bunny
slippers and a two liter bottle of Coke.
See, I don't even
Kellie: care about that.
I know so many of my students are in
their pajamas or their gym clothes, and
as long as they don't stink, right, as
long as they haven't combed straight from
the gym, trailing sweat, I don't care.
I mean, some comb straight
from the fashion pages, so
it's really quite a range
Kirsten: so that's awesome because yeah, I . I made a few professors unhappy.
Kellie: You know what, if it's eight
o'clock and you're in your pajamas, as
long as your pajamas are appropriate
to be out in public, I don't care.
Kirsten: I admit the bunny slippers
were a bit much, but I was, you know,
I had to have this eight o'clock
class and I didn't wanna be there
and I was a punk, but, you know, we
did it and, and they did a great job.
The thing about.
Your students and my customers and
everybody is, it's interesting how often
people don't realize that even though the
lesson is not obvious, the lesson's there.
So it's just a matter of, because
it's, there's this gung-ho go, go, go.
Let's get to the goal kind of behavior.
It's not really welcomed to stop and just.
Take in, okay, what can I get from this?
Even if this is a completely
what might that teach me?
That's not really a skillset
that's embraced in a lot of places,
and I know you and I have talked
about this because it's something
we work with on our clients.
With our clients.
And it can be hard for people, especially
really type A people to just bring
it back a little bit and not do that.
Kellie: One of the things that we have
built into the program reflection, each
of the major assignments comes with a
reflection piece that is due after the
primary deadline, and it is part of the
grade for the thing, but you can't do
it all at once because we want students
to go to sleep, get something to eat,
go to class, do whatever, and come back
with a different perspective just because
time has passed and take another look
at what they've done, what went well.
What do they need to continue to work
on for the next project so that it's
not just a check it off the list,
get it done, move on, kind of thing.
That they are themselves
looking at the value of it.
And it's one of the things I
like best about the program
because it helps students take
ownership of what they're doing.
They're not doing it for me.
I mean, of course they're doing it for me.
It's my class.
I grade it, but that's not the point.
They have to be able to generate
this from within themselves and have
some idea of how it looks in the real
And so for everybody watching and
listening, this is ongoing mastery and
it's about presenting and speaking.
But as we've said in previous
episodes, and we'll say later again,
a lot of things fall under that.
You know, I'm talking about video games.
She's talking about a literature class.
What is it in your world that you were
surprised, gave value to your work?
What is it that enhanced it or
refreshed your perspective on it
that you never would've expected?
Share that with us in the comments.
You know, come on social and,
and let us know because we wanna
see kind of where people are.
For me, I'm gonna say I
didn't truly embrace how much.
Learning storytelling was
going to impact what I do.
When I started adding that into
to my work and it became more of
a thing in instructional design.
But I admit I was a little grudging
at first doing the, well, yes, of
course, of course it's valuable,
but, and then really started going.
And it took a few rounds of it
for me to really see the value.
What did that for you?
Kellie: I realized that I really
do need to make the subtext, the
context, and you say, we are doing
this because here's how this connects
to the thing we've done before.
The five paragraph essay that you
are used to doing, and that's fine.
It's not wrong, but it's training wheels
and it's time to take the training
wheels off and really be much more
explicit about the connective tissue
instead of, but isn't it obvious,
assuming that because it was on the
syllabus and because it was stated in
a variety of places that students could
follow the logic of how those things.
Put together, and perhaps they could if
they put in a lot of effort, but since
there are a thousand memes about reading
the syllabus, we're just happy when they
read it, much less when they study it.
And so instead of just being
frustrated, just making the subtext,
the explicit context, and then they
start really getting it and applying
it much earlier in the semester.
Kirsten: That's fantastic.
The syllabus thing, I mean, some people
put, you know, little, little jokes in.
I know I've read one where at the
very end it's, if you got to this
point, email me with this keyword
and I will send you a thing.
You know, I have , I have
Kellie: two, two Rick rolls, one of
them, you know, so you click here
to download the file and then in
the same line it says, no really.
Click here to download the file, but
still click here to download the file.
And the second one is Snoop Dogg.
It's a short little clip
on YouTube Yoyoyo students.
Man, you gotta read the syllabus.
That's where it's at.
And the third one, . The third
one is, To the seventies, sort of
smooth tune, just the two of us.
It's on the syllabus.
You can read it if you try.
It's on the syllabus
Kirsten: and, and how many people
have come back to you or how many
students have come back to you and
said, oh my God, that killed me.
Kellie: is not as high as one per class,
generally, at least one per semester.
But, and sometimes someone will see
it and then I'll click on it and now
everybody sees it and we all laugh.
So that's, that's kind of cheating.
But on their own, without any hint from
me, one out of 60 or so per semester.
Kirsten: Yeah, sounds about right,
. Alright, so this is connective tissue,
like exactly what Kelly was talking
about is we're taking from last week's
interview with Pegine and we're looking
forward to next week's interview
with Heather and there are cross
the stream kind of things going on.
Yeah, so that's what we're doing today.
And please, as always,
Subscribe, like, share.
Let us know what you think
and we will see you next time.
Thanks for watching.
Thanks for listening.
Kirsten: If you enjoyed this conversation
about flexibility when speaking, check
out our earlier conversation on this
topic in season four, episode number 46.
How can speakers and
presenters adapt in the moment?
The link is in the show notes.