‘Social media for dummies’

Some key takeaways from a workshop I conducted recently

Source: pixabay.com

Now that I got your attention, let me share what happened over the weekend.

I was asked to talk about social media and how should one “survive it.” So I culled lessons and some ideas from my past presentations, plus additional notes from a colleague. I needed to engage attendees in a three-hour long workshop about social media. But prior to the workshop, I created a quick and simple survey to understand my audience. The demographic was quite diverse: I had young, social media savvy attendees who were doing social media management full-time (at least that was what I gathered). There were also a couple of older attendees who wanted practical tips. The other people in that workshop where somewhere between “I am familiar with social media, but I also need to understand how to create a strategy.”

As I went on to research on my talk, I stumbled into numerous “rules on social media.” One of them was this article that identified seven simple steps to understanding social media management. So, I took inspiration from that, and added them to my presentation. I also found this interesting take by George Takei who distilled five lessons he has learned about dealing with social media.

Source: pixabay.com

Takeaway #1: Know thy audience before working on your presentation.

Good thing I did a survey. It gave me an idea on how to frame my presentation. I used surveymonkey.com, a very intuitive service that provides you the fastest way to get feedback (in my case, answers to questions I had about my audience). Presentations may all look the same, but it becomes more effective if you know who you’re talking to. (I learned this lesson the hard way, believe me).

Takeaway #2: Show more than tell. Use visual cues, videos and photos well.

I grab videos from YouTube. I download free stock images from Pexel.com and other services. I try to find some funny cartoons to make a point. And, I use less words in a slide. One idea/message per slide. And if you want to reiterate several ideas in one slide, make it 3 points only. Five is a stretch.

Takeaway #3: As much as possible, avoid reading from your slide. Create a narrative, if you can.

A pet peeve of my former boss. Everyone can read a slide, he would often chime in when he catches any of us reading from our slides. Don’t make your slides the highlight of your talk. Use the slides as visual aid. It shouldn’t take away attention from you. (Even the best of us are always tempted to read from a slide). Don’t…fall…into…that…lazy…trap.

Takeaway #4: Pause. Take a break. Give your audience time to digest your ideas.

I cannot talk for 3 hours. It’s impossible. I would stop listening at a speaker at 30 minutes or less. So how can you sustain the audience’s attention? Play a game. Ask them a question. Call them out, especially those who seem to have disengaged. In my case, I created games that would allow me to get some audience participation. Or, just do some more research and find an appropriate physical exercise that would get your audience’s blood flowing. I’m not kidding.

Takeaway #5: No matter how much you’ve prepared, you would get curve balls.

After I finished the workshop, I immediately got an honest feedback. A man in his 50s told me bluntly that he only understood half of what I said (the exaggeration was from me). I asked why. He replied that he attended the workshop to pick up more basic lessons. He found my talk to highfalutin. That statement floored me. But it was an opportunity to understand what he needed to learn. We ended up exchanging contact information.

Takeaway #6: Always find a way to insert some humor.

I love a laugh. Why not an audience in a workshop. Sometimes I learn faster when I’m having fun. Laughter also breaks the ice, the tension, and the invisible barrier between me and the audience.

Takeaway #7: Listen to what your audience is telling you. Observe them.

I try to always look my audience in the eye to see if they are paying attention. I feel lucky if I can find at least 3 to 5 people listening and even “smiling” at some jokes that I throw at them. Again, look at your audience. Don’t stare at them.

source: freestocks.org

My biggest fear

I’m no expert in doing talks, or conducting workshops. But years of failing and learning from previous talks that I’ve done helped me improve my presentations. Mind you, I’m scared of public speaking. I’m a nervous wreak. I’ve also been told to speak louder, as I tend to speak softly in public. I’m scared of standing in front of a crowd.

With practice and with a lot of preparation, though, I have overcome one of my biggest fears. Talking seems so natural to most of us. However, being able to pass on some knowledge to an audience who doesn’t know you is one of the toughest challenges for me, at least. I am storyteller (at least in writing). And then I remembered my Sunday School stories, in particular, Moses.


Writer’s Note: This writer turned corporate still finds time to read and…write. He often gets told that he is too hyper-educated, which refers to a person who keeps on learning without any clear action in mind. Okay, it’s a joke.

My 2018: A pivotal year (What happened this year and the lessons I’ve learned)

Circa: January 4. 2017. Somewhere in Poblacion, Makati. Met with my two former colleagues who I started working with again starting April 2018.

Lots of things have happened in 2018. Left my job of close to five years. Started a new career in an industry I never thought of going. Daughter is well on her way to College, but she revealed one day that she got herself a boyfriend. A few months later, she broke up with him for reasons I cannot say here (or she will kill me!) I also got me new friends and colleagues who are mostly younger than me.

I also bought my second car, thanks to my new job that offered me a wonderful loan package. My daily work dress has transformed dramatically. I now own more than 20 ties, a set of decent suits and blazers, dress pants and several pairs of formal leather shoes. (I used to own a pair and worn only in December or during special occasions). My jeans and sneakers are only seen and worn on weekends.

I’ve learned new things at my new job and I fell in love with the convenience of mobile (Internet) banking. I finally got rid of two unused mobile phone plans (one was from another telco which proved useless anyway), and cut down on my online subscriptions to the barest minimum. (I subscribed to numerous online news services sans local news).

And, just a few days ago, I got the best news (perhaps the best news so far for the year): I’m on my way to purchasing a new home, just after I finished paying for the first home my wife and I procured years ago.

At 45 years old, these changes are welcome.

Session Road at my hometown, Baguio City, early in the morning. Jan 6, 2018.

Close friends and people I knew from childhood also passed away in 2018. Some of them were younger than me. Some were the adults when I was still a kid, running amok. They all left a mark in my life, an empty spot in my heart.

2018 was a tough year, if I remember it right. It proved difficult leaving a job you’ve been used to for close to 5 years. It was tougher to break that news to colleagues who have become your confidants and friends. (We still stay in touch; in fact, a number of them I am working with now!)

I also didn’t travel much in 2018. But I spent more time with the family. My daughters are getting older (and bigger) and my wife wants to retire from government service (she’s been there for more than 20 years!).

Me, my two brothers and their spouses and mom (in the middle) in a lodging place in Baguio City.

As tradition dictates, I will try to remember the lessons (things that summarizes important things that happened) I have learned and share them here.

2018 stuff that I learned: A rundown

  1. It’s hard to stay and be healthy. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline (save for time management). I need to plan my 2019 better. I have one former colleague who has already joined two Ironman competition in two years, same time when we both started learning how to swim better.
  2. And yes, I need to plan my life better. I learned this recently during a personal visioning exercise in my job by a newly minted friend and colleague. I realized that while we do a lot of detailed planning at work, we don’t take this practice home and make it work for ourselves.
  3. Habits die hard (read: I’m too lazy to get into new habits). New habits are hard to come by. I need to finish my backlist of books. I also need to return to swimming and running every week. I need to always clean up and live a simple life without clutter, both physically and mentally.
  4. Time on gadgets are still a lot. Needs to be less. Social networks are time-sucks. Binge watching is bad for our health. Gaming, much as I enjoy it, takes a lot of time to finish (100+ hours for one game, for example).
  5. Need to simplify life. Get rid of things that I don’t need. Apply Kanso method, hopefully.
  6. Always find time to laugh.
  7. Read to learn. Apply learning, if you can.
  8. You have fewer friends as you get older (real friends).
  9. Money and time are finite resources. Don’t waste them.
  10. I should be working on my retirement fund, soon! Invest or start to learn how to invest.
  11. Find time for your spiritual health. I also found out recently that I badly need to recharge this part of my life. It’s low on battery.
The author inside the BenCab Museum in Baguio.

Note: The author tries to write more 140 characters to keep the brain healthy.