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739 - Southwest Airlines Training Honored; Anatomy of a Keynote Design

Learning TRENDS by Elliott Masie - August 22, 2012.
#739 - Updates on Learning, Business & Technology.
55,799 Readers - - twitter: emasie - The MASIE Center.
Host, Learning 2012 - Oct 21 to 24, Orlando, FL -

1. Southwest Airlines Training Honored!
2. The Anatomy of Designing a Keynote Speech.

1. Southwest Airlines Training Honored! We are proud to announce that the Southwest Airlines Training Department will receive a Learning Spotlight Award at Learning 2012, October 21-24, in Orlando, FL.

This award highlights Southwest Airlines’ deep commitment to their Employee training and development programs. Their continuous innovation in learning approaches and their focus on Culture are the main reasons behind their success as a company. During tough times in the airline industry, Southwest maintained their commitment and passion behind training. They did not cut costs in this area but rather continued to invest in their Employees’ development, maintaining that their People are their #1 asset.

“Southwest is honored to be recognized by The MASIE Center for our dedication and passion towards developing our People. We are extremely proud of our Training Department as we redefine how Southwest Employees learn. At Southwest, it’s not just a career; it’s a cause. We will continue to provide innovative learning to inspire our employees to reach their fullest potential. This investment in our People ensures that Southwest’s success will continue for years to come.” – Elizabeth Bryant, Southwest Airlines Training Department, Managing Director

“Southwest is a great example of a corporate commitment to learning and to the evolution of learning. Learning 2012 is pleased to honor the continual innovation of Southwest in the learning, development and performance field.” - Elliott Masie.

Details at

2. The Anatomy of Designing a Keynote Speech: In a few hours, I will be taking the plane to Orlando to deliver a keynote speech to 600 people at the Naval Air Warfare Center Trainings Systems Division (NAWCTSD). Learning TRENDS readers often ask about the process I use in planning, developing and delivering a major address, so let’s take a closer look at the prep for tomorrow’s speech.

* Learning Targeting & Needs Assessment: Just like developing a class or online module, it all starts with a Needs Assessment and Targeting process. When someone books me to give a keynote, a member of The MASIE Center does a first level assessment focused on the Who, What, When, Where and How questions. In fact, in about 25% of the cases, this first level sort results in a decision to not take the assignment. We are looking to get a clear view of what the group really wants to accomplish and how my content, context and stories would fit into the mix.
* NAWCTSD: In the case of the Navy group that I will be working with tomorrow, it was clear that there is a great fit. They are in the midst of a major change to Learning Organizations and wanted me to address the ways in which changed work processes, learning approaches and culture - along with the right uses of technology - can make a difference.  And, since they are basing some of their process on work that I have done with other organizations (including the VA Administration), I feel like I can help achieve the goals.
* Goals: Talking of goals, many keynotes do not have outcome goals, other than supplying motivation and context. When I design an address, I look for more specific goals, which in this case are linking the “theory” of Learning Organizations with current and emerging practices in both corporate and military settings. They also want me to align the address with key stories and utilize the language of Peter Senge’s models. No problem.
* Logistics: There are many very detailed logistics, including my travel from Albany, when I will be in the program (I usually avoid the tired end and prefer to kick off), and the setting. Once they announced the speech, the attendance grew. The event will take place at a movie location’s IMAX Theater with an overflow crowd in the next room and a feed to distributed sites by Video Conferencing.  Hmmmm.  Design challenges and opportunities. And, the time is 45 minutes.
* Diving Deep: Many speakers take the assignment and run with their outline. But, after 40 years in the field, that would be boring to me. Instead, I love to have a deep dive conversation with the senior leaders. In this case, we scheduled an hour long high quality video conference with their leaders, including their leader Capt. Steve “Snak” Nakagawa! During that video call, we dove deeper on content, looking at current operational changes they are making, listening for their language and actually “negotiating” the themes of my presentation. This conversation yielded about 4 pages of notes and I am delivering a 130 degree different address based on our dialogues. Plus, it builds a shared trust in how the session will go and what their needs are (and the needs of the audience).
* Design and Presentation: I am not going to be using a PowerPoint slide stack in this IMAX Theater. Instead, I put together a one-slide graphic with an infographic, key picture and some note taking space for the participants. This slide will be on throughout the 45 minutes and each person will have the one pager for notes and a short interaction with seat-mates. During the design process, “Less is More” governs my choice of content and stories. I figure I can present about 8 elements - each about 5 minutes long - in a storytelling and dialogue process. And, as I made up my infographic, I dropped one of the items. Less is more.
* Storytelling as the Arc: The core of my design process leads to a story - content, context and field experience-rich, but a story that is made to provoke and extend their learning goals. It needs Beginnings, Middles and Ends.  And, I actually build the story “arc” in my brain and on a small index card.
* Gestation: I use a gestation period - between my design and delivery - and that results in another 10 to 30 percent change.
* On-Site Reality Check: I have a pretty good sense of who the audience is and their levels, but it is key for me, once I get to the theater tomorrow morning at 8:30, to do my own validation.  I’ll have coffee beforehand and make sure that I have an accurate “read” on the audience.
* Last Minute Logistics: Yes, things do change with logistics. I was planning on bringing my USB stick with my one slide, but due to security requirements, their laptops do not allow for USB access. Instead, I am sending a version by email and bringing an extra CD to use if I have to cut an updated version in the next few hours.
* Nervous? Not at all. In fact, designing and delivering a keynote speech is really exciting. It makes me a learner and I always come away with new context, stories and people to get to know. The only time I get nervous is when the group that has hired me for a keynote says, “Don’t worry. Just give one of your great speeches. We don’t care a lot about the content. Just make them laugh and be motivated.” That gets me nervous and, to be honest, annoyed.
* Excitement? Yes! I am honored to be working with this important group. We have both put in the time to make it an effective design and therefore more likely to be an effective learning experience.

Learning DESIGN is everything - from classes to social/collaborative connection and yes, also keynote speeches.
I will write part two of this tomorrow afternoon, after the speech, to share the second half of the process and delivery impressions.

Yours in learning,

Elliott Masie

MASIE Center Seminars, Events and Services:
* Learning 2012 - Oct 21 - 24, 2012 - Orlando, Florida.
* Membership in The Learning CONSORTIUM
Info and Registration: - twitter: emasie