12 Free and Easy Ways to Learn from L&D Masters

As the holidays are rapidly approaching many folks will get some well-deserved time out of the office to celebrate with friends and recharge for a new year. One good idea for filling the down time between family visits, gift-giving and holiday meals is to spend some time learning something new.

One of my favorite things about being in the Learning & Development world is how freely so many people share their knowledge. Here are a dozen great places to find super smart people sharing uber helpful information that will make you smarter than ever before.


The TV channel for all learning and performance professionals. Over 200 items available to watch for FREE on any device. New programmes and podcasts released every month



Elearning Guild

The Elearning Guild has sots of great resources including webinar and recorded video sessions which are available with a free account. Be sure to check out the DemoFest recordings.



TrainingMag Recordings

You’ll find loads of good topics from popular speakers in Training Magazine’s collection of recorded webinars.



Training Journal Webinars



InSync Recordings

A nice collection of relevant topics from pros like Jane Bozarth, Karl Kapp and others.



Principles for multimedia learning with Richard E. Mayer




Free access to materials including interviews on cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.



ATD Webinars*

*Requires paid ATD national membership




Lynda has something for everyone. Check out great courses by Karl Kapp on learning and John McWade on design.


PRO TIP: Check with your library. You may be eligible to acces Lynda.com via your library.


Talks at Google

It’s no surprise that Google attracts some amazing speakers. Check out their list which includes people like Daniel Kahneman Thinking Fast & Slow, Nancy Duarte “Illuminate” and John O’Keefe GPS of the Brain,



Stanford Graduate School of Business

The Stanford Business School has a host of great talks including great topics like Design Thinking and Three Secrets All Inspiring Messages Share.



LinkedIn Speaker Series

The LinkedIn Speaker series highlights prominent members and influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk and many more.


LinkedIn Speaker Series

This is the 11th post in a 12 part series. 

12 Little-Known Things You Should Know About

Here are 12 things many people have probably not heard of that I use all the time to help me get things done better and faster.

Everything Search Engine

Most of us have about a gazillion documents we regularly have to navigate to find exactly what we need. Instead of wasting time on fruitless quests, this little app will zoom you right to the file you need in the blink of an eye. This is a huge time saver if you are searching shared Dropbox folders where your colleagues don’t share your organizational logic. (Can anyone tell me the difference between the Development and Production folders?)

The Everything filename search engine is lightweight, super fast and allows you to use wildcards when you don’t know all the exact details of what you’re looking for.



PathCopy Copy

Amazingly, Microsoft has never given us a good way to get the full UNC path information we need. Enter PathCopyCopy – an add-on for Windows Explorer that will. With PathCopyCopy, right-clicking will give you a number of new choices including two that are relevant for us here today.




Trello is one of my favorite ways to keep track of all the things flying around in my world. Using Trello to manage projects and other tasks is a great thing by itself. But did you know you can also leverage Trello boards for a lot of great things beyond project management?

Check out some of these  other creative ways to use your Trello boards:

You can find even more from Trello’s inspiration page.


As much as many of us would like to stay away from email, it is often inescapable. For times like those, you can make things better and keep track of things with an app like SortD. Sortd is a Gmail add-in that transforms your email into organized lists.

I’ve got a few invites left, so let you know if you’d like one so you can try it out for yourself.


Speaking of email, MailChimp is a must have for anyone who manages any kind of email lists for newsletters, marketing, etc. You can even use Mail Chimp for crazy cool email-based courses. Mailchimp is one of the tools you should be stealing from the marketing department.



SMS/MMS Texting

Recently, I’ve started seeing more and more SMS/MMS texting uses in a training context. Like MailChimp and other marketing tools, you should at least be looking into some of the ways marketers are using text messaging platforms to see how it can benefit your training programs.

Like email platforms, text campaigns can reach people and places your LMS or content management system can’t as well as giving you some insightful analytics.

Curious to see how it works? Grab your phone and text “MINDSET” to 555888

Online Forms

I’m a big proponent of the idea that if you’re putting things out,  you should put your name on it and provide some way for your audience to communicate with you. One easy way to do that is by using online forms. For example, I always like to include a link to a feedback form in all the courses I build.

I like Survey Gizmo because it lets me collect feedback from multiple courses and identify which course the feedback comes from with a single form.  If you’re curious, this is what it looks like.


Animated GIFS

giphyWhen most people hear ‘animated GIF’ they probably think of something like this:

Sometimes a good animated GIF can be fun, but I’m talking about how you can use them as a video option that plays on virtually any device with no plugins of any kind required and even plays automatically INSIDE emails and Microsoft Office documents?

For example, take a look at this animated gif that was part of my weekly tech tip series email newsletter. Yes, I run it with MailChimp! 😎


There are a lot of ways to make animated gifs. My favorite is TechSmith’s Camtasia. What is yours?


I know, EVERYONE has heard of PowerPoint. But most people don’t use it the way I use it. Beyond just creating slides I use PowerPoint for creating:

Think Headlines

Marketers know this and L&D pros should too. HThe titles and headlines you choose change the way people think! Today, it is harder than ever to get people’s attention. Without a good headline or title, you may never get most people to even read or see your stuff.

Want to learn more? Check out Copybloggers free “How to Write Magnetic Headlines” ebook.

Try out this online tool to help you generate loads of title/headline ideas. 

Google Music

At this very moment, I’m listening to Google Music. Similar to Pandora or Spotify, Google Music lets you search for an artist and get a station of similar music. The thing I like best is the option to choose music by your mood ( Calm, Angry, Mellow, Happy, etc  ) or the activity you’re doing (Barbequeing, Cleaning House, Family Time, Getting Pumped Up, etc.)

In a previous post, I mentioned how I like to play music before and during workshops and presentations. Google Music is what I use for that.


Social Media

You are using social media professionally, aren’t you?  There are a lot of great reasons and lots of great people to learn with but I’m continually surprised at how many people aren’t tapping into social media.

What do you say to people who tell you things like “I don’t have time for that stuff!”

This is the 10th post in a 12 part series.


12 Super Useful Cheatsheets & Job Aids

Learning & Instructional Design

Multimedia Learning Design Principles

Based on Richard Mayer’s

Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction

Anyone who designs any kind of learning materials should bookmark this interactive guide to Robert Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction created by Montse Anderson (@mlearning)


Multimedia Learning Design Resources

This collection of resources will give you a nice headstart on finding the things you need when you’re ready to start building.

Articulate Storyline Shortcuts

Give your work in Articulate Storyline a boost of speed with these handy keyboard shortcuts.



Presentations & Design

Here are some useful presentation & design-related guides. For even more, check out this big collection of curated resources for PowerPoint and multimedia design.

10 PowerPoint Shortcuts You Should Know


Character Map for Wingding Icon Fonts

If you ever use any of the winding fonts in your designs, you’ll love having a copy of this complete map created by Bruce Gabrielle. This has been on my office wall for years!



Canva Shortcuts

I’ve mentioned Canva as a great tool for designing just about any type of graphics you need and you’ll have them done in no time with these useful shortcuts.



General Office & Others

Top 10 Document Time-Saving Tips

No matter what job you’re in, you probably deal with documents. These time-saving tips will help you polish them off in record time.



Google Docs Cheatsheet



Google Sheets



Google Drive




Loads of folks regularly share files with Dropbox. This is a useful guide for those who are new to Dropbox of others you’re sharing Dropbox files with who aren’t regular users.



Thanks for stopping by. Do you have any cheatsheets posted on your wall? What are they? I’d love to know!

This is the 9th post of a 12 part series.

Top 12 Things in My Presenter’s Toolkit

Many trainers and presenters, especially when they’re just getting started, underestimate the probability of something going wrong with the technical set up at their event. And trying to troubleshoot with a room full of anxious people watching your every move is nobody’s idea of fun.

Anyone who does any type of speaking or presenting should have a good toolkit to handle the inevitable challenges you’ll run into along the way. Here are the top 12 things I always have with me for every workshop, conference session, or any other type of presentation I deliver.

Before you begin, you should know the science behind giving a powerful and persuasive presentation. And one of the best places to start is Susan Weinschenk’s “100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People

100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk

513m7bmk04l-_sx387_bo1204203200_ “100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People” is a great book that will teach you things like how people process information, the best ways to grab and hold people’s attention, how to move people to action and more.

In this book, Susan shares how to use psychology to be a better presenter. A lot of presenters craft talks based on their personal intuition of what is best. And that is fine, as long as your intuition aligns with the science. There is something for everyone to learn from this book and as usual, you can learn even more by plugging into Susan’s blog and following her on Twitter ( @thebrainlady ).


30003aVGA, DVI, HDMI, etc. You never know what combination of alphabet soup you’re going to need to connect your laptop or iPad to a projector, TV, or who knows what type of projection system.

Most projectors support VGA and more modern ones also support DVI and/or HDMI inputs, Murphy’s Law means that whatever one you plan for will not be what is actually available when you show up.  Don’t forget the audio connections if you’re using any multimedia.

While many conferences can help you out, the stakes are way too high to leave this to chance.

Presentation Remote aka Clicker

61kv3zrvp8l-_sl1300_This is another thing that event organizers will often provide and another thing I wouldn’t leave to chance, especially at smaller events. Logitech has several good ones including my favorite the R800. I like that it has a 100ft range and a timer you can set to buzz to keep you on schedule. For a little less money, the R400 is also a good one.   There are a lot of options to suit your needs. Just don’t forget the extra batteries.

If you co-present you can plug two clickers into the same computer so both speakers can advance their own slides without having to pass the remote back and forth.

Backup plans

Not only should you have a backup plan, but you should also have a backup to the backup and maybe even several more to back those plans up. Even if your host promises you everything will be taken care of, don’t ever assume that is actually the case. There are far too many details that can fall through the cracks, and right or wrong, all of them will reflect directly on you.

At a minimum, you’ll want to have backup copies of your slides. If you’re presenting on your own computer, be prepared for it not to work. Save a copy of your slides on a thumb drive, online someplace like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. I always try to also save a PDF version of my slides, which can be displayed on any computer even one that doesn’t have PowerPoint installed.

Depending on the situation I’ve even traveled with my own entire set up including computer, iPad, projector and speakers. As they say, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

It matters if you built your deck on Windoes but are presenting on a Mac and vice versa. Here are a few things to consider when navigating between a PC and a Mac.

Internet Access

skyroam_device_global_no_shadow_no_canvas_smallIf you’re doing live demos or anything else that requires an internet connection, you’ll definitely want a back up plan for that.  I love including live polls in many of my talks which require an internet connection. I always have a fallback plan for internet that doesn’t work. (It happens way more often than you think!)

If you are totally dependent on having internet in your session, be sure to get to the venue you are presenting in early enough troubleshoot your connection and consider bringing your own connection along via a mobile hotspot. I’m fortunate to have the best library in the world where I can check out a mobile hotspot for free.

If you’re library isn’t as awesome as mine and you don’t want to buy one yourself, you can  try something like Sky Roam and rent one. Their service even works internationally.


Speaking of live polls, I’m a big fan of @polleverywhere.  I’ve talked about Poll Everywhere before and their free PowerPoint add-in makes adding interactive, real-time polls to your presentations a snap. And the best part is that your audience will love participating and being a part of your talk!


Slide Hosting

If you want to make your slides available, you’ll want a good place to post them. Slideshare is where I share mine. With Slideshare, you’ll be able to embed your slides in your own website or other places online. You’ll also get some nice analytics so you can see what is happening with your slides. It is nice to see how many views and where people are who are checking them out.


I’m a big believer in creating separate handouts for the sessions I deliver. Without me there to explain, my slides are not nearly as valuable. The nitty gritty details that stand alone without me there are in my handouts.

There are a number of benefits both for and the audience. For me, I don’t have to worry about diluting my presentation message with all the “nice to have” content. And for my audience, handouts let them relax and pay attention without trying to take notes. The handout also directs them where to find more details and how to easily contact me with any questions.


Speaking of handouts, I  recently discovered TalkBook and I’m super excited about it. If you’re providing handouts, contact information and other supporting details to your audience, you’ll like this too. TalkBook lets you set up everything in advance then, when you’re ready, you can share a simple link that collects email addresses and automatically sends your handouts and other information.  It even lets them rate you and ask follow-up questions. This is a  huge upgrade to the old way of handling this.

Try it for yourself and see what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts?


If you’re not leveraging the power of social media for your engagements you’re really missing an opportunity. From building interest in advance to sharing tweetable messages and follow-up resources afterward social media can give you a big boost. Buffer is one of my favorite social media tools and lets you schedule posts to Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms. You’ll also get insightful analytics to see how people are interacting with your posts.




Social Share is a PowerPoint add-in that makes it easy to share your slides directly to Facebook and Twitter without needing to leave PowerPoint.

Portable Bluetooth speaker

81jla8ypbcl-_sl1500_I’ve come to appreciate how music can improve an experience. I like to have some subtle music playing as people filter into a session and if it is a workshop during breaks, lumch, working sessions, etc. There are some really great stations on Pandora and Google Music that work great for this. I have this Bose speaker and it is fantastic, but there are tons of great options for any budget.

I know there are lots of other things that lots of other speakers and trainers will never leave home without. What is on your ‘must have’ list? Duct tape, extension cords, power strips, flip charts, dry erase markers? Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about it.

This is the 8th post in a 12 post series. 

Top Presentation Slide Decks

Like it or not, the ability to create effective slide designs is a skill that will benefit you and any audience you are trying to reach. This collection is of slide decks will help anyone improve their presentation and slide making skills.

If you want to dive even deeper, you might be interested in this big curated collection of PowerPoint and presentation-related resources that I maintain over on Zeef.

The Science of Memorable Presentations | Ethos 3

Many people who build presentations and other slide-based content like e-learningg can benefit from learning the science behind what works best and what doesn’t. This deck from Ethos 3 is a great start. While you’re at it, check out this must read post on “The Scientific Reason Why Bullets Are Bad for Presentations”

Why Presentations Matter |
The Presentation Designer

In this SlideShare presentation, you’ll see some helpful tips to improve your presentation designs and how to make your presentations more engaging.

Slides that Rock

Five design principles for creating slides that rock!

8 Tips for an Awesome PowerPoint Presentation | Damon Nofar

Try out these eight tips on how to make your PowerPoint slides more visually engaging, creative and fun.

74 Safe Font Combos for PowerPoint |  Johanna Rehnvall

This interactive guide is divided into four groups:  sans serif+sans serifs, sans serifs + serifs, serifs + serifs, serifs + sans serifs. It also has a super helpful matrix view.

23 Quick Color Schemes for Your Presentation | Johanna Rehnvall

This is a quick guideto the built-in PowerPoint color themes which can be easily applied to your presentation and graphics, regardless of what presentation template you are using.

5 Ways to Surprise Your Audience and Catch Their Attention | Damon Nofar

Gaining and keeping the attention of your audience is critical. Check out these five ways of using the element of surprise in your presentations.

One Point Per Slide | Stinson Design

This deck will show you why having only one point per slide is important!

How to be a PowerPoint Animation Ninja | Bright Carbon

BrightCarbon’s presentation experts guide you from animation novice to ninja in 7 easy steps! If you like this one, be sure the check out  How To Be A PowerPoint Animation Ninja (Level 2)!

You Suck at PowerPoint | Jesse Dejardins

Learn about the 5 design mistakes you need to avoid.

Slide Docs | Nancy Duarte

Slidedocs are visual documents developed in presentation software intended to be read and referenced instead of projected. Take a spin through this deck and start reimagining your documents. Visit Nancy Duarte’s slidedocs.com to learn more and download templates that will get you started.

You Already Know How to Build mLearning (You Just Don’t Know It) | Mike Taylor

Mobile content is rapidly becoming a must-have for organizations big and small. This deck will show you how quick and easy it can be to build mobile-friendly content with PowerPoint (yes, PowerPoint) that is visually appealing, interactive, and dynamic.

I’d love to hear if you like any of these or what others are on your list of favorites!

This is post #7 in a series of 12. See them all here. 

12 Incredibly Useful Blogs for Learning Cool Stuff


It is no secret that I’m a huge proponent of learning. I make time every day to learn something new and am always on the lookout for useful takeaways from my experiences. One of the coolest things about learning is when you find something super useful and learn something you didn’t even know you needed to learn. These are some of my favorite sites that have given me those types of “Aha! Learning Moments”

Plug these into your favorite RSS/Feed reader and never miss a trick!

If you don’t have one or even know what the heck that means, jump over here to learn more and try Feedly. You’ll be glad you did!

PowerPoint, Slide Design & Elearning

Bright Carbon



Nuts & Bolts – Taylor Croonquist



Articulate E-Learning Heroes



Canva Design School



Save time and subscribe to all of these* by plugging this into your favorite feed reader:

* Articulate doesn’t have any feeds available, which is a bummer. 8-(


Chandoo – Purna Duggirala



General Awesomeness

Digital Inspiration – Amit Agarwal



Steve Dotto



Better Cloud




Check with your library for FREE access to Lynda.com courses.






Microsoft’s Office Blogs



Mike Tips

Yes, these are mine. 😎



This is post #6 in a series of 12. See them all here. 


L&D People You Should Be Following on Twitter

Is it safe to assume that if you’re reading this post you are also on Twitter? If not, you are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with and learn from a lot of super smart people. Take a quick hop on over to learn a bit about tweeting professionally. Really, go ahead. We’ll wait right here until you get back.

I admit that when I first signed up for Twitter, I didn’t really know what to do with it. The light bulb finally went off after I discovered #lrnchat and the amazing conversations happening there among that wonderful group of people.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot from the connections I’ve made via Twitter. Here are some of the people I consistently learn the most from. If you like, you can follow them all in a single click via this Twitter list.


If you’re looking for even more, here are a couple of other lists for you to check out:

Ajay Pangarkar’s (@BizLearningDudeTop 20 Learning And Development Value Tweeters

Jane Hart’s (@c4lpt) – 100 people who tweet about L&D
Follow them all with a single click via her Twitter list  Workplace Learning Twitter list

This list is over 5 years old now, but still has lots of good people on it – The first 99 people you should follow on Twitter.

Thanks for reading! Who is your favorite person to learn from on Twitter? If we’re not connected there yet I’m @tmiket.

This is the fifth post of a 12 part series. 

Where to Find the Best Presentation Templates & Design Inspiration

At some point, nearly everyone needs to design slides. Whether for an online elearning course, a training workshop, a conference presentation, a sales pitch or a whole host of other reasons you always want to look your best. Instead of staring at a blank screen trying to come up with ideas, why not tap into some of the great templates and resources that are available to you.


Here is a collection of my favorite sites for presentation templates and slide design inspiration.

  1. Slide Model
  2. Slide Shop

    Don’t miss out on the free slides available from Slide Model and Slideshop. Subscribe to their email list and you’ll get free slides in your inbox every week!

  3. Slides Carnival
  4. Elearning Heroes
  5. Site2Max
  6. Canva
  7. SlideGeeks
  8. Graphic River
  9. Envato
  10. Creative Market
  11. Duarte Diagrammer
  12. Duarte SlideDocs

Want even more? You can find some templates and tons of inspiration on design sites like Dribbble and Behance. I’ve even got a few of my own to offer here.


Thanks for reading! Do you use any of these or maybe there are some others that I missed?  Let me know with a comment below or via social media using the hashtag #12×12

Day 4 of 12 | Check out the entire series here

#12×12 Day 3 Books

I’m a big fan of books and today I’d like to share 12 of my favorite professional books. These are the books I’d recommend to anyone who does anything related to learning , training delivery, instructional design, etc.

If you’d like to connect with me on Good Reads, you can see other books that I’ve read or want to read as well as find out what others are saying about the books you’re interested in. You can find this list over on Good Reads too.


  1. Visual Design by Connie Malamed
  2. Elearning Science of Instruction by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer
  3. Design for how People Learn by Julie Dirksen
  4. Work Out Loud by John Stepper
  5. slideology by Nancy Duarte
  6. Performance Consulting by James and Dana Robinson
    (Check out the third edition with new contributions from Dick Handshaw & others.)
  7. Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson
    (Check the website for some useful templatesto help you organize your presentations.)
  8. Made to Stick by Dan & Chip Heath
  9. Make it Stick by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel
  10. Analyzing Performance Problems
  11. 100 Things Every Designer Should Know About People
  12. Nobody Wants to Read Your SH*T! by Ste

Thanks for reading! What books have you found the most helpful? Reply with a comment below or via social media using the hashtag #12×12

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