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Wednesday Snapshot: Highlights of Virtual Conference Sessions

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Association for Talent Development’s Virtual Conference offers 100 hours of on-demand content, and many of these sessions are eligible for certification and recertification points. Here are highlights of some of the sessions. To explore all on-demand content, visit

Don’t Let the Chaos Close Down Your Career
Track: Career Development

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” That is the question Elaine Biech, president of ebb associates, poses to attendees during her session, “Your 20/20 Vision: Reimagine Your Future This Year.” Yes, she wants participants to think about their future this year, despite the disruption from the pandemic, working from home, and economic challenges. It’s a good time because the question around what skills are and will be required is wide open. It’s important to answer despite the uncertain circumstances, because answering the question enables you the opportunity to help define the future.

It’s always important to focus on your career so that you can be prepared, do what you love, and invest in yourself, Biech continues. It’s also important because no one cares more about your career than you do and because you’ll spend some 80,000 hours working during your lifetime.

With that insight, Biech asks, “What gives your life meaning?” Don’t answer that question with only your career in mind, she advises. Rather, consider your entire life and all of its many facets: family, financial, health, social, and creative aspects.

Biech outlines an “act now” strategy: assess where you are, choose your goals, and take action. To get started, Biech advises that you need to establish a foundation and value lifelong learning, master your mindset, and align your values.

She also suggests participants consider a virtual job, and she provides tips to conducting a virtual interview.

Join Biech on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. ET for a live session, where she will answer questions and share thoughts about reimagining your future this year.

Podcasting Provides Learning on the Go

Many talent development professionals think it would be cool to have a podcast, but why? In her session, Best Practices for Your Employee Development Podcast, Shannon Martin, director of communications at PodBean, provides an overview of how podcasting can add value to your existing learning strategy.


Retention of information delivered via podcasts may be higher than you think. With accessibility being a key feature of podcasts, learners are not tied to a screen like other forms of instructional delivery, which makes this a great option for remote workers. It is ideal for a workforce constantly on the move.

Podcasts as part of the learning function can have myriad uses. Martin explains how you can use podcasts to keep a disbursed workforce updated on company policies, for example, and how you can build connectedness and strengthen company culture. Moreover, podcasting can be instrumental in reinforcing learning previously delivered in other formats.

In providing a blueprint for how to establish a successful podcast, Martin takes participants from the beginning steps of evaluation and who needs to be involved to ways to measure ROI. She also shares how various industries—from healthcare to delivery services—effectively use podcasting to communicate with their workforce.

As a bonus, she points attendees to where they can get further information. According to Martin, when coupled with great storytelling skills, podcasting can help you deliver your message in a powerful, meaningful way.

Demonstrating Value of Your Development Initiative
Track: Evaluating Impact

There are three main factors to evaluating any type of training, states Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick during “The Secret to Evaluating Nearly Any Type of Training,” which she leads with Jim Kirkpatrick. That point is true whether you’re creating or buying training sessions, whether your training courses are online or in person, or whether it’s synchronous or asynchronous.

The framework begins with planning, in which you lay the foundation and define the program’s goals. You also either select or choose the content and tool, and then design the evaluation plan or tools. Next is execution, during which you conduct the training and implement support and reinforcement.


The third step is demonstrating value, which includes compiling data and issuing a report on the training and development progress and results. You can use the same approach—planning, execution, and demonstrating value—whether you’re an internal training practitioner or a consultant or vendor.

Wendy and Jim conduct a role-play exercise in which Wendy serves as a vice president of sales and Jim acts as the training manager. In response to Wendy’s request for some leadership training during the scenario, Jim—rather than taking the request and running with it—probes deeper and asks several questions, including about desired outcomes and key metrics. One key question he asks is what overall problem the training is supposed to solve.

During the session, Jim reminds attendees of the four levels of the Kirkpatrick Model, beginning with Level 4 (results). This may surprise some listeners, but it is important to start with considering the degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training, support, and accountability package. From there, you can consider Level 3 (behavior), which—as Jim states—is the pathway that will get you to Level 4.

Skilling Employees for the Future, Today
Track: Managing the Learning Function

A lot is changing in the world of work, and the reskilling and upskilling of our workforce is mission critical if we are to move from old models of working to new. That’s why Kelly Palmer, chief learning officer at Degreed, believes that right now is one of the most exciting times to be in the L&D industry.

At the top of the “The Skills Quotient: An Easy Formula for Closing the Skill Gaps From Inside Your Organization” session, Palmer says that CEOs are nervous. More than 90 percent of CEOs are worried that their employees don’t have the skills they need. This sets the stage for Palmer’s talk on the skills needed for the future of work and a discussion on why it is important to develop teams and what areas we should target for growth. Palmer also looks at how traditional roles in the L&D function may morph over time.

Citing research from Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, Palmer says work is being redefined. In the Fourth Industrial revolution, we’ll rely on automation and technology to handle the routine tasks and allow employees to focus more on innovation and problem solving. To do that, Palmer posits, will require an important skill: learning agility, the ability and the motivation to learn and keep learning new skills all the time.

In this session, Palmer also brings to light those bottom-line benefits of investing in employees’ growth and development, such as increased retention. This is a session for those who dare to imagine the future of work and want to know what skills will be needed to get there and the role talent development professionals will play.

Share your ATD Virtual Conference experience on social media. #ATDVirtualConference

About the Author

Connection Point is the daily news source written by ATD staff for the ATD Virtual Conference, relaying news, session coverage, and other updates.

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